View Full Version : Evel Knievel Dead

Dom Heffner
11-30-2007, 05:18 PM
RIP. Lots of childhood memories with this guy.


11-30-2007, 05:23 PM
One last jump- RIP Evel.

11-30-2007, 05:25 PM

11-30-2007, 05:39 PM
I had one of these.


11-30-2007, 05:40 PM
One of my favorite toys as a boy...I had the van too.

RIP Evel. :(

11-30-2007, 05:44 PM
I had one of these.


I had that too. Also had the lunchbox - the same one featured on that ebay commercial.

11-30-2007, 06:02 PM
Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69

By MITCH STACY, Associated Press Writer
November 30, 2007

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Evel Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho's Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

Knievel's death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel. He had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs.

Knievel had undergone a liver transplant in 1999 after nearly dying of hepatitis C, likely contracted through a blood transfusion after one of his bone-shattering spills.

Immortalized in the Washington's Smithsonian Institution as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones before he retired in 1980.

Though Knievel dropped off the pop culture radar in the '80s, the image of the high-flying motorcyclist clad in patriotic, star-studded colors was never erased from public consciousness. He always had fans and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

His death came just two days after it was announced that he and rapper Kanye West had settled a federal lawsuit over the use of Knievel's trademarked image in a popular West music video.

Knievel made a good living selling his autographs and endorsing products. Thousands came to Butte, Mont., every year as his legend was celebrated during the "Evel Knievel Days" festival.

"They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives," Knievel said. "People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner."

For the tall, thin daredevil, the limelight was always comfortable, the gab glib. To Knievel, there always were mountains to climb, feats to conquer.

"No king or prince has lived a better life," he said in a May 2006 interview with The Associated Press. "You're looking at a guy who's really done it all. And there are things I wish I had done better, not only for me but for the ones I loved."

He had a knack for outrageous yarns: "Made $60 million, spent 61. ...Lost $250,000 at blackjack once. ... Had $3 million in the bank, though."

He began his daredevil career in 1965 when he formed a troupe called Evel Knievel's Motorcycle Daredevils, a touring show in which he performed stunts such as riding through fire walls, jumping over live rattlesnakes and mountain lions and being towed at 200 mph behind dragster race cars.

In 1966 he began touring alone, barnstorming the West and doing everything from driving the trucks, erecting the ramps and promoting the shows. In the beginning he charged $500 for a jump over two cars parked between ramps.

He steadily increased the length of the jumps until, on New Year's Day 1968, he was nearly killed when he jumped 151 feet across the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace. He cleared the fountains but the crash landing put him in the hospital in a coma for a month.

His son, Robbie, successfully completed the same jump in April 1989.

In the years after the Caesar's crash, the fee for Evel's performances increased to $1 million for his jump over 13 buses at Wembley Stadium in London -- the crash landing broke his pelvis -- to more than $6 million for the Sept. 8, 1974, attempt to clear the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a rocket-powered "Skycycle." The money came from ticket sales, paid sponsors and ABC's "Wide World of Sports."

The parachute malfunctioned and deployed after takeoff. Strong winds blew the cycle into the canyon, landing him close to the swirling river below.

On Oct. 25, 1975, he jumped 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island in Ohio.

Knievel decided to retire after a jump in the winter of 1976 in which he was again seriously injured. He suffered a concussion and broke both arms in an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in the Chicago Amphitheater. He continued to do smaller exhibitions around the country with his son, Robbie.

Many of his records have been broken by daredevil motorcyclist Bubba Blackwell.

Knievel also dabbled in movies and TV, starring as himself in "Viva Knievel" and with Lindsay Wagner in an episode of the 1980s TV series "Bionic Woman." George Hamilton and Sam Elliott each played Knievel in movies about his life.

Evel Knievel toys accounted for more than $300 million in sales for Ideal and other companies in the 1970s and '80s.

Born Robert Craig Knievel in the copper mining town of Butte on Oct. 17, 1938, Knievel was raised by his grandparents. He traced his career choice back to the time he saw Joey Chitwood's Auto Daredevil Show at age 8.

Outstanding in track and field, ski jumping and ice hockey at Butte High School, he went on to win the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men's ski jumping championship in 1957 and played with the Charlotte Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League in 1959.

He also formed the Butte Bombers semiprofessional hockey team, acting as owner, manager, coach and player.

Knievel also worked in the Montana copper mines, served in the Army, ran his own hunting guide service, sold insurance and ran Honda motorcycle dealerships. As a motorcycle dealer, he drummed up business by offering $100 off the price of a motorcycle to customers who could beat him at arm wrestling.

At various times and in different interviews, Knievel claimed to have been a swindler, a card thief, a safe cracker, a holdup man.

Evel Knievel married hometown girlfriend, Linda Joan Bork, in 1959. They separated in the early 1990s. They had four children, Kelly, Robbie, Tracey and Alicia.

Robbie Knievel followed in his father's footsteps as a daredevil, jumping a moving locomotive in a 200-foot, ramp-to-ramp motorcycle stunt on live television in 2000. He also jumped a 200-foot-wide chasm of the Grand Canyon.

Knievel lived with his longtime partner, Krystal Kennedy-Knievel, splitting his time between their Clearwater condo and Butte. They married in 1999 and divorced a few years later but remained together. Knievel had 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

11-30-2007, 07:00 PM
I had an actual Evel Knieval bicycle. Complete with plastic body/simulated gas tank. I used to take it off some awesome jumps. He was a half-crazy S.O.B. Those televised jumps were awesome to watch as a kid.

11-30-2007, 07:41 PM
I had one of these.
My next door neighbor did, too. My neighbor and I never missed an episode of this Knievel ripoff, either.



11-30-2007, 09:55 PM
The Evel Knievel stunt cycle was freakin awesome....i smashed that thing all around my back yard as a kid....Evel had done a great interview with Jim Rome recently...

11-30-2007, 10:00 PM
As sad as it might sound, this cat was an absolute hero to me when I was a kid...It all started one night when my folks took we kids to the drive-in theater to see the Evel Knievel movie. I was hooked from the first moment I saw him.

I can remember being absolutely paralyzed with anticipation in front of the family's Sylvania while wating for him to jump the Snake River Canyon in his "rocket bike" (didn't work out so well for EC). I also vividly remember watching him do the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace and the Double-Decker Buses in England.

The reason I quit watching Happy Days was because it was just too maddening to watch Fonzie pretending to jump things in Arnold's parking lot (or the famous tank of sharks in a later episode) when I knew that the master of all motorcycle stunts was relegated to ABC's Wide World of Sports maybe once every 18 months or so.

It would be pointless to name the Evel toys and action figures that I owned because I literally had them all. Every year, when the new Sears Christmas Catalog would come out, I would spend hours and hours combing through it to see if any new Evel stuff was being featured.

11-30-2007, 10:05 PM
Blimpie--do not apologize....it is NOT sad that Evel was your hero...I wouldnt call him a hero for me--but I did watch all of his jumps and followed his career. He was one tough dude...a real man...he carried a cane full of whiskey in his later years.

11-30-2007, 10:15 PM
Blimpie--do not apologize....it is NOT sad that Evel was your hero...I wouldnt call him a hero for me--but I did watch all of his jumps and followed his career. He was one tough dude...a real man...he carried a cane full of whiskey in his later years.you wanna know the other wierd thing? I could not STAND watching Robbie Knievel gravy train off his old man all of those years.

I mean, I am sure that Evel was completely proud of his prodigy. On the other hand, I despised the fact that he tried to complete the stunts that his dad fell short of nailing.

Of course, if Robbie had to try the same stunts with a circa 1973 motorcycle, he would have ended up deader than a hammer. But, I digress.

11-30-2007, 11:08 PM
His jump of the Grand Canyon was his best. He will be sorely missed.

12-01-2007, 12:00 PM
Yeah, Robbie Knievel is pretty much a dou-he.

Falls City Beer
12-01-2007, 01:09 PM
I clearly remember kids wearing t-shirts commemorating his 1975 King's Island jump.

Well, that t-shirt, and KISS t-shirts, Sha-na-na t-shirts, Hee-Haw t-shirts....

12-01-2007, 02:29 PM
He was a bit before my time, but the footage I've seen is captivating.

I'm sure he was capitvating to those who got to enjoy his stunts as well....and to say he had a few screws loose would be an understatement.

RIP Evel.

12-01-2007, 02:51 PM
I clearly remember kids wearing t-shirts commemorating his 1975 King's Island jump.

Well, that t-shirt, and KISS t-shirts, Sha-na-na t-shirts, Hee-Haw t-shirts....

Velva Sheen Mesh Jerseys, Number 76

12-01-2007, 03:22 PM
I too was a huge fan in my youth. Had a lot of the Evel toys (along w/ Big Jim, GI Joe, Action Jackson, etc.). Most young boys in the early-to-md 1970's loved the guy. I was saddened to hear the news. RIP Evel.

12-01-2007, 05:43 PM
At 5p on History Channel they are showing "Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story"

12-01-2007, 06:35 PM
King's Island jump:


12-01-2007, 06:54 PM
Ceasar's jump:


12-07-2007, 11:16 AM

A Touch of Evel
December 5th, 2007

All the heroes of my early childhood wore capes. Funny. There was Superman, of course, the cartoon, the comic books, mostly the George Reeves’* character on weekday afternoon television, a not-so-muscular Superman who would stand at full attention, hands on his hips, smug look on his face while the villain unloaded his revolver (and then, as the comedians have pointed out, duck when the villain threw the gun his way).

There was Batman and Robin, sliding down the poles, to the Batcave, into the Batmobile (always buckling their seat belts) and finally to the arch-villain’s lair where underpaid goons wore ill-conceived, skintight uniforms and took heavy punches that sounded like “Boof!” and “Kapow!”

There was Elvis, naturally, wearing capes and karate suits, or capes and tiger pajamas with belt buckles the size of pinball machines, always capes though; and in front of the capes the King sweated jelly doughnut filling under extreme lights while singing gospels like “How Great Thou Art” and other people’s songs like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” all with his eyes closed.

And finally there was my ultimate caped hero. When I was 7 years old, the world was divided among the Gods. Muhammad Ali was the greatest. Steve Austin (man barely alive) was the strongest. Fonzie was the coolest. The Harlem Globetrotters were the best. Richard Nixon was not a crook. And Evel Knievel was bigger than any of them.

When it comes to Evel, I don’t even try to separate fact from fiction. I don’t know if he really robbed banks. I don’t know if he really broke 40 bones and became a national sensation while he was in a coma. I don’t know if he cheated the 1960 Czechoslovakian hockey team out of their exhibition money. I don’t know if he really used to lead elk-hunting expeditions into Yellowstone Park. I don’t know if he got his Evel Knievel name in jail when he was in a cell next to the legendary Montana criminal Awful Knofel.

I don’t know if he really sold insurance to people in mental institutions. I don’t know if he really ran over a Hell’s Angel. I don’t know if he really offered to jump out of a an airplane without a parachute and land in a haystack. I don’t know if, on his first jump, he really almost landed in a pit with two mountain lions and 100 rattlesnakes. I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

The story goes that for his first TV jump — the one that made him famous — he walked into Caesar’s Palace, slammed a $100 chip on the blackjack table, busted, drained a shot of Jack Daniels (or, some say, Wild Turkey), grabbed two showgirls, and walked out into the sunlght. He then tied on his cape, got on his motorcycle, ran a couple of warm-up passes (I used to hate when he did that) and then headed for the ramp so he could jump the famous Caesar’s fountains. He promptly lost power in his motorcycle, landed on a van, flipped over the handlebars, skidded about a half mile, crushed his pelvis, femur, fractured his hip and went into a coma The whole thing was filmed by Linda Evans. That Linda Evans. It made him more famous than he ever could have imagined. What a man.

There was something different about 1974 in America, something that I find hard to explain. It wasn’t an innocence exactly. It was more like — well, I’ll try this way: I really believed the Harlem Globetrotters were the greatest basketball team in the world. All of us kids believed it. There was never a doubt in our minds that Meadowlark, Curly and Marques Haynes would not just beat the New York Knicks, but destroy them, mock them, roll basketballs under their legs. I remember one kid in our class, the smart kid, telling us all that no, the Globetrotters were an ACT, they could not really beat a professional team, and I remember that we shouted him down the way the mobs probably shouted down witch-defendants in Salem (“Oh yeah? if it’s just an act, how does Meadowlark make those halfcourt shots, huh? How could the Cleveland Cavaliers stop that? Answer that Mr. Basketball”).

Maybe we were more naive then, but no, I think there was something more involved. America WANTED to be more naive. It was like the whole country was in on it. The whole country acted like the Globetrotters were a real sports team. I mean they used to show the Globetrotters on Wide World of Sports, and the great Howard Cosell would tell us how the Washington Generals were a really good team, and he would tell us all about the Globetrotters astonishing athletic prowess, and the camera angles would make the Globetrotters look impossibly good (they only showed the halfcourt shots Meadowlark made). It all felt so real. It was like the Capricorn One of basketball. The whole country happily suspended belief. It was a great time to be 7.

(You know, this might make even less sense to you: But I remember once being very young and watching an old I Love Lucy repeat, one where the George Reeves’* Superman was on the show. I think he was supposed to come to Little Ricky’s birthday party or somthing. Only he was really Superman — he actually flew out the window. It seems odd now. I mean, I Love Lucy was a show somewhat based in reality, right? Nobody flew. And here in the middle of it was Superman, really flying, really coming into save the day. As a kid, this proved conclusive to me: There really is a Superman. Why else would he be on I Love Lucy? The logic was flawless).

In this environment, Evel Knievel was much larger than he ever could be today, or at least that how it seems to me (though the Hannah Montana ticket prices tell me kids might be somewhat easily taken these days too). See, Evel Knievel was not some lunatic daredevil who survived horrendous crashes and wore a cape and jumped busses on his motorcycle. No. There was no irony then. It wasn’t just that America wasn’t in on the Evel Knievel joke. With Evel, there WAS NO JOKE. He was, plainly, seriously, the most dangerous man in the world. He was what every 7 year old I knew wanted to be when he grew up.

For me: There was a hill on my street — I used to take my bike to the top of that hill, wrap a towel around my neck, look down over the tiny little green lawns and hear imaginary cheers. Funny thing, I don’t remember ever actually JUMPING anything, I just remember straddling my bike, looking out over the gray splendor of South Euclid and imagining my glorious cape-wearing future. I wasn’t the only one.

There was, I recall, a lot of confusion among us kids when Evel Knievel tried to jump Snake River Canyon. First, I’m pretty sure we all thought he was supposed to jump the GRAND Canyon. I have since heard that Knievel wanted to jump the Grand Canyon, but the U.S. Government, surprisingly, did not want some daredevil killing himself at one of America’s natural wonders.

So he arranged Snake River Canyon, which did have the cool name. Then, we all thought he was going to jump it on a motorcycle. This was a natural progression since Evel did all of his jumps on motorcycles. It was Zev, I believe, who had the full Evel Knievel toy set, though I supposed it could be Eric or Michael, and I remember spending hours having Toy Evel jump over impressive holes we had dug in the ground, holes that we assumed were roughly in proportion with the Grand Canyon. We had it all set in our minds.

So it was really quite a letdown when we saw that he was actually going to jump the Snake River Canyon in a rocket ship. Somehow, this did not seem quite as impressive. We had, by then, seen rocket ships do fairly impressive things, you know, like go to the moon. Seeing one go over a canyon did not seem especially daring. The announcer, I recall, spent quite a bit of time explaining that was not an ordinary rocket ship, something about propulsion, but I did not really understand the difference then and I still don’t now. I do remember that when the rocket ship crashed, and it looked like Evel Knievel might have died, I started crying. My father then told me that Evel would be all right. I guess the whole thing was on tape.

I may or may not have cared about Evel Knievel after that. I can’t really remember when I outgrew him. It’s troubling looking back now to see how astonishingly kitschy and uncool all the serious and cool things of that time were. It turns out Fonzie wasn’t tough at all.

Many years later, I had a chance to meet Evel Knievel. A promoter called me to set it up. It was at a car show, I believe (which, perhaps not coincidentally, was where I had a chance to meet Adam West, the TV Batman). By then, I had heard that Evel was an astonishingly bad guy, a self-promoting and prickly cuckoo bird who had in his later years failed to pay his taxes, got arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover cop, fought constantly with his daredevil son Robbie and believed his own hype like a perpetual 7-year-old, I guess at the end of his life he found religion.

Anyway, I did not go to meet him. Some things are better and larger in memory. Evel Knievel died on November 30. Earlier this year, Jon Saraceno at USA Today wrote a story about Evel. The old man came across as cantankerous as ever, but he offered this touching thought: “I think about God a lot more than ever. Though I used to ask him, “Help me make a good jump.’ I’m awfully tough to get along with. But I’ll tell you what: I’m a good person. I wish there was such a thing as reincarnation.”

I wonder if Evel really did wish for reincarnation. He was always saying stuff like that. I mean, what else could he have done? He was, for a time, the baddest man on earth and the greatest and most incredible man a 7-year-old could imagine being. I’ve got to believe that’s what it was all about.

12-07-2007, 12:15 PM
Didn't he beat some woman with a baseball bat?

I apologize in advance if I'm getting that story wrong, but I thought I heard something about it on a television show about his life.

12-07-2007, 12:24 PM
Didn't he beat some woman with a baseball bat?

I apologize in advance if I'm getting that story wrong, but I thought I heard something about it on a television show about his life.
It was a guy, who's still suing his estate.

12-07-2007, 12:26 PM
It was a guy, who's still suing his estate.

Ahhh K, thanks for the clarification.

Do you know what it was about?

12-07-2007, 12:48 PM
Ahhh K, thanks for the clarification.

Do you know what it was about?


12-07-2007, 12:50 PM
Wow, interesting link. Thanks, WOY.

12-07-2007, 02:11 PM
I think I had every toy out there from the cycle to the dragster. Good memories.

He lived fast and hard, but he finished well in 2007.