Stunts, Stars And Legends: Martin Grace
Artwork and articles by John Hagner (Artist of the Stars)
Stuntman, Martin Grace, doubled for Roger Moore in many of the star’s James Bond films died at age 67 in 2010. He was an accomplished stunt performer and coordinator. His doubling for Moore was in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) up until his departure from the series in “A View To A Kill (1985). Martin was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, on 12th of September, 1942. During his time at college at Kilkenny City, Grace first experienced action movies when a tented traveling film show arrived in town. Bitten by the bug, he moved to London in the early 1960s to attend Mountview Academy of Theater Arts. After he joined a stunt agency, he found his first professional work in commercials as the mysterious action man in the Cadbury milk tray television ads. The secret agent aesthetic and daring stunts would give him a taste of what 007 would later offer him.
His first film credit was as a Thai on the BBC’s big screen adaption of “Dr. Who and the Daleks” in 1965. Soon afterwards, his first brush with Bond came when stunt coordinator Bob Simmons and his right-hand man George Leech called up almost every professional stuntman in England to perform in the climatic volcano battle in “You Only Live Twice” (1967).
Simmons had noticed Grace in his Cadbury commercials. Leech was similarly impressed by Grace, who spent four weeks honing his ninja skills: scaling nets, sliding down ropes and practicing trampoline explosions. It was also on “You Only Live Twice” that Grace met a young Vic Armstrong, who went on to become stunt coordinator and action unit director on the later Bond movies.
In the 1970s, Grace performed at a nightly stunt show tour across Scandinavia. Winning a Charlton Heston talent contest in 1974 took him to Hollywood for the first time, where he also attended stunt classes to hone his skills in driving, parachuting, boxing, wrestling, fencing, swimming and gymnastics.
One of his first jobs as Moore’s double was to drive the Lotus Esprit through the windy narrow streets of Sardinia during the hellicopter and motorcycle chase. But unlike almost every chase scene in the Bond series, Grace was told explicitly that the ‘hero’ car had to be returned to Lotus in the exact same condition it was delivered. Grace also doubled for Richard Kiel in the long-shots of the Egyptian ruins when Jaws can be seen walking high above the crumbling columns. Another high-rise and high-stakes sequence for Grace was the pre-title sequence of “For your Eyes Only” when he had to hang on to the side of a helicopter as ‘Biofeld’ was trying his best to dipose of 007. Grace also doubled for Bond aloft the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in “A View To A Kill”. Sadly, Grace suffered terrible injuries during the production of “Octopussy” during the train sequence shot at the Nene Valley Railway in Peterborough, UK. To achieve the desired shots, Grace was called on to leap on to the train from a moving car and then later climb underneath and down the outer side of the carriages. In a rush to wrap filming during a break in the weather, communication broke down between the helicopter shooting the action, Grace, the 5 of 7 train driver, and the rest of the stunt team timing the sequence. Not being able to look in the direction of travel, Grace was unaware of a solid wall built parallel to the tracks on an unrehearsed section of track. The impact smashed his pelvis and thigh bones, but the adrenaline rush allowed him to hang on to the train until it came to a stop. He was rushed to Peterborough Hospital where he lay prone for several months, fearing that his career may be over. The accident affected crew morals. Immediately upon his return from India, Moore made his first of several visits to Grace in the hospital. Grace made a full recovery in time for the next Bond outing.
Grace also doubled for Moore in his non-Bond films, including “The Wild Geese” (1997), “North Sea Hijack” (1979), “Escape to Athena” (1979) “Sea Wolves” (1980), and “The Naked Face” (1984). Over his career, Grace worked on 73 motion pictures as well as many popular television programs including “Monk” and “Heroes”. His last big-screen stunt work was on the 2007 Jim Carrey vehicle “The Number 23”. After suffering a cycling accident in late November 2009, Martin fractured his pelvis and was hospitalized for some weeks. In late January he was taken from his home in Spain to hospital again after developing problems. He died at age 67 on the January 27th, 2010, after suffering an aneurysm.
Movies Made in Moab
Starring: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh and Kathleen Quinlan.
Stunt-coordinator: Jim Arnett
Scenes were filmed in the Moab area.
Story: A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert.
Further into the story ...
While gloating about how easy Jeff and his wife were to abduct by rigging their car to break down after leaving the gas station, as well as bragging that he intends to kill Jeff and his wife anyway, Earl discovers Jeff’s ruse with the ransom. At exactly the same moment, Jeff frees himself and stabs Earl in the chest with the letter opener. After a struggle in the speeding, swerving pickup. Jeff takes over the vehicle, bounds Earl, and forces him to reveal his rendezvous with Red at a local truck stop. Sheriff Boyd appears in his patrol car and, seeing the swerving pickup, calls for backup and stops the vehicle. After Jeff exits the truck with Earl’s pistol in hand, a stressed Boyd mistakes the situation and forces Jeff at gunpoint down onto the road. Earl frees himself and shoots Boyd with another pistol concealed in his boot. Just as Earl is about to shoot Jeff, a wounded Boyd shoots and kills Earl. Jeff uses Boyd’s radio to call for an ambulance and heads to the truck stop Earl mentioned.
At the rest stop, Jeff avoids the police looking for him in connection to the shooting of Boyd, and then spots Red talking on a payphone with another accomplice. Jeff follows Red to his truck where he jumps under the moving truck as Red drives away. Jeff loses his pistol while climbing aboard, but stows away to Red’s farm at which he arrives early the next morning. Hiding in a barn, Jeff watches as Red and his remaining accomplices take a bound and gagged Amy and lock her in a freezer in the barn’s cellar, leaving her to die. Unable to open the locked cellar door, Jeff finds a gun in Al’s truck and uses it to hold Red, his accomplices, and his wife and son at gunpoint, demands the cellar key. Billy escapes, but Jeff forces the rest of the group to safety, releases Amy from the freezer before locking them in the cellar. Jeff and Amy then flee in a stolen Chevrolet C-20 pickup, while Billy frees Red and Al, who then pursue the Taylors in their respective vehicles.
|If interested in learning more about the Hall of Fame, please contact John Hagner (Founder) at 435 260-2160.
Hall of Fame website: www.stuntmen.org
John Hagner (Founder) is also the Artist of the Stars.
His Celebrity Portrait Drawings are available at telephone 435-259-7000,
50 W. 400 N, Moab, Utah 84532.
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