Needham was born in Memphis,Tennessee and raised in Arkansas and Missouri. He served in the Army as a paratrooper during the Korean War, worked as a treetopper and was a billboard model for Viceroy Cigarettes while beginning a career in Hollywood as a movie stuntman.
His first break came as a stunt double for Richard Boone in “Have Gun -Will Travel”. He trained under John Wayne’s stunt double Chuck Roberson and became one of the top stuntmen of the 1960s on such films as “How the West Was Won”, ”The Bridge at Remagen” “McLintock”, “The War Lord” and “Little Man”. He doubled for Clint Walker and Burt Reynolds. Needham moved into stunt coordinating and directing second unit action, while designing and introducing air bags and other innovative equipment.
In 1971, he and fellow stuntmen Glenn Wilder and Ronnie Rondell formed Stunts Unlimited. He wrote a screenplay titled “Smokey and the Bandit” and his friend Reynolds offered him the chance to direct. It was a huge success and the two followed it with “Hooper”,“The Cannonball Run,” and “Stroker Ace”.
In his youth, Boone had attended the San Diego Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad,California. There, he was introduced to the theatre.
After the war, Boone was summoned to Hollywood, where he was given a seven-year contract with Fox.
In 1950, he made his screen debut as a Marine officer in “Halls of Montezuma”.
His television series, “Have Gun -Will Travel”, made him a national star.
Boone starred in three movies with John Wayne: “The Alamo”, “Big Jake” and “The Shootist”.
He was the voice actor for the dragon Smaug in the 1977 animated film of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. He and his family eventually moved to Hawaii.
|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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