A longtime member of the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures had the stunt assignments to double for some of filmland’s major actors, such as Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Cliff Robertson, Bob Conrad, Ross Martin, Richard Burton, Warren Beatty, Tom Bosley, Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine.
In the film, “Convoy,” Bob doubled for Ernest Borgnine when he leaped his car 165 feet through the air, crashing through a barn and landed on the ground. He separated all ribs on his left side and his sternum from collar bone. He even lost a couple of fillings in the impact. He stayed and finished the picture.
He doubled for John Saxon in the classic Western, “The Unforgiven.” On horseback he transferred one by one to three different mounts to tire out Audrey Hepburn’s steed which had been stolen by actor, Joseph Wiseman. He did chases all day long on location in Durango, Mexico ... it was very difficult, with many misses!
Bob did a high fall for the film, “River of No Return,” which starred Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. He landed into a Canadian canvas fireman’s net about 30-ft. over a 200-ft. gorge. He also performed a high fall, doubling British actor, John Mills, from an oil derrick on the movie, “Oklahoma Crude,” which starred George C. Scott. The fall was about 55-feet into an 8-ft. by 12-ft. catcher (consisting of cardboard boxes with crash pads on top.) This was before air bags, where a performer had to be alot more accurate.
Prior to Bob’s stunt career, he spent 2-years in combat in the South Pacific in the U.S. Navy. In school, he received a Track Scholarship to U.S.C. He also trained horses for “Ace” Hudkins Stables (who was Bob’s step-dad). Bob and stuntman, Gene LeBell were students together in Judo.
In 1938, Bob got his first taste of working in movies, as a Boy Scout. He became a stuntman in 1950.
His many appearances in films and numerous television shows include:
Wild, Wild West - Naked Gun - Air Wolf - The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Murder, She Wrote - The Wild Bunch - It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - Mousehunt - Metro - The Ten Com- mandments - Wonder Woman - Matlock - Rescue 911- L.A. Confidential - The L.A. Story - Hard Rain - Liar, Liar - Buffy - Vampire Slayer - Joe Kidd - Sneakers -Magnum P.I. - Hawaii 5-0 - Stagecoach - (starring Alex Cord) - The Great Race - Star Trek - Dallas - Cat Balou - Rio Bravo - The Lone Ranger - Roy Rogers, and Major Dundee. He also has the distinction of having worked in all of Audie Murphy’s films, as an actor and stuntman and at Warner Bros. in all of the TV Westerns produced there, such as: Sugarfoot - Cheyenne - Maverick - Colt ‘45 - and many others.
Though born Curtis Wain Gates in Lamar, Prowers County, southeastern Colorado, he lived his first ten years on a ranch on Muddy Creek in eastern Bent County. The family moved in 1926 to Las Animas, the county seat of Bent County, so that his father could run for sheriff.
Curtis was a quarterback of his Bent County High School football team and he played clarinet in the school band. He graduated in 1935. During WWII, Curtis served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1945.
Curtis was a singer with the Tommy Dorsey band in 1941, succeeding Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes. He joined the Sons of the Pioneers as a lead singer.
He remains best known for his role as Festus on “Gunsmoke”, starring James Arness.
|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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