It all started with a ‘dream’! And like so
many others with a dream, mine was a bit unique because
most of my childhood was spent wishing I could be a stuntman
in the movies and on television. However, it was next to
impossible way back then to pursue that honorable profession,
since I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where
the definition in the dictionary didn’t explain what
a stuntman is. The local downtown library only referred
to stunts as party tricks and games. Stuntmen and women
were not really known back East in the 1930s.
It wasn’t until I was discharged from the U.S. Navy
in 1947, married and had a son that I realized that the
best and only way to get in the stunt profession was to
move to California. In 1958 that’s what my wife and
son and I did... we sold our house and belongings and hopped
a Greyhound Bus and headed West.
Shortly after we arrived and moved into an apartment, I
took my 8 x 10s and began knocking on doors at the major
film studios, including Universal, Columbia, 20th Century-Fox
and Warner Bros. I not only took photos of me doing jumps
and fights and things like that, but being a professional
artist, I also took reproductions of my celebrity portraits.
If I could get into the casting offices, I would show them
my action shots and then would head over to the publicity
art departments and present my art work. It didn’t
happen overnight, but I kept on trudging ahead with my
dream. Having a lot of obligations toward my family, I
found miscellaneous art jobs and was able to keep up with
Two years of knocking on doors and such, I received a phone
call from 20th Century-Fox, who told me to come over to double
a well-known actor, the star of television series entitled, “Adventures
In Paradise,” whose name was Gardner McKay. That was
the beginning of a long and challenging career as a stunt/actor.
The dream was actually to found a museum and hall of fame
for stunt people. In 1973, it came true. I founded the Hollywood
Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame and Museum in Southern California.
It wasn’t until 1988 that, through the good graces
and efforts of Bette Stanton, who applied for and received
a grant for me to move all of my col1ection and personal
belongings to Moab and it was then that things really began
The doors of the Hall of Fame were opened to the visiting
public in the old Mormon Church one block off Main Street
(currently the MARC). It was there that we footprinted and
inducted many stunt performers and held several similar ceremonies
for nearly eight years, including Robert Duvall, Kris Kristofferson,
Wes Studi (Geronimo), Ernest Borgnine, Billy Crystal, Gene
Hackman, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Jack Palance and Harry
Carey, Jr. Such stunt legends as Ronnie Rondell, Buddy Joe
Hooker, Gary McLarty, and more than forty others were so
In 1996, we were persuaded to relocate the Hall of Fame
to a town in Washington State, but after several months of
trying to make it a success there, it was decided to put
my collection into storages for safe keeping. We returned
from that area in 1998 and moved back to Moab where we remain.
Working every day for a solution to returning all of the
memorabilia and artifacts to Moab is a very costly undertaking
and it is necessary to be able to find a facility large enough
to accommodate everything to store and refurbish the inventory
of irreplaceables such as saddles, boots, weapons, stunt
equipment, costumes, photos, paintings and posters, films,
videos and DVDs, etc.
The cost to move everything back is expensive. The Hall of
Fame needs tax-deductible donations and people to assist
in this enormous adventure.
We are asking for donations to the Hollywood Stuntmen’s
Hall of Fame and can be sent to 81 W. Kane Creek Blvd. -
#12, Moab, Utah 84532. Phone and FAX is 435 259-7027. Anyone
sincerely interested in helping, please contact John Hagner
(Founder/CEO). Our website is www.stuntmen.org.