November 30, 2007

Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel dead at 69: Immortalized in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump an Idaho canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

posted by tommytrump to extreme at 04:22 PM - 19 comments

Spectacular crashes, crazy life, bet even he didn't think he was gonna live this long!! I have seen the canyon he tried to jump, fish the Snake river all the time, and that man was insane to think he could clear that. But try he did and we were all enthralled. R.I.P. Evel

posted by GoBirds at 04:56 PM on November 30, 2007

I doubt we'll ever have a chance to see another daredevil Legend like Evel. Would any venues, agents, or insurance companies take the risk of someone possibly suffering lethal injuries in front of 50,000+ or on live TV. Seems that the more acceptable risks today consist of what the atheletes do behind closed doors and the ability to turn a blind eye. RIP Evel, and thank you for laying it all on the line.

posted by BoKnows at 05:13 PM on November 30, 2007

I was fortunate to meet Evel on two occasions. The first time at a bar shortly after his liver transplant and the second time on his RV as he was traveling with his exhibit of memorabilia. He was a surly, profane, and ill-tempered man who none the less enjoyed sharing his stories of his daredevil feats. I was one of two people on his tour bus/RV and he showed us his helmets, new Harley stuff he had just purchased at his last tour stop. He offered us a drink and showed us an extremely cool, 3 foot long picture of him at the apex of his jump at Caesar's Palace. I told him that as a kid, I had all the Evel Knievel toys and he laughed and said something to the effect that if had had the royalties he was due for those things, we wouldn't be having this conversation and he wouldn't be on this tour. It was obvious that he was in a lot of pain and he eventually told us we had to leave because he was tired and wanted to nap. He snatched up this little white poodle-looking kick-me dog, laid himself down on the RV's couch, and went to sleep. My friend and I looked at each other, walked down the steps of the RV, and shut the door behind us. A very cool thing, indeed. He reminded me of a quite grumpy older uncle who you could not help but grudgingly like. In the seventies, as a kid, he was a sort of hero to me. Of course I extend my sympathies to his loved ones that he left behind. R.I.P.

posted by THX-1138 at 05:23 PM on November 30, 2007

I grew up idolizing Evel Knievel. From playing with my toy motorcycle & E.K. doll to jumping my bicycle over objects. Acting like I was jumping over Snake River or school buses. Going to school with my E.K. metal lunch box & wishing I would grow up to do the death defying stunts he did. I even dressed up like E.K. for Halloween ( helmet, jumpsuit, & cape too.) I want to thank you for helping a kids (my) imagination run wild. RIP Mr. Knievel

posted by beermn at 06:06 PM on November 30, 2007

I grew up also in wonerment of Evel. In retrospect - only one word comes to mind . . . "SHOWMAN" R.I.P. Evel - May God Bless his family.

posted by B-2 Spirit at 06:53 PM on November 30, 2007

If Evel had a modern motorcycle with the good suspension systems he could have jumped over the moon, or at least gave it a good try. See ya Evel. I'll miss you.

posted by Ironhead at 06:57 PM on November 30, 2007

I found a funny poignant Evel Knieval tribute film starring his action figure and motorcycle toy. Steve Mandich has compiled a huge catalog of photos and scans of Evel pop culture references that shows how big he was back in the '70s. I can still remember speculating on his chances to jump Snake River with my elementary school classmates.

posted by rcade at 06:59 PM on November 30, 2007

I had an Evel lunch box, and a puzzle, and an action figure... Good choice for category. Extreme. .

posted by scully at 07:14 PM on November 30, 2007

Personally I though the guy was nuts. But gutsy in a weird sense and made me jittery at the Snake River attempt RIP, hoping the here after allows jumping without wings.

posted by smdragon at 07:34 PM on November 30, 2007

Growing up, he was everything we were not, and everything we wanted to be, in the early 1990's. RIP Evel.

posted by SFValley_Dude at 07:34 PM on November 30, 2007

The summer that Evil was going to jump the Snake River Canyon I was at my grandparents farm in northern Arkansas. I was 13 and had my Yamaha 90cc motorcycle with me. My cousin David who was 2 years older than me (he was the idea man) was down staying with me too. We decided to build a ramp and jump one of the barbed wire fences. We used every piece of scrap wood that we could find and built what we thought was a ramp of spectacular engineering and strength. My cousin being the oldest was to take the first jump. He rode the bike to the top of the ramp (about 4ft off of the ground) and gazed at the fence that lay before him. He backed down the ramp and rode to where he was to start his assault. He hit the ramp at about 30 mph and the hit the fence upon the ramp's collapse at about 33mph. The fact that it was old barbed wire meant that the fence gave and wrapped him up in it. Man, was he a mess. Grandma cleaned the cuts and his screams could be heard for miles and the neighbor about a mile away said that his cows quit giving milk for a few days after they heard the screams. Dave ended up going to town for stitches and I had ice cream on the porch. Evil will be missed. RIP

posted by budman13 at 08:01 PM on November 30, 2007

Good Lord, who didn't like Evil? I remember as a pup, my brother and I each had Evil Knievel action figures with motorbikes, ahhh, the memories....R.I.P. bro.....

posted by Marko2020 at 08:01 PM on November 30, 2007

Oh man, Im glad Im not alone on this one. I LOVED Evel as kid!! I remember having to wait over an hour (seemed like a lifetime to a small boy) while the network went over and over how jumping the shark tank was isane! Of course now we know those sharks probably would have been scared to death had that bike entered the pool at 65 MHP...LOL But man the intensity of the hype, then the crash at the end just mezmerizing for me. I will be the first to say I wasnt the the kid who tried to jump the car on my BMX, cuz I knew how much failing would hurt. I guess thats why I idolized him, I wished I could have had that courage. I wonder what it must have felt like when he did clear some huge jump? Must have been awesome. RIP Evel, P.S. Ask St. Peter if he wouldnt mind Pay per viewing you jumping those pearly gates. Your fan, FC

posted by firecop at 11:23 PM on November 30, 2007

I, too, had the Evel Knievel stunt bike and action figure, and used to play the Evel Knievel video game at my local roller skating rink as a young lad. I remember watching him try to jump all those damn buses at the Astrodome (at least I think it was the Astrodome, but I have no idea how many buses), and thinking, This is the coolest thing they've ever shown on TV! To this day, though, his crash at Caesar's Palace is one of the most horrific crashes I've ever seen. I can't believe he lived as long as he did.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 11:48 AM on December 01, 2007

As I grew up in the boredom of suburban life, Evel's stunts punctuated my childhood with the excitement of knowing that while there was an edge out there, men of daring could cross over that line and live. But there was a cost and frankly, I'm amazed Knievel lived as long as he did. Here's a tribute to Evel that contains his plans to pull off the ultimate stunt, jumping from an airplane with no parachute.

posted by indigoskye at 01:20 PM on December 01, 2007

The original and best stunt junkie -- he amazed and scared constantly. RIP

posted by Monica Poland at 02:11 PM on December 01, 2007

Definetly the craziest SOB of his era.Me being 48,I remember as a kid how I was in awe of this man.I watched every jump,and have several on tape.Myself,as a young kid,started out jumping tires on a bicycle pretending to be Evel.Then as I got older I got a Suzuki 125cc and began doing little jumps and got into dirt riding.He did seem to be a little arrogant,but that was him,Evel Knievel, the best daredevil jumper and craziest SOB of his time.May he rest in peace.

posted by Ghastly1 at 06:55 PM on December 01, 2007

He was one of the first real men! Evel did what a lot of men wanted to do but wouldn't dare try. A pioneer, a stud and a man with no equal in his time. He did feats that brought fame and opportunity to X-Games and all the extreme sports out there. And he did them without todays technology (and medicine).

posted by urall cloolis at 01:44 AM on December 02, 2007

Evel Knievel on the Dick Cavett show. there's also a link there to a podcast with some Evel goodness. [via]

posted by goddam at 12:21 AM on December 03, 2007

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