Evel Knievel
Motorcycle Daredevil
Evel Knievel
Evel Knievel, born Robert Craig Knievel, was an American daredevil and entertainer. In his career he attempted over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980, and in 1974, a failed jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket. The 35 broken bones he suffered during his career earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of "most bones broken in a lifetime". Knievel died of pulmonary disease in Clearwater, Florida, aged 69.
Biography
Evel Knievel's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Evel Knievel from around the web
Watch Evel Knievel jump a pyramid of more than 50 cars at the Coliseum 44 years ago
LATimes - 9 days
Evel Knievel pulled off a lot of crazy stunts during his lifetime — so many in fact, that some fans actually were disappointed when he and his motorcycle easily jumped over a pyramid of more than 50 cars on the Coliseum floor 44 years ago. "If he had failed, I guess we would have gotten our money's...
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LATimes article
WATCH: Cockpit View of Stuntman Eddie Braun in Canyon Jump
ABC News - 5 months
The Hollywood stuntman successfully launched himself in a rocket over Idaho's Snake River Canyon in the name of his childhood idol, daredevil Evel Knievel.
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ABC News article
Stuntman Eddie Braun ‘Truly Proud’ of Completing Evel Knievel's Dream Rocket Jump
ABC News - 5 months
Eddie Braun dedicated Snake River Canyon jump to Evel Knievel.
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ABC News article
54-year-old stuntman jumps Snake River Canyon
CBS News - 5 months
More than 40 years after iconic daredevil Evel Knievel famously failed to jump Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho, Eddie Braun soared 2,000 feet in the air to complete the feat. Here's Danielle Nottingham with the story.
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CBS News article
Rocket man Eddie Braun flies over an Idaho canyon
Reuters.com - 5 months
A stuntman inspired by dare-devil Evel Knievel pays tribute to the legendary thrill-seeker by crossing Idaho's Snake River canyon on a rocket. Roselle Chen reports.
Article Link:
Reuters.com article
Eddie Braun does what Evel Knievel could not: make successful jump over Snake River Canyon
LATimes - 5 months
Stuntman Eddie Braun did what his boyhood idol, Evel Knievel, could not do, clearing the Snake River Canyon in Idaho on Friday. Braun, a 54-year-old stuntman from Southern California, utilized a steep ramp just like Knievel to help propel his rocket-powered craft across the gorge near Twin Falls...
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LATimes article
Stuntman attempts to complete failed Evel Knievel jump
Fox News - 5 months
Will he make it?
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Fox News article
Stuntman to try Evel Knievel's failed Snake River jump
CNN - 5 months
On September 8, 1974, Evel Knievel climbed into a steam-powered "rocket cycle" and blasted off a cliff over Idaho's Snake River.
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CNN article
Top Twenty Inventors Killed by Their Inventions
Huffington Post - 12 months
There's something ingrained in humans that cause us to take dangerous risks and try things that might change the world. Over the course of civilization, thousands upon thousands of inventions succeeded beyond their creator's wildest dream. But some were epic fails. Here's a look at the top twenty inventors who were killed by their own inventions. 20. Thomas Andrews was the chief naval architect for the R.M.S. Titanic and it was his honor to accompany the ship on its maiden voyage. Andrews was aware of the Titanic's vulnerability in ice-laden waters and originally called for the Titanic to be double-hulled and equipped with forty-six lifeboats, instead of the twenty it actually carried. He was overruled due to cost constraints. When the Titanic struck the iceberg on April 15, 1912, Andrews heroically helped many people into the lifeboats. He was last seen in the first-class smoking lounge, weeping. His body was never recovered. 19. William Bullock invented the first modern printing ...
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Huffington Post article
Falling on My Face
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Pixabay/Lady Arty Being one of the only girls in the mass of neighborhood kids made me constantly compete with the boys and try to impress them. This led to frequent stupidity and pain. After seeing George Hamilton play motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel at the movies, all of the boys -- and me, the girl they deigned to let join them -- decided to build a bike ramp. We wanted to reenact Knievel's scenes of bike-jumping glory. Craig, who was an Alpha Male before I knew what that meant, decided that he would build the ramp. He ordered us to scavenge the neighborhood to find the proper materials for his ramp. Only a Craig-approved ramp could showcase his superior bikemanship. And we, who were not Craig, could only exemplify his magnificence by participating with all of our awkward failure. My bike, a purple girly Schwinn, (a "Sting-Ray for Girls"), came with a flowered basket attached, a floral pattern on the banana seat, and streamers on the handlebars. I stripped it of all f ...
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Huffington Post article
Son of daredevil motorcyclist Evel Knievel charged with drunken driving
Reuters.com - almost 2 years
(Reuters) - The son of daredevil motorcyclist Evel Knievel was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving in his father’s hometown of Butte, Montana, after setting off a chain-reaction collision and fleeing in his vehicle, authorities said on Wednesday.
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Reuters.com article
3 crazy facts you didn't know about Evel Knievel
USA Today - almost 2 years
Evel Knievel was a very interesting man. There's a new documentary coming out called 'Being Evel' that's revealing even more. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has 3 things you probably didn't know about the daredevil.          
Article Link:
USA Today article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Evel Knievel
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2007
    Age 68
    Knievel was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in his hometown of Butte on December 10, 2007, following a funeral at the 7,500-seat Butte Civic Center presided over by Pastor Dr. Robert H. Schuller with actor Matthew McConaughey giving the eulogy.
    More Details Hide Details Prior to the Monday service, fireworks exploded in the Butte night sky as pallbearers carried Knievel's casket into the center. On July 10, 2010, a special temporary exhibit entitled True Evel: The Amazing Story of Evel Knievel was opened at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The exhibit was opened in collaboration with Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and Evel’s oldest son, Kelly. Among the various artifacts from Knievel’s life, the exhibit included his “Shark Jump” Harley-Davidson XR-750, the X-2 Skycycle, a blue jumpsuit from late in his career without any sponsor patches, and his trademark “red, white and blue” jumpsuit complete with his helmet and walking stick. Evel Knievel merchandising, personal artifacts, and X-rays from his injuries were also exhibited. The True Evel premiered at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee in September 2010. In December 2010, a traveling version of the exhibit began a one-year tour of the United Kingdom and Europe. The traveling Knievel museum is managed by his son, Kelly, and features several leather jumpsuits and helmets, Knievel's dragcar, the XR-750 used for the shark jump, and the Skycycle X-2.
    Evel Knievel died in Clearwater, Florida, on November 30, 2007, aged 69.
    More Details Hide Details He had been suffering from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis for many years. A longtime friend reported that Knievel had trouble breathing while at his residence in Clearwater, but died on the way to the hospital. "It's been coming for years, but you just don't expect it. Superman just doesn't die, right?" In one of his last interviews, he told Maxim Magazine, "You can't ask a guy like me why I performed. I really wanted to fly through the air. I was a daredevil, a performer. I loved the thrill, the money, the whole macho thing. All those things made me Evel Knievel. Sure, I was scared. You gotta be an ass not to be scared. But I beat the hell out of death."
    On April 1, 2007, Knievel appeared on Robert H. Schuller's television program Hour of Power and announced that he "believed in Jesus Christ" for the first time.
    More Details Hide Details At his request, he was baptized at a televised congregation at the Crystal Cathedral by Pastor Schuller. Knievel's televised testimony triggered mass baptisms at the Crystal Cathedral.
    The documentary was filmed in July 2007 around the annual "Evel Knievel Days" festival in his old home town of Butte.
    More Details Hide Details Knievel was clearly in severely declining health, but he still displayed the same spirit and showmanship that had driven his career. In 2003, Knievel signed over exclusive rights to Los Angeles composer Jef Bek, authorizing the production of a rock opera based on Knievel's life. Directed by Bat Boy co-creator Keythe Farley, the production opened in Los Angeles in September 2007 to some positive reviews. Knievel had partnered with Six Flags St. Louis to name a new wooden coaster after "America's Legendary Daredevil". The amusement park in Eureka, Missouri, outside of St. Louis, Missouri, opened the ride on June 20, 2008. The Evel Knievel Roller Coaster operated for three seasons before being renamed American Thunder in 2011. In the late 1990s, Knievel was in need of a life-saving liver transplant as a result of suffering the long-term effects from Hepatitis C. He contracted the disease after one of the numerous blood transfusions he received prior to 1992. In February 1999, Knievel was given only a few days to live and he requested to leave the hospital and die at his home. En route to his home, Knievel received a phone call from the hospital stating a young man had died in a motorcycle accident and could be a donor. Days later, Knievel successfully received the transplant.
    The 60-minute program Richard Hammond Meets Evel Knievel aired on December 23, 2007, less than a month after his death.
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  • 2006
    Age 67
    On July 27, 2006, on The Adam Carolla Show, Knievel said that he had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and required supplemental oxygen therapy 24 hours a day.
    More Details Hide Details The following day, Evel appeared on stage with Robbie at Evel Knievel Days in Butte, marking the last performance the two would appear together. Robbie jumped 196 feet in a tribute to his father. Shortly before his death, Knievel was saluted by Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond in a BBC2 Christmas special, Hammond having greatly admired Knievel.
  • 2005
    Age 66
    On October 9, 2005, Knievel promoted his last public "motorcycle ride" at the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson dealership.
    More Details Hide Details The ride was to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although he was originally scheduled to lead a benefit ride through Milwaukee, Knievel never rode the motorcycle because he suffered a mild (non-debilitating) stroke prior to the appearance and limited his visit to a signing session.
  • 1999
    Age 60
    In 1999, Knievel celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Snake River Canyon jump at the Twin Falls mall.
    More Details Hide Details His memorabilia was then stored at Kent Knigge's farm in Filer, Idaho, seven miles west of Twin Falls. During the same year, Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Knievel once dreamed of housing all of his career memorabilia in an Evel Knievel Museum to be located in his home state of Montana. Those dreams were unfulfilled, and his artifacts are spread throughout transportation museums and private collections around the world. Knievel's original blueprints and handwritten notes about his desired museum are currently displayed at the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum in downtown Miami, Oklahoma. The Route 66 site also houses Evel's Snake River Canyon Jump Mission Control Super Van.
    In 1999, Knievel married his girlfriend, Krystal Kennedy of Clearwater, Florida, whom he began dating in 1992. The marriage was held on November 19, 1999, on a special platform built on the fountains at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip (site of Evel's jump New Year's Eve 1967). Long-time friend Engelbert Humperdinck sent a recorded tribute to the couple. The couple was married for two years, divorcing in 2001.
    More Details Hide Details Following the divorce, Krystal Knievel was granted a restraining order against him. However, Krystal and Evel would work out their differences, living together until Knievel's death. According to the investment magazine, Registered Rep., Knievel left his entire estate to Krystal. During the 1980s, Knievel would drive around the country in a recreational vehicle, selling works of art allegedly painted by him. After several years of obscurity, Knievel made a significant marketing comeback in the 1990s, representing Maxim Casino, Little Caesars, Harley-Davidson, and other firms.
  • FORTIES
  • 1981
    Age 42
    In 1981, Saltman was awarded a $13 million judgment against Knievel in a civil trial, but never received money from Knievel or Knievel's estate.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1977
    Age 38
    On October 14, 1977, Knievel pleaded guilty to battery and was sentenced to three years' probation and six months in county jail, during which he publicly flaunted his brief incarceration for the press.
    More Details Hide Details After the assault of Saltman and time served in jail, Knievel lost most marketing endorsements and deals, including Harley-Davidson and Ideal Toys. With no income from jumping or sponsorship, Knievel was eventually forced to declare bankruptcy.
    Also in 1977, Warner Bros. released Viva Knievel!, a movie starring Knievel as himself and co-starring Lauren Hutton, Gene Kelly and Red Buttons.
    More Details Hide Details Similar to The Bionic Woman, actual footage from the Wembley jump was used in the movie. In addition, the 1999 children's TV series Hilltop Hospital featured a character based on Knievel called Weasel Kneasel, who was the focus of an episode of the same name. While Knievel was healing from his latest round of injuries, the book Evel Knievel on Tour was released. Authored by Knievel's promoter for the Snake River Canyon jump, Shelly Saltman, the book painted an unflattering picture of Knievel's character, alleging that he abused his wife and kids and he used drugs. Knievel, with both arms still in casts, flew to California to confront Saltman, a VP at 20th Century Fox. Outside the studio commissary, one of Knievel's friends grabbed Saltman and held him, while Knievel attacked him with an aluminum baseball bat, declaring, "I'm going to kill you!" According to a witness to the attack, Knievel struck repeated blows at Saltman's head, with Saltman blocking the blows with his left arm. Saltman's arm and wrist were shattered in several places before he fell to the ground unconscious. It took numerous surgeries and permanent metal plates in his arm to eventually give Saltman back the use of his arm. Saltman's book was pulled from the shelves by the publisher after Knievel threatened to sue. Saltman later produced documents in both criminal and civil court that proved that, although Knievel claimed to have been insulted by statements in Saltman's book, he and his lawyers had actually been given editorial access to the book and had approved and signed off on every word prior to its publication.
    Knievel made several television appearances, including frequenting as a guest on talk shows such as Dinah! and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. In 1977, Evel made a guest spot on The Bionic Woman, where he played himself and gets inadvertently caught up in East German espionage while appearing in West Germany.
    More Details Hide Details Actual footage from Evel's L.A. Coliseum jump over crushed cars was used in the beginning of the episode and an indoor jump over 11 cars and 1 van was used at the end of the film.
    In 1977, Bally marketed its Knievel pinball machine as the "first fully electronic commercial game"; it has elsewhere been described as one of the "last of the classic pre-digital games." (Both electromechanical and solid state versions were produced.
    More Details Hide Details The electromechanical version is extremely rare, with only 155 made).
  • 1973
    Age 34
    In 1973, Ideal released the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle.
    More Details Hide Details After the release of the Stunt Cycle, the Knievel toys were the best selling item for Ideal. During the next four years, Ideal Toys released various models relating to Evel Knievel’s touring stunt show. The models included a Robbie Knievel doll, the Scramble Van, a Dragster, a Stunt Car, and the Evel Knievel The Stunt World. Additionally, Ideal released non-Knievel-touring toys, including a Chopper Motorcycle, a Trail Bike, and a female counterpart, Derry Daring. The last item before Ideal Toys discontinued the distribution of Knievel toys was the Strato-Cycle, based on the film, Viva Knievel!
  • 1972
    Age 33
    Between 1972 and 1977, Ideal Toy Company released a series of Evel Knievel-related merchandise.
    More Details Hide Details During the six years the toys were manufactured, Ideal claimed to have sold more than $125 million worth of Knievel toys. The toys included the original 1972 figures, which offered various outfits and accessories.
  • 1971
    Age 32
    Knievel's courtship and marriage to Linda was the theme of the 1971 George Hamilton movie, Evel Knievel. Linda and Evel separated in the early 1990s and were divorced in 1997.
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    At approximately the same time, Fanfare Films started production of Evel Knievel, a 1971 movie starring George Hamilton as Knievel.
    More Details Hide Details There have been two other movies made about Evel: a television pilot made in 1974 starring Sam Elliott, and made-for-TV film in 2004 starring George Eads. Also in 1974, Evel and Amherst Records released at the Sound City Studios the self title album Evel Knievel, which included a press conference, an anti-drug talk for his young fans, and four other tracks. Knievel kept up his pursuit of getting the United States government to allow him to jump the Grand Canyon. To push his case, he hired famed San Francisco defense attorney Melvin Belli to fight the legal battle in obtaining government permission. ABC's Wide World of Sports started showing Knievel's jumps on television regularly. His popularity, especially with young boys, was ever increasing. He became a hero to a generation of young boys, many of whom were injured trying to imitate his stunts. A. J. Foyt made Knievel part of his pit crew for the Indianapolis 500 in 1970. Evel Knievel's huge fame caused him to start traveling with a bodyguard, Boots Curtis. Curtis became a long-time friend to Knievel.
    A near-riot erupted on March 3, 1971, at the Cow Palace when a tire-iron (or Coke can according to the Hells Angels) was thrown at Knievel during his stunt show, and Knievel and a majority of the spectators fought back, sending three of the fifteen Hells Angels to the hospital.
    More Details Hide Details He also starred in a motion picture, Viva Knievel!, in which his character (himself) foils a drug lord's attempt to smuggle narcotics into the United States. Knievel was a proponent of motorcycle helmet safety. He constantly encouraged his fans to wear motorcycle helmets. The Bell Star helmet used in the Caesars' Palace jump is credited for saving Knievel's life after he fell off the motorcycle and hit his head on the ground (following the Caesars' Palace crash, each of Knievel's full-face helmets had the slogan, "Color Me Lucky"). As an ardent supporter of helmet use, Knievel once offered a cash reward for anyone who witnessed him stunting on a motorcycle without a helmet. In 1987, Knievel supported a mandatory helmet bill in the State of California. During the Assembly Transportation Committee meeting, Knievel was introduced as "the best walking commercial for a helmet law". Evel claimed the main reason he was still alive and walking was because he was wearing a helmet.
    In the 1971 biopic, George Hamilton (as Evel) emphasizes in the opening monologue that a man does not go back on his word.
    More Details Hide Details Knievel would regularly share his anti-drug message, as it was another one of his core values. Knievel would preach an anti-drug message to children and adults before each of his stunts. One organization that Knievel regularly slammed for being drug dealers was the Hells Angels.
    The Confederate stars jumpsuit was used in the beginning and ending of the 1971 film, Evel Knievel.
    More Details Hide Details Following the Confederate stars, Knievel adjusted the blue stripes to a V-shape (the first version of the V-shape was also used in the 1971 film's final jump). For the remainder of his career, variants of the V-shaped white-starred jumpsuit would be a constant, including a special nylon/canvas flightsuit that matched his white leathers for the X-2 jump. Each variant would become more elaborate, including the addition of the red-white-blue cape and the Elvis-styled belt-buckled with his initials “EK”. In 1975, Knievel premiered the blue leathers with red stars on the white stripes for the Wembley jump. Both the blue leathers and white leathers were featured in Viva Knievel! One of Evel's qualities was that he had great pride in his core values. Throughout his career (and later life), he would repeatedly talk about the importance of "keeping his word". He stated that although he knew he may not successfully make a jump or even survive the canyon jump, he followed through with each stunt because he gave his word that he would. Prior to the canyon jump, Knievel stated, "If someone says to you, 'that guy should have never jumped the canyon. You knew if he did, that he'd lose his life and that he was crazy.' Do me a favor. Tell him that you saw me here and regardless of what I was, that you knew me, and that I kept my word."
    The term was made popular in the 1971 movie Evel Knievel starring George Hamilton.
    More Details Hide Details In the movie, Hamilton (as Knievel) states, "I am the last gladiator in the new Rome. I go into the arena and I compete against destruction and I win. And next week, I go out there and I do it again." Evel Knievel's 1988 self-produced documentary was entitled Last of the Gladiators. "Evel Knievel...may be the last great gladiator" is a quote from an article by David Lyle about Knievel that appeared in the January 1970 issue of Esquire magazine. Knievel briefly used a Honda 250cc motorcycle, using it to jump a crate of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions, which was his first known jump. Knievel then used a Norton Motorcycle Company 750cc. He used the Norton for only one year during 1966. Between 1967 and 1968, Knievel jumped using the Triumph Bonneville T120 (with a 650cc engine). Knievel used the Triumph at the Caesars Palace crash on New Year's Eve 1967. When Knievel returned to jumping after the crash, he used Triumph for the remainder of 1968.
    The term Last Gladiator was coined and attributed to Knievel circa 1971.
    More Details Hide Details The term refers to the Roman gladiator, who entered an arena to fight numerous foes to which he may vanquish death with skill and bravery.
    In the 1971 movie, Evel Knievel, George Hamilton (as Knievel) alludes to the canyon jump in the final scene of the movie.
    More Details Hide Details One of the common movie posters for the film depicts Knievel jumping his motorcycle off a (likely) Grand Canyon cliff. In 1999, son Robbie Knievel jumped a portion of the Grand Canyon owned by the Hualapai Indian Reservation. ABC Sports was unwilling to pay the price Knievel wanted for the Snake River Canyon jump, so he hired boxing promoter Bob Arum's company, Top Rank Productions, to put the event on closed-circuit television and broadcast to movie theaters. Investors in the event took a substantial loss, including promoter Don E. Branker, as well as Vince McMahon of the World Wrestling Federation. Arum partnered with Invest West Sports, Shelly Saltman's company, to secure from Invest West Sports two things: first, the necessary financing for the jump, and second, the services of Saltman, long recognized as one of America's premier public relations and promotion men, to do publicity so that Knievel could concentrate on his jumps. Knievel hired subcontractor and aeronautical engineer Doug Malewicki to build him a rocket-powered cycle to jump across the Snake River, and called it the X-1 Skycycle. Malwecki's creation was powered by a steam engine built by former Aerojet engineer Robert Truax. On April 15, 1972, the X-1 was launched to test the feasibility of the launching ramp. The decision was then made to have Truax build the Skycycle X-2 and have it take off and fly more like a rocket than a motorcycle.
    Knievel switched his attention in 1971 to the Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1968
    Age 29
    During a 1968 interview, Knievel stated, "I don't care if they say, 'Look, kid, you're going to drive that thing off the edge of the Canyon and die,' I'm going to do it.
    More Details Hide Details I want to be the first. If they'd let me go to the moon, I'd crawl all the way to Cape Kennedy just to do it. I'd like to go to the moon, but I don't want to be the second man to go there." For the next several years, Knievel negotiated with the federal government to secure a jumping site and develop various concept bikes to make the jump, but the Interior Department denied him airspace over the northern Arizona canyon.
    Although Knievel never attempted to jump the Grand Canyon, rumors of the Canyon jump were started by Knievel himself in 1968, following the Caesars Palace crash.
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    On August 3, 1968, Knievel returned to jumping, making more money than ever before.
    More Details Hide Details He was earning approximately $25,000 per performance, and he was making successful jumps almost weekly until October 13, in Carson City, Nevada. While trying to stick the landing, he lost control of the bike and crashed, breaking his hip again. By 1971, Knievel realized that the U.S. government would never allow him to jump the Grand Canyon. To keep his fans interested, Knievel considered several other stunts that might match the publicity that would have been generated by jumping the canyon. Ideas included jumping across the Mississippi River, jumping from one skyscraper to another in New York City, and jumping over 13 cars inside the Houston Astrodome. While flying back to Butte from a performance tour, Knievel looked out the window and saw the Snake River Canyon. After finding a location just east of Twin Falls, Idaho, that was wide enough, deep enough, and on private property, Knievel leased for $35,000 to stage his jump. He set the date for Labor Day (September 4), 1972.
    On May 25, 1968, in Scottsdale, Arizona, Knievel crashed while attempting to jump fifteen Ford Mustangs.
    More Details Hide Details Knievel ended up breaking his right leg and foot as a result of the crash.
  • 1967
    Age 28
    Sarno finally agreed to meet Knievel and the deal was set for Knievel to jump the fountains on December 31, 1967.
    More Details Hide Details After the deal was set, Knievel tried to get ABC to air the event live on Wide World of Sports. ABC declined, but said that if Knievel had the jump filmed and it was as spectacular as he said it would be, they would consider using it later. Knievel, 29, used his own money to have actor/director John Derek produce a film of the Caesars' jump. To keep costs low, Derek used his then-wife Linda Evans as one of the camera operators. It was Evans who filmed Knievel's famous landing. On the morning of the jump, Knievel stopped in the casino and placed his last 100 dollars on the blackjack table (which he lost), stopped by the bar and had a shot of Wild Turkey and then headed outside where he was joined by several members of the Caesars staff, as well as two showgirls. After doing his normal pre-jump show and a few warm up approaches, Knievel began his real approach. When he hit the takeoff ramp, he felt the motorcycle unexpectedly decelerate. The sudden loss of power on the takeoff caused Knievel to come up short and land on the safety ramp which was supported by a van. This caused the handlebars to be ripped out of his hands as he tumbled over them onto the pavement where he skidded into the Dunes parking lot. As a result of the crash, Knievel suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist, and both ankles and a concussion that kept him in the hospital.
    While in Las Vegas to watch Dick Tiger successfully defend his WBA and WBC light heavyweight titles at the Convention Center on November 17, 1967, Knievel first saw the fountains at Caesars Palace and decided to jump them.
    More Details Hide Details To get an audience with the casino's CEO Jay Sarno, Knievel created a fictitious corporation called Evel Knievel Enterprises and three fictitious lawyers to make phone calls to Sarno. Knievel also placed phone calls to Sarno claiming to be from ABC-TV and Sports Illustrated inquiring about the jump.
    Then he attempted the same jump on July 28, 1967, in Graham, Washington, where he had his next serious crash.
    More Details Hide Details Landing his cycle on a panel truck that was the last vehicle, Knievel was thrown from his bike. This time he suffered a serious concussion. After a month, he recovered and returned to Graham on August 18 to finish the show; but the result was the same, only this time the injuries were more serious. Again coming up short, Knievel crashed, breaking his left wrist, right knee and two ribs. Knievel first received national exposure when actor Joey Bishop had him on as a guest of The Joey Bishop Show. The national attention brought both a larger paycheck and larger fanbase.
    With each successful jump, the public wanted him to jump one more car. On May 30, 1967, Knievel successfully cleared sixteen cars in Gardena, California.
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  • 1966
    Age 27
    The debut of Knievel and his daredevils was on January 3, 1966, at the National Date Festival in Indio, California.
    More Details Hide Details The show was a huge success. Knievel received several offers to host the show after their first performance. The second booking was in Hemet, California, but was canceled due to rain. The next performance was on February 10, in Barstow, California. During the performance, Knievel attempted a new stunt where he would jump, spread eagle, over a speeding motorcycle. Knievel jumped too late and the motorcycle hit him in the groin, tossing him fifteen feet into the air. He was placed in the hospital as a result of his injuries. When released, he returned to Barstow to finish the performance he had started almost a month earlier. Knievel's daredevil show broke up after the Barstow performance because injuries prevented him from performing. After recovering, Knievel started traveling from small town to small town as a solo act. To get ahead of other motorcycle stunt people who were jumping animals or pools of water, Knievel started jumping cars. He began adding more and more cars to his jumps when he would return to the same venue to get people to come out and see him again. Knievel hadn't had a serious injury since the Barstow performance, but on June 19 in Missoula, Montana, he attempted to jump twelve cars and a cargo van. The distance he had for takeoff didn't allow him to get up enough speed. His back wheel hit the top of the van while his front wheel hit the top of the landing ramp.
  • 1962
    Age 23
    During 1962, Knievel broke his collarbone and shoulder in a motocross accident.
    More Details Hide Details The doctors said he couldn't race for at least six months. To help support his family, he switched careers and sold insurance for the Combined Insurance Company of America, working for W. Clement Stone. Stone suggested that Knievel read Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, a book that Stone wrote with Napoleon Hill. Knievel credited much of his later success to Stone and his book. Knievel was successful as an insurance salesman (even selling insurance policies to several institutionalized mental patients) and wanted recognition for his efforts. When the company refused to promote him to vice-president after he had been a few months on the job, he quit. Wanting a new start away from Butte, Knievel moved his family to Moses Lake, Washington. There, he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted motocross racing. During the early 1960s, he and other dealers had difficulty promoting and selling Japanese imports because of the steep competition of their auto industry, and the Moses Lake Honda dealership eventually closed. After the closure, Knievel went to work for Don Pomeroy at his motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, Washington. Jim Pomeroy, a well-known motocross racer, taught Knievel how to do a "wheelie," and ride while standing on the seat of the bike.
  • 1961
    Age 22
    In response Knievel, who was learning about the culling of elk in Yellowstone, decided to hitchhike from Butte to Washington, D.C. in December 1961 to raise awareness and to have the elk relocated to areas where hunting was permitted.
    More Details Hide Details After his conspicuous trek (he hitchhiked with a rack of elk antlers and a petition with 3,000 signatures), he presented his case to Representative Arnold Olsen, Senator Mike Mansfield, and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. As a result of his efforts, the culling was stopped. When the population grows, the elk have since been regularly captured and relocated to areas of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. After returning home to the west from Washington, DC, Knievel decided to stop committing crimes. He joined the motocross circuit and had moderate success, but he still could not make enough money to support his family.
  • 1960
    Age 21
    To help promote his team and earn some money, he convinced the 1960 Olympic Czechoslovakian hockey team to play the Butte Bombers in a warm-up game to the Olympics.
    More Details Hide Details Knievel was ejected from the game minutes into the third period and left the stadium. When the Czechoslovakian officials went to the box office to collect the expense money that the team was promised, workers discovered the game receipts had been stolen. The United States Olympic Committee wound up paying the Czechoslovakian team's expenses to avoid an international incident. Evel Knievel also played with the Charlotte Checkers of the Eastern Hockey League. After the birth of his first son, Kelly, Knievel realized that he needed to come up with a new way to support his family financially. Using the hunting and fishing skills taught to him by his grandfather, Knievel started the Sur-Kill Guide Service. He guaranteed that if a hunter employed his service and paid his fee, he would get the big game animal desired or he would refund his fee. Business was very good until game wardens realized that Knievel was taking his clients into Yellowstone National Park to find prey. The Park Service ordered Knievel to cease and desist this poaching.
  • 1959
    Age 20
    Always looking for new thrills and challenges, Knievel participated in local professional rodeos and ski jumping events, including winning the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men's ski jumping championship in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details During the late 1950s, Knievel joined the United States Army. His athletic ability allowed him to join the track team, where he was a pole vaulter. After his army stint, Knievel returned to Butte, where he met and married his first wife, Linda Joan Bork. Shortly after getting married, Knievel started the Butte Bombers, a semi-pro hockey team.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1956
    Age 17
    After a police chase in 1956 in which he crashed his motorcycle, Knievel was taken to jail on a charge of reckless driving.
    More Details Hide Details When the night jailer came around to check the roll, he noted Robert Knievel in one cell and William Knofel in the other. Knofel was well known as "Awful Knofel" ("awful" rhyming with "Knofel") so Knievel began to be referred to as Evel Knievel ("Evel" rhyming with "Knievel"). He chose this misspelling for his first name because he didn't want to be considered "evil".
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1938
    Born
    Born in Butte, Montana in 1938, Bobby Knievel was the first of two children born to Robert E. and Ann Marie Keough Knievel. His surname is of German origin; his great-great-grandparents on his father's side emigrated to the United States from Germany. His mother was of Irish ancestry. Robert and Ann divorced in 1940 after the birth of their second child, Nicolas, known as Nic.
    More Details Hide Details Both parents decided to leave Butte. Bobby and Nic were raised in Butte by their paternal grandparents, Ignatius and Emma Knievel. At the age of eight, Bobby attended a Joie Chitwood Auto Daredevil Show, to which he gave credit for his later career choice to become a motorcycle daredevil. Knievel left high school in Butte after his sophomore (2nd) year and got a job in the copper mines as a diamond drill operator with the Anaconda Mining Company. But he preferred motorbiking to all this "unimportant stuff." He was promoted to surface duty, where he drove a large earth mover. Knievel was fired when he made the earth mover do a motorcycle-type wheelie and drove it into Butte's main power line. The incident left the city without electricity for several hours. Without work, Knievel began to get into trouble around Butte.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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