Mar. 6th, 1931
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Hal Needham's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1984 - Cannonball Run II
1983 - Stroker Ace
1982 - Megaforce
1981 - The Cannonball Run
1976 - Jackson County Jail
1975 - Take a Hard Ride
1975 - W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings
1975 - French Connection II
1974 - Blazing Saddles
1972 - The Culpepper Cattle Co.
1970 - Sometimes a Great Notion
1969 - The Undefeated
1968 - The Devil's Brigade
1967 - The War Wagon
1963 - McLintock!
Guest TV Roles
One of the Hooligans
Judge Randall's guard
Talented US stuntman, director, writer and actor born March 6, 1931, in Memphis, Tennessee. Hal Needham has had an amazing career in film spanning the best part of five decades. Needham served as a paratrooper during the Korean War, in the logging industry, and even as a male model for Viceroy cigarettes, before beginning a career in Hollywood.
His first break was working as a stunt double for Richard Boone (I) in the TV western "Have Gun - Will Travel" (1957), plus he was a stunt regular on many other western TV shows including "Gunsmoke" (1955), "Rawhide" (1959) and "Black Saddle" (1959). With expert guidance from Chuck Roberson, who was the regular stunt double for John Wayne (I), Needham quickly honed his craft and developed a reputation as one of Hollywood's best stunt performers. He was a stunt performer in such well known films as Pork Chop Hill (1959), Our Man Flint (1966), The War Wagon (1967) and Tobruk (1967).
In the latter part of the 1960s, Needham moved into the stunt coordinator role, and, again, his talents were in high demand, and Needham became the stunt double and stunt coordinator on many Burt Reynolds (I) films including White Lightning (1973), The Longest Yard (1974) and Gator (1976). In 1976, Needham came to Reynolds with a script he had written about a wise-cracking ladies' man, and his trucker friend who try to transport a container full of beer across state lines for a handsome pay off. Reynolds liked the racy script, which honed in on the then CB radio craze, and he gave Needham the opportunity to direct the movie. Smokey and the Bandit (1977) starring Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed (I) and Jackie Gleason (I) was a monster hit, and took over $100 million at the box office, good enough money to green-light two sequels. Needham also directed Reynolds in the star-laden The Cannonball Run (1981), and the even more "over the top," but less successful Cannonball Run II (1984).
In 1980, Needham founded "Stunts Unlimited" with fellow stunt performers Robert Tessier, Glenn R. Wilder and Ronnie Rondell Jr..
Needham was fairly quiet in cinema during the 1980s, preferring to become involved in other projects; however, he was back behind the camera in the mid-1990s, directing several telemovies based around the "Bandit" character from the 1970s movies, plus he directed Street Luge (1996) and Hard Time: Hostage Hotel (1999) (TV).
One of Hollywoods great stunt innovators!
- Served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper.
- Billboard model for Viceroy Cigarettes.
- Doubled for 'Burt Reynolds (I)' (qv), 'Clint Walker (I)' (qv), 'Christopher George (I)' (qv), and 'Richard Boone (I)' (qv).
- When he began directing, his films were usually blasted by the critics but did well at the box office. He once took out an ad in the trade papers quoting his negative reviews but showing a wheel barrel filled with money to sum up his career.
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