Ever thought about how many lives stunt performers have? Well, it takes a lot of courage and great sacrifice to succeed as a stunt performer. Some people have lost their lives in the process but for Evel Knievel, he has defied death several times, thus, becoming the world’s greatest motorcycle stuntman.
After being in near death situations trying to achieve a feat no one has ever achieved, he has written his name in the sands of time. His greatest feat as a stunt performer was recently recreated by Travis Pastrana on July 8, 2018, which brought his legacy back to life. Learn more Knievel about him below.
Who was Evel Knievel, How Did He Die?
Robert Craig Knievel Jr otherwise known by his stage name Evel Knievel was a professional American stuntman; as well as an entertainer and painter. His unparallel stunt performing skills have placed him as one of the greatest stunt performers the world has ever known, thus putting his name in the annals of history. During his career, Knievel completed over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps and was also inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Evel Knievel was born as Robert Craig Knievel Jr, in a town called Butte situated in Montana City of the United States on October 17, 1938. He was raised along with his younger brother Nicholas by their paternal grandparents Emma and Ignatius Knievel. His parents Robert and Ann Marie Knievel divorced after the birth of his younger brother in 1940 and both decided to leave the town. While growing up in Butte, Knievel was inspired to be a stunt performer after watching Joie Chitwood’s Auto Daredevil Show.
He also attended Butte High School and dropped out after his second year. Soon after he left school; he joined a mining company called Anaconda Mining Company where he worked as a drill operator. His flair for stunts landed him in a lot of troubles including spending some time in jail.
He began his stunt performing career in 1966 while he was working with a motorcycle shop in Washington. He drew so many customers to the shop by performing various stunts including jumping over parked cars, caged cougars, and rattlesnakes. Impressed with what he saw, the then-famous stuntman Joie Chitwood created a group called Evel Knievel’s Motorcycle Daredevils. After a few weeks of jumping over vehicles, blasting walls, and burning plywood, Knievel took a break to repair his body.
He suffered a near-death crash on December 31, 1967, when he attempted to jump over the Las Vegas Caesar’s Palace casino fountain. His motorcycle’s back wheel caught from the edge which made Knievel to land on the ramps of a safety van. As a result of the incident, he sufffered from hip, ankle, and wrist fractures as well as broken femur and pelvis. He further spent about 29 days in a coma.
However, Evel Knievel tried to jump over 13 single deck buses at the Wembley Stadium in May 1975. The stunt wasn’t successful as Knievel broke his back in the process. He also performed one more stunt in October 1975, this time he successfully jumped over fourteen Greyhound buses; after which he went on retirement.
He married Linda Joan Bork during the late ’50s and they were blessed with four children – two sons and two daughters. One of his sons Robert III also trailed the same path as his father, becoming a stunt performer just like him. After thirty-eight years of marriage, Evel and his wife went their separate ways in 1997. In 1999, he married Krystal Kennedy; surprisingly their marriage didn’t work out and they eventually divorced.
Having survived several death traps all through his stunts career; the iconic stuntman suffered from liver failure during the ‘90s and was miraculously saved after he was told that he has few days to live. He also suffered from an incurable terminal lung infection and diabetes in 2005. After two years of battling with the sickness, Evel Knievel kicked the bucket at age 69 on November 30, 2007. According to sources, the legend died on his way to the hospital in Clearwater, Florida.
See His Unique Toy Collection
While his son Robert has become a professional stunt performer just like his father; his brother Kelly Knievel has worked on preserving their father’s legacy through developing different children products. The product ranges from playsets to plastic models as well as museum exhibits. Over the years, he has developed series of Knievel toy collection including the cycle sets; the Evel Knievel Scramble Van, the stunt gaming sets, and lots more. Watch the video below to see more of his unique toy collection.