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 Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69

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PostSubject: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:17 pm

Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69

Associated Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Evel Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over crazy obstacles including Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho's Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

Knievel's death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel. He had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs.

Knievel had undergone a liver transplant in 1999 after nearly dying of hepatitis C, likely contracted through a blood transfusion after one of his bone-shattering spills.

Longtime friend and promoter Billy Rundel said Knievel had trouble breathing at his Clearwater condominium and died before an ambulance could get him to a hospital.

"It's been coming for years, but you just don't expect it. Superman just doesn't die, right?" Rundel said.

Immortalized in the Washington's Smithsonian Institution as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones before he retired in 1980.

Though Knievel dropped off the pop culture radar in the '80s, the image of the high-flying motorcyclist clad in patriotic, star-studded colors was never erased from public consciousness. He always had fans and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

His death came just two days after it was announced that he and rapper Kanye West had settled a federal lawsuit over the use of Knievel's trademarked image in a popular West music video.

Knievel made a good living selling his autographs and endorsing products. Thousands came to Butte, Mont., every year as his legend was celebrated during the "Evel Knievel Days" festival, which Rundel organizes.

"They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives," Knievel said. "People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner."

For the tall, thin daredevil, the limelight was always comfortable, the gab glib. To Knievel, there always were mountains to climb, feats to conquer.

"No king or prince has lived a better life," he said in a May 2006 interview with The Associated Press. "You're looking at a guy who's really done it all. And there are things I wish I had done better, not only for me but for the ones I loved."

He had a knack for outrageous yarns: "Made $60 million, spent 61. ...Lost $250,000 at blackjack once. ... Had $3 million in the bank, though."
He began his daredevil career in 1965 when he formed a troupe called Evel Knievel's Motorcycle Daredevils, a touring show in which he performed stunts such as riding through fire walls, jumping over live rattlesnakes and mountain lions and being towed at 200 mph behind dragster race cars.

In 1966 he began touring alone, barnstorming the West and doing everything from driving the trucks, erecting the ramps and promoting the shows. In the beginning he charged $500 for a jump over two cars parked between ramps.

He steadily increased the length of the jumps until, on New Year's Day 1968, he was nearly killed when he jumped 151 feet across the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace. He cleared the fountains but the crash landing put him in the hospital in a coma for a month.

His son, Robbie, successfully completed the same jump in April 1989.
In the years after the Caesar's crash, the fee for Evel's performances increased to $1 million for his jump over 13 buses at Wembley Stadium in London the crash landing broke his pelvis to more than $6 million for the Sept. 8, 1974, attempt to clear the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a rocket-powered "Skycycle." The money came from ticket sales, paid sponsors and ABC's "Wide World of Sports."

The parachute malfunctioned and deployed after takeoff. Strong winds blew the cycle into the canyon, landing him close to the swirling river below.

On Oct. 25, 1975, he jumped 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island in Ohio.

Knievel decided to retire after a jump in the winter of 1976 in which he was again seriously injured. He suffered a concussion and broke both arms in an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in the Chicago Amphitheater. He continued to do smaller exhibitions around the country with his son, Robbie.

Many of his records have been broken by daredevil motorcyclist Bubba Blackwell.

Knievel also dabbled in movies and TV, starring as himself in "Viva Knievel" and with Lindsay Wagner in an episode of the 1980s TV series "Bionic Woman." George Hamilton and Sam Elliott each played Knievel in movies about his life.

Evel Knievel toys accounted for more than $300 million in sales for Ideal and other companies in the 1970s and '80s.

Born Robert Craig Knievel in the copper mining town of Butte on Oct. 17, 1938, Knievel was raised by his grandparents. He traced his career choice back to the time he saw Joey Chitwood's Auto Daredevil Show at age 8.

Outstanding in track and field, ski jumping and ice hockey at Butte High School, he went on to win the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men's ski jumping championship in 1957 and played with the Charlotte Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League in 1959.

He also formed the Butte Bombers semiprofessional hockey team, acting as owner, manager, coach and player.

Knievel also worked in the Montana copper mines, served in the Army, ran his own hunting guide service, sold insurance and ran Honda motorcycle dealerships. As a motorcycle dealer, he drummed up business by offering $100 off the price of a motorcycle to customers who could beat him at arm wrestling.

At various times and in different interviews, Knievel claimed to have been a swindler, a card thief, a safe cracker, a holdup man.

Evel Knievel married hometown girlfriend, Linda Joan Bork, in 1959. They separated in the early 1990s. They had four children, Kelly, Robbie, Tracey and Alicia.

Robbie Knievel followed in his father's footsteps as a daredevil, jumping a moving locomotive in a 200-foot, ramp-to-ramp motorcycle stunt on live television in 2000. He also jumped a 200-foot-wide chasm of the Grand Canyon.

Knievel lived with his longtime partner, Krystal Kennedy-Knievel, splitting his time between their Clearwater condo and Butte. They married in 1999 and divorced a few years later but remained together. Knievel had 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:20 pm

You know when certain people die, you hear this really campy way of people saying their dead based on what they were known for.

Lilke some braniac will say, "Evil Knievel takes his last jump... into the great beyond."

Of course the jokes will get lamer on shows like Saturday Night Live. Such as, when the inventer of bubble gum died, they said his body was found underneat a movie theater seat. Come on now. If you're going to make fun of someone, at least make it funny.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:24 pm

Anyway, Evel was the man. He was so famous back in the day. I mean, it was before my day, I'm a child of the 80's and 90's, but I still knew exactly who the dude was.

His toys sold $300 mill, can you imagine? Triple that to figure out what it would mean in todays dollars.

All these X-Games and other bullshit, Evel was the original gangsta.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:15 pm

What a blast from the past. I grew up watching EK jumping various things and crashing. Guy either had huge cahones or was completely nuts, I was never sure! My brothers all had motorcycles in the 70's, it was VERY cool to try and be Evel Knievel.
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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:25 pm

Evel single handidly almost bankrupt every insurance company in the country as kids ate shit while trying to copy him.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:45 pm

I got an Evil K motorcyle for my birthday, lets say around 1975.

You wound up this handle thing on the base, and hit a lever, and the cycle would cruise off the base and power itself for quite a ways. I used to jump ramps made out of books and stuff with it.

Good times.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:09 pm

Whidden wrote:
I got an Evil K motorcycle for my birthday, lets say around 1975.

You wound up this handle thing on the base, and hit a lever, and the cycle would cruise off the base and power itself for quite a ways. I used to jump ramps made out of books and stuff with it.

Good times.

I had one of those, so did my neighbor, we used to race em. I also had the jet car version, along with various posters, models ,and lunchboxes. To summarize, I was a huge fan.

My sister used to annoy me to no end by putting Evel Keneivel in bed with Barbie , but thats another story
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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:12 pm

I don't remember the exact year of that birthday, but the Love Boat was on, and the kids and family was teasing me that I was in love with the ulgy little girl on the Love Boat, forget her name,

but I was in love with Julie, the Love Boat flight attendant, whatever the hell her title was,

so I open up the Evil K Bike, and all of a sudden, this room of mean ***holes turn into my best buddies.

That was one cool bike, you wound that sucker up, set up some book ramps, and BOOM, he went a flying.

Them was good times indeed.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:15 pm

Check it, I found a pic of one online, this dude is a little old to be playing with the thing, but whatever.


Mine had a cape on him, I remember him as way cooler. I guess he was just a cheap doll on a bike, but you get the idea from the pic was the set up was like.

Yours was the same thing Ron?



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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:17 pm

I like how the number on his bike was '1' all red, white and blue. Just like the USA!

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:19 pm

I think we should judge countries on who has the best cycle daredevils.

Austraila and these other chump countries can't compete with that. No how, no way.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:44 pm

Ron said that was him, but it took him a moment. He was too used to seeing Evel with that strumpet Barbie on his arm.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:13 am

I tell ya, the memory plays tricks. I remember a tricked out bike, made of pure metal and a cool paint job and it just being the most awesome thing.

That pic shows it as a cheapo plastic, and the doll is just crazy cheap.

Amazing how a kid sees things and remembers them. I'm starting to think that being a kid was almost like being drunk, you just lose all sense of reality and the world looks new and pretty.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:20 pm

The Evel Kenievel motorcycle and rocket bike were the best kid toys of my era. Sometimes a toy looks kool on the commercial, but after playing with it a couple of times it sits around collecting dust. Not Evel. If you had one, it was the one you played with all year, and it didnt break.
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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:42 pm

You can buy them again, a company is making them new from the old molds, it's the same toy, just new. Still, they want like 60 bucks for it, that sounds a might bit high to me.

But maybe Daman can get one, and let you play with it? If I had kids, I'd get them one, but I would look for it on sale.

http://misternostalgia.zoovy.com/product/EVELKNIEVEL?meta=FRG

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:46 pm

It's 40 bucks at Sears, but all these sites say they are out of stock. So I don't think they are really for sale anymore, which is a bummer. I'd float 40 bucks for it.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_05280245000P?vName=Toys+%26+Games&cName=Action+Figures+%26+Accessories&sName=More+Action+Figures+%26+Accessories

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:48 pm

And it's 40 buck elsewhere, but out of stock too. I tell ya, I have talked myself into it, when they get back in stock someday, I'm getting this sucker.

http://www.etoys.com/genProduct.html/PID/4711044/ctid/17?cpncode=10-57525874-2&srccode=cii_13736960

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:49 pm

I put myself on the email list for when it comes back in stock.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:56 pm

I like how the box exclaims "Over 40 Pieces!" like it's really something people look for in their toys.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:02 pm

Yeah, something like "will jump 40 foot chasms with 3 twists of the roto wheel!" would sell me quicker.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:18 pm

Read online that Evel hit some dude with a baseball bat back in the day and went to jail. I guess this guy sued at the time, got the judgement but never received any cash. Now he's going after Evel's estate.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:27 pm

I saw a Bio, and even after he went to jail, he escaped to go and baseball bat the dude again. But he got scared and went back, and got 6 more months in the clink.


The Bio I saw, he told the interviewer that he had a right to kick anyone ass that wrote something bad about him.

Dude was nutz, that's fer sure. But it was a good time, happy pappy kind of nutz.

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PostSubject: Re: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69   Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:48 pm

Bash your head enough times you start to go a little nuts, I'd imagine. Fine line between being a daredevil and having a death wish.

The story said that the incident effectively marked his career going downhill.

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