WHO REMEMBERS THIS LAST GREAT GLADIATOR EVIL KNIEVEL?
Evel Knievel (/ˈiːvəl kɨˈniːvəl/; October 17, 1938 – November 30, 2007), 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 433 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. According to the British paper The Times writing his obituary, Knievel was one of the greatest American icons of the 1970s. Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Knievel was born in Butte, Montana in 1938 and raised by his grandparents. After watching a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show as a child, he took to jumping using a pedal bike, later moving on to motorcycles. As a troubled youth, he earned his stagename after occupying a jail cell next to a man named Knofel, leading the jailer to refer to the pair as Awful Knofel and Evil Knievel (Knievel later changed the spelling of the first name to Evel). In addition to stunt riding at local shows, his early life including a spell in the United States Army at the behest of a magistrate, as well as jobs as a hunting guide, an insurance salesman, while also becoming an ice-hockey team owner. Knievel notably staged an exhibition match against the Czechoslovakian hockey team ahead of the 1960 Winter Olympics. After moving into sports full time, he had moderate success on the motocross circuit.
Knievel moved into the entertainment business in 1966 by setting up his own daredevil show, initially using a variety of performers and touring several US states, and later converting it to a solo show focused entirely on his jumps as the center-piece. He came to national attention when he persuaded the owners of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to let him jump their fountain on New Year's Eve 1967, which was filmed for ABC. After a failed landing, he spent 29 days in a coma. On his recovery, he continued to make high profile and lucrative jumps, and began lobbying the government for permission to jump the Grand Canyon. When this failed, he settled on the Snake River jump in Twin Falls, Idaho. Knievel attempted to jump it on September 8, 1974 in the X-2 Skycycle. The arresting parachute deployed immediately after launch, and the vehicle floated down on the near side, crashing just a few feet away from the river's edge. Knievel suffered minor injuries and avoided drowning, as he might have had he fallen into the water, since a jumpsuit/harness malfunction kept him strapped in the vehicle. Knievel then traveled to Britain, and on May 26, 1975, attempted to jump 13 buses in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, again crashing but with severe injuries. His longest completed career jump came at Kings Island theme park in Ohio on October 25, 1975, jumping 14 buses, marking his peak television audience.
In 1977, Knievel served six months in jail for assaulting his Snake River promoter Shelly Saltman for writing an unflattering book. After this conviction, Knievel's career suffered, causing him to declare bankruptcy following a $13 million award for damages to Saltman. Subsequently, Knievel eventually withdrew from doing major shows after cancelling an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in Chicago after injuring a cameraman during a practice jump. He instead concentrated on touring with and training his son Robbie Knievel, also a daredevil, eventually making his last jump in March 1981.
See Votes by State