Claim to Fame
Director Cannonball Run
Salt and Pepper
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Hal Brett Needham
Hal Brett Needham (March 6, 1931 – October 25, 2013) was an American stuntman, film director, actor and writer. He is best known for his frequent collaborations with actor Burt Reynolds, usually in films involving fast cars, such as Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, The Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace.
Stunts, Actor/Actress, Director
Has Detailed Data (New)
Place of Death
Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
Edith May Robinson
Actor, Stuntman, Director, Writer
Wiki Bio Text
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 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, 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 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 and Jackie Gleason 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!
Hal Brett Needham (March 6, 1931 – October 25, 2013) was an American stuntman and film director. He is best known for his frequent collaborations with actor Burt Reynolds, usually in films involving fast cars, such as Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, The Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace.
Following Korean War service as a paratrooper, Hal Needham drifted into movies as a bit player. His remarkable physical dexterity and willingness to "take it" enabled him to rise up the professional ladder from stuntman to stunt coordinator to 2nd unit director. A longtime chum of Burt Reynolds (himself an ex-stuntman), Needham was given his first chance to direct a theatrical feature with Reynolds' Smokey and the Bandit (1977); the film was a huge hit, assuring Needham future assignments as both director and scriptwriter. The 1980 Reynolds vehicle Hooper was widely recognized as Reynolds and Needham's tribute to the entire fraternity of Hollywood stunters. For television, Needham directed several installments 1989 Burt Reynolds adventure series B. L. Stryker (1989) and the pilot for the syndicated adventure semi-weekly Bandit (1994); there was also a 1992 animated cartoon series titled Stunt Dawgs, wherein the central character was named Needham. Founder of the troubleshooting aggregation Stunts Unlimited (which also served as the title of a 1980 TV movie), Needham has also served as chairman for another movie-industry organization, Camera Platforms International. In addition, Hal Needham is owner of the "world's fastest car," the Budweiser Rocket, now on display at the Smithsonian Institute. Needham was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2012 for his innovations, just one year before he died at age 82.
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