Evel Knievel – United States
Robert Craig Knievel was born October 17, 1938 in Butte, Montana. He became the world's most famous motorcycle daredevil and has inspired countless of other motorcycle jumpers to follow in his foot steps.
In 1965, he began his daredevil career in a traveling show called, "Evel Knievel's Motorcycle Daredevils". In 1966, he left the group to pursue a solo career. One of his first big jumps was in Gardena, California over 16 cars at Scot Speedway. This jump was the first of many to be covered by ABC's "Wide World of Sports".
It wasn't until December 31, 1967 that Evel became a household name. He attempted to jump his Triumph over the fountain pool at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He cleared the water, but had one of the worst motorcycle crashes every caught on tape. After that horrible incident, his career literally skyrocketed.
1971 he set a new world record by jumping 19 cars at the Ontario Motorspeedway in Ontario, California.That year also was the year that the theatrical release of the movie, "Evel Knievel" starring George Hamilton hit the movie theaters influencing many young soon-to-be daredevils to enter the jumping world. Whenever Evel spoke, people listened. He was the master of showmanship and promotion. His toys became one of the most successful selling in the 1970's.
On August 20, 1974, Evel jumped 13 semi-trucks in Toronto, Ontario at Exhibition Stadium. This was his last big jump before his most famous stunt that followed that September.
On September 8, 1974, Evel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in what he called his "skycycle". He didn't make it across the 1/4 mile canyon because the parachute deployed. He survived on of his most dangerous stunts he ever tried. According to ABC's "Wide World of Sports", this was one of the so called "happenings" of the 1970's.
May 26, 1975 Evel traveled to London, England to jump 13 single-decker buses at Wembley Stadium in front of a sold out crowd of 90,000 people. Evel didn't have enough speed when he hit the takeoff ramp and landed on the last bus which sent him crashing onto the grounds of Wembley. At this jump Evel vowed he would never jump again. Of course, he couldn't quit.
October 25, 1975 Evel was back state side trying to jump 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island Amusement Park in Ohio. He landed on the 14th bus, but held on. The frame of the bike actually cracked on this jump. This was his last big jump attempt he tried.
In 1977, he starred as himself in the Warner Bros. movie, "Viva Knievel". It was a star studded cast including, Leslie Neilsen, Red Buttons, Gene Kelly and Lauren Hutton to name a few.
In 1979 he toured Australia as an emcee for a touring daredevil show featuring stunt performers from around the world. Eventually Evel made his last jump in 1981 in Hollywood, Florida. He continued for awhile helping Robbie promoting his jumps.
Evel received a new liver in early 1999 after contracting hepatitis C. Evel felt rejuvenated and made a comeback in the 2000s. This time instead of jumping, he toured all over the United States making appearances and signing autographs.
Many documentaries and books were written about him even a made for TV movie also called, "Evel Knievel" aired. Also a yearly festival called, "Evel Knievel Days" has been a hit in Butte Montana in honor of Evel. 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of this event.
Evel was diagnosed with the incurable disease pulmonary fibrosis. Evel's time here was short. He said he was prepared to accept that and would say that he has live a full life and enjoyed it all. He accepted Christ as his Savior on April 1, 2007. Evel passed away November 30, 2007 at his home in Florida. After all this years, Evel still is the "King of the Daredevils".