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Listening to a Slate podcast this week on the life of Robert Craig ‘Evel’ Knievel, the author of Evel Knievel’s biography, Steve Mandich, told a great anecdote about the egomaniacal stunt man. Back when Evel was just starting out, around 1967 or so, he jumped over the fountains in front of the new Caesar’s Palace and slammed into the restraining wall. He was rushed to the hospital, where he lay in a coma for 37 days. Asked by a Sports Illustrated reporter in 2002 what it felt like to be in a coma for 37 days, Evel, with his typical bluster, shot back, “How the $#@!$ should I know! I was in a $%#@!#$% coma!”
It reminded me of the great scene in The Pursuit of DB Cooper, when an FBI agent gets locked in the trunk of a car by the infamous guy who parachuted out of a commercial airliner with suitcases of stolen cash. The agent’s partner comes running up the hill, unlocks the trunk, and asks his partner which way Cooper went. The partner replies, “Let me ask you something there Sacajawea, what kind of a view do you think I had from in there?”
Interestingly enough, Evel’s biographer claims that the daredevil was never actually in a coma. He was known to greatly exaggerate and even fabricate stories to add to his own myth and lore. In any event, I was a huge fan as an 8-year old and can vividly remember playing with the toy motorcycles and the Evel Knievel doll, and watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports on the days he was making a jump of one sort or another. He was, without a doubt, one of the great characters of the 70’s.
[tags]Evel Knievel, Robert Craig Knievel, Steve Mandich, Sports Illustrated, The Pursuit of DB Cooper, Great Lines From Movies, Daredevils, Stunt Man, People From the 70’s, Caesar’s Palace[/tags]