Evel Knievel


Born: 17 October 1938
Died: 30 November 2007
Birthplace: Butte, Montana
Best known as: The motorcyclist who tried to jump the Snake River Canyon

Name at birth: Robert Craig Knievel

Evel Knievel brought the spirit of P.T. Barnum to daredevil motorcycle jumps in the 1970s. Dressed in his signature red, white and blue jumpsuit, Knievel would race his motorcycle up steep ramps and over obstacles, including the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas (in 1968) and a row of 13 double-decker buses at London's Wembley Stadium (in 1975). Often he crash-landed, thrilling viewers while breaking dozens of bones. His most famous stunt was an attempted jump over Idaho's Snake River Canyon in a rocket-powered "motorcycle" on 8 September 1974. The attempt failed when the craft's parachute opened prematurely, but Evel Knievel survived. He retired in 1981; his son Robbie Knievel succeeded him as the family motorcycle daredevil. Evel Knievel received a liver transplant in 1999, due to hepatitis C presumably contracted through blood transfusions after his many crashes. He was in poor health in his last years, thanks to a combination of hepatitis, pulmonary fibrosis, diabetes and the remnants of his daredevil injuries, and he died in 2007.

Extra credit: George Hamilton portrayed Evel Knievel in the 1971 movie biography Evel Knievel... George Eads played Knievel in the 2004 TV movie Evel Knievel... Evel Knievel played himself in the 1977 film Viva Knievel.

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