Hal Needham, renowned director of the “Smokey and the Bandit” trilogy and once the highest paid stuntman in Hollywood, has published a 320-page memoir of his career. To be released Feb. 9, “STUNTMAN!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life,” relates a highly successful and adventurous career. To read about part of Needham’s history as it was being made, read about the filming of “Smokey and the Bandit,” on OverdriveRetro, and truckers’ parts in it.
Some of Needham’s most interesting memories concerning the Smokey movies include anecdotes of his friendship with Burt Reynolds, his memories of working with Jackie Gleason, whose lines as the sheriff in “Smokey and the Bandit” were nearly all improvised, and the success that Jerry Reed had with the movie’s renowned theme song.
Other of Needham’s escapades deserve close attention in his book. Not many people,after all, have hung upside down by their ankles under a biplane or “taught John Wayne how to really throw a movie punch,” as Needham says.
The book, “Stuntman,” is published by Little, Brown and Company’s Hachette Book Group and is $25.99 in hard cover, which you can read more about here.