Ever since I was a kid I thought it was cool sharing a last name with Hal Needham! I have no idea whether we’re related by blood or not, but it’s not a common last name so…maybe?
I first saw his last name on movie screens when I saw Smokey and the Bandit movies (for which he was director) and also for the spoof movie The Villain (which he also directed, this movie was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first movies).
But before Hal Needham was directing movies such as those in addition to the Cannonball Run movies, he was a professional bad-ass – aka a stunt double. He got his start by being a paratrooper during the Korean War, then managed to get his “break” a in stunt work. One of his most epic stunts was jumping from a ledge 30 feet high onto a moving stagecoach for the TV series Have Gun Will Travel. With no padding…Read more about his life and bad-assery here.
One more thing – he is the inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. RIP, “Uncle Hal!”