Cool Actor of the Week – Evel Knievel

In Cool Actor of the Week by Scott3 Comments

Okay, I realize I’m pushing it by making Evel Knievel the Cool Actor of the Week, but dammit, I freakin’ love Viva Knievel! (1977), and Evel did a pretty kick-ass job of playing himself in that movie. Sure, maybe what he did wasn’t really a heck of a lot like acting, but he sure delivered the groceries — putting feminist reporter Lauren Hutton in her place, busting a drug-crazed Gene Kelly out of the psych ward, going toe-to-toe with Marjoe Gortner, and battling the sinister plot of drug lord Leslie Nielsen.

Sadly, aside from an uncredited appearance in 1974’s Freebie and the BeanViva Knievel! marked Evel’s one-and-only foray into acting before his career hit an obstacle he couldn’t jump, when he took a baseball bat to Shelly Saltman (Knievel’s own promoter for the Snake River Canyon jump), whose book Evel Knievel On Tour painted a pretty unflattering picture of the King of the Daredevils.

Directed by Gordon Douglas (Them!, In Like Flint and many other cool flicks), Viva Knievel! is a must-see. Check out Evel’s anti-drug speech in the clip below and tell me it ain’t all kinds of awesome. Knievel died November 30, 2007, and I think there are plenty of folks who will agree that a world without Evel Knievel is a much poorer place.

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