For someone who attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps and performed several hair-raising stunts in his career, Evel Knievel was the definition of a daredevil.
The death-defying adventurer who was popular for his series of spectacular airborne stunts in the 1960s and ’70s that brought him worldwide fame was an American stunt performer, painter and entertainer. Riding through fire walls, jumping over rattlesnakes, flying over Greyhound buses and a launch over the fountains in front of Caesar’s Palace in Vegas are just a few of his most popular stunts.
Before his death in 2007, Knievel broke a slew of bones, but never died as a result of his life-threatening stunts, or so it seemed.
Evel Knievel’s Bio, Wiki, Facts
The stuntman was born on October 17, 1938, in Butte, Montana. His parents, Robert and Ann got divorced in 1940 and decided to leave him behind. Subsequently, Knievel was raised by his grandparents. While he attended Butte High School, Knievel dropped out in his second year and took up jobs in the copper mines as a diamond drill operator. He also played hockey as a professional and had a brief stint with the United States Army in the late 1950s.
While he had a lot of things happening around him, Knievel’s love for motorcycles kept manifesting. He even got fired when he made the earth mover (which he was supposed to be working with) do a motorcycle-type wheelie and drove it into the city’s main power line, causing a general power outage for several hours. Apparently, he started doing motorcycle stunts as a teenager.
His passion for motorcycle stunts and the urgent need to provide for his family gave birth to a troupe called Evel Knievel’s Motorcycle Devils. When Knievel recalled the Joie Chitwood show which he watched as a boy, he made up his mind to do something similar with a motorcycle. Singlehandedly, he promoted the show, rented the venue, wrote the press releases, sold tickets and put up a good show with a few wheelies. During the show, he jumped over a twenty-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions and made a safe landing despite hitting the box containing the rattlesnakes with his back wheel.
Fame At Last
With his low-key debut which was a success, Knievel decided to take things to the next level. Thus, he went in search of a sponsor and found one in Bob Blair, owner of ZDS Motors Inc., the West Coast distributor for Berliner Motor Corporation and a distributor for Norton Motorcycles. While Blair offered to provide the needed motorcycles for Knievel and his team’s performances, he had one condition. He opted for the name – Evil Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils. Nevertheless, Knievel managed to convince him to exchange Evil with Evel in order not to portray an evil image to the world.
The team debuted on January 3, 1966, at the National Date Festival in Indio, California. A massive success, the show paved the way for more popularity for Knievel and his daredevils. However, the show broke up because injuries prevented Knievel from performing for a while. The injuries didn’t deter him for long as he went solo after recovery. He also went from jumping animals to jumping cars.
His most famous act was that of New Year’s Eve 1967 when he nearly died after jumping the fountains in front of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He crash-landed in his longest attempted motorcycle jump at 141 feet (43 m), allegedly putting him in the hospital in a coma for 29 days.
Broken Bones, Milestones and Evel Knievel’s Net Worth
Throughout his famed daredevil motorcyclist career, Knievel suffered more than 433 bone fractures, several traumas and had to receive blood transfusions a lot due to his bone-crushing accidents. Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999. He was also added to the Guinness Book of World Records for totalling the most broken bones in a lifetime.
He had a net worth of $3 million after establishing himself as a true international icon with his motorcycle jumps which he performs clad in his signature white, red and blue jumpsuits.
Evel Knievel’s Family – Son, Wife
Knievel was the first of two children born to Robert E. and Ann Marie Keough Knievel. His father was originally from Germany while his mother was of Irish ancestry. He married Linda Joan Bork, in 1959 but they separated in the early 1990s after four children; Kelly, Robbie, Tracey and Alicia. Afterwards, Knievel married his longtime partner, Krystal Kennedy in 1999. They divorced in 2001 but remained together.
His son Robbie followed in his footsteps and has also made a name as a daredevil, a career he started from a very young age. Knievel managed Robbie’s stunt career after his retirement from stunt performance.
With countless daredevil stunts under his belt, it’s safe to think that Knievel died young from one of his eye-popping crashes. Notwithstanding, he died on November 30, 2007, at the age of 69. He succumbed to years of battling diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The famed stuntman was laid to rest at the Mountain View Cemetery in Butte, Montana.