Hal Needham, legendary stuntman who directed "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Cannonball Run", has passed away. Needham passed away on Friday, October 25 in Los Angeles at the age of 82. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he suffered from cancer prior to his death.
Arnold Schwarzenegger took to Twitter to mourn the death. "Hal Needham was a great stunt coordinator, director, and an icon. I'm still grateful he took a chance with me in 'The Villain'. I'll miss him," he wrote. Producer Gale Anne Hurd added, "RIP Hal Needham, legendary stuntman, stunt coordinator and director. Truly one of the greatest ever."
Needham was born in Memphis, Tenn., on March 6, 1931. In his early career in 1950s, Needham was a stunt double for Richard Boone on TV series "Have Gun, Will Travel" for 5 years. He later worked in movies such as "How the West Was Won", "Little Big Man", "Blazing Saddles", "Chinatown" and others.
Needham, who broke 56 bones including his back twice during his career, later wrote the screenplay of "Smokey and the Bandit". His friend Burt Reynolds offered a chance to direct the movie, starring Reynolds and Sally Field. In addition to "Bandit", Needham's directing credits include "Hooper" (1978), "Cannonball Run" (1981) and "Stroker Ace" (1983). He also worked with Schwarzenegger in 1982's "Megaforce" and 1986's "Rad".
Needham received a Governors Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 2012. During his acceptance speech, he told the audience, "You know, you're looking at the luckiest man alive. And lucky to be alive."