Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bud Ekins Has Made "The Great Escape" . . . Dead at 77!

One of my favorite movies. I searched high and low for The Great Escape last year.
Bud Ekins, a renowned off-road racer and stuntman who performed the famous motorcycle jump over barbed wire in the film "The Great Escape" and bounced a Mustang up and down the hills of San Francisco in "Bullitt," has died. He was 77. Ekins died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, family spokesman Paul Bloch said. Ekins, a friend and mentor of fellow biker
Steve McQueen, had a stunt career that lasted for 30 years, and appeared in dozens of movies, including "Diamonds Are Forever," "Earthquake" and "The Blues Brothers."

Born in 1930 to a working class family in Hollywood, Ekins fell in love with motorcycles at an early age and in the 1950s he was one of the first U.S. competitors in world-class motocross events in Europe. His friendship with McQueen grew out of their love of motorcycles. Ekins owned a Triumph dealership in the 1960s. McQueen hung out there and Ekins taught him about off-road racing. Ekins, his brother, David, and McQueen raced as a team in the 1964 International Six Day Trials in Germany, although McQueen crashed and Ekins broke his leg, Bloch said. Overall, Ekins won four gold medals and a silver medal at the international trials in the 1960s. Ekins got into stunt work when McQueen asked him to work on "The Great Escape" in 1962 in Germany. While McQueen did some of the motorcycle stunts, it was Ekins, uncredited, who doubled in the scene in which McQueen's prisoner-of-war character jumps a motorcycle over a barbed-wire fence. It is considered one of the most famous motorcycle movie stunts ever performed. Ekins later worked with McQueen in "The Cincinnati Kid" and "Bullitt,"
(The Essential Steve McQueen Collection (Bullitt Two-Disc Special Edition / The Getaway Deluxe Edition / The Cincinnati Kid / Papillon / Tom Horn / Never So Few)) where he performed much of the driving of McQueen's Mustang in that film's landmark chase in and around San Francisco, where he hit speeds of more than 110 mph. (AP/Courtesy of Susan Ekins)

Ekins' other credits (some anonymous) include the films "Bullitt," "Electra Glide in Blue," Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond Novels)," "Earthquake," "Race With the Devil," "National Lampoon's Animal House (Widescreen Double Secret Probation Edition)" and "The Blues Brothers (Collector's Edition)," and the TV series "Then Came Bronson." Ekins also appeared as bit player in several films, including "The Love Bug (Special Edition)" and "Pacific Heights." Ekins continued his stunt work into his 60s. He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999. Ekins also owned one of the best vintage motorcycle collections in the world, with 150 rare bikes, although in recent years he had trimmed it down. (Source)

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