The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on February 23, 1937 · Page 6
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 6

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, February 23, 1937
Page 6
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RLYTnEVTLLB. (ARK.) : COURFER TUESDAY. FEBRUARY 23, 1937 By Paul Harrison M OV * HOLLYWOOD OVIE slunl men arc a dying met.' in fad, more than n hundred ha\c died, violently, a| Ihcir trade. And newly deieloped liicKs ol photography, leave lillle (o be clone by l'ie lew . daredevils who remain. - •••.'••• So prelly soon theie Won't be any slunl men, Only hump men. There's a big difleience. "Bump man" is ihe lerm ordinarily applied lo a person who docs comedy falls, lake* bent- ings, and performs oilier doubling dulie:- which, i!iough they may noi be pleasant, are neilliet dl 1 . ficult nor hazardous. "Bump man" olso~U the leim applied by ti.iincd, competent slunleif lo a fool of an amalcur. It's the bump man. usually »n extra made reckless by his desperate need lor work, who ii haslening ihe extinction ol stunt men as a clasr. He|ll offer foi $25 lo do a Uick which no experienced stunt man, basing weighed the Hslu, would cc-.isi-ir tor less ['lab $250. The bump man may ball; al the last minute.' He may bungle ihe trick so thai il isn'l woilli footage in a picture. Or tie may try bravely, fail, and break his neck. Except lhal it's prelly messy and upsetting lo llie nerves ol Ihe resi ol the company, nobody really cares wbelhw he breaks his neck. The sludio in advance is «b<oi\ed ol all responsibility. A good source ol information about lliis rrvilrj —fc-tii a abwsl literally'a deadly rj- m Ross taw ari elephant trampl* the [fie out of Curly Steelier. Bob Ros.3, one of a waning tribe of Sin.t men, who. began taking falls at the age of .10. valty—is Uob Rose. Mr. Rose is llie dean ol all-is-md stunl men in Hollywood For 21 years he has hern riding horses ovci clifts, wrecking aulomohile;. clambering Itom plane to planr. and tumbling from the lops of sclmcm- «r masi.. r>OSE has seen plenly ol men die, bul he himself hasn'l eun hcen in a hospital. He has suflered some Timor mjiities, lint never through an error of his own. He is not pioud »l his courage, bill ol his skill. He resents ihe intrusion oi fo',lhardj bunglers into his crall. Mr. Rose: - ' *"It's hard lo »lace Ihe blame lot Ihis condition. bui generally il'j the studio production syslem dial's at fault. For instance, there was a cvlam picture with a sequence calling foi a very difficult jump by a horse and ridci. Tbc director asked for a stunt man and said il was ' about a $75 job. 1 said I'd do il. But the supervisor on Ihe P'ctmc, whose business it looking aflei tx- pen:«, said thai any good rider could do il, and that they'd only allow $25. --"Well, they tried for two. days to gel ihnl shot. The cnlite company slood around, idle. Watching one bump man after anothei tumble on his nose. Finally, when the delay in production had cost al leas! $5000, they called me in again. "I was prelty sore, because 1 had figure--! Jut how Ihe stunt could be done so it would look hesl lor the cameras. 1 said, 'Well, this job sterns to be so lough lhal my price is now »I50." They said all righl, anything to gel * done. So I did il. Did il on tile first try, ind took about 10 mmulcs." And iheic's anolhei thing, points out Rose: > trained slunt man does a job smoothly, quickly, and emerges without mussing his hair. Onlookers say, "Easy money—that's a cinch!" But when an inexpeit hump man does a similar trick and gets half killed, people say, "The poor guy sure earned his dough 1" COMETIMES, according to Rose, a bump •^ man hired foi a trick will refuse even to Utempl it when time comes for the cameras to Mm. Uncertainly ol performance has influ- •ced writers and directors It eliminate thiill tcenes from theit scripts. Rose eslimalts lhat two-lhirds of the fealure- ^ad« 15 jf«M •* Mied » Mching aclio*. Two typical Bob Rosa stums... . In a prison escape scene, Rosa took a bump on tha head with a rubber revolver, then fell 30 feet into a moving automobile. At right, he is shown diving into the water in a fall, with his horse, from n Mgh cliff. ' Today there ore* tcry-.-jw, ami most o! llicse leave thrill sequences lo Ihe Miniature rxperlj and 9pcc.inVsts in process shots. This males foi economy, if not lor icalisin. Stunt men aie a lillle piqued because audiences, Irainfd by now lo recognize faked lliTills, are not more outspokenly critical ol palpable fakes. . Typical lake: Background shot projection ;on translucent screen) ol ha mountain road.. Shot ol speeding automobile, sell] against background bul actually and safely within studio. Closeup ol screaming in terror. Miniature shot buttling over clill. Follow shot p[ crawling out of carefully prepared wrecka There aic now only eighl or ten qua stunt men in Hollywood. To Iry to name them all would invite controversy. Anyway, Ihey . include Rose, Frank Clark, ace slunl pilot, Yakima Cannull, Duke Grern, Gordon Cia- valh, and -Cliff Lyons. Many of the lamous ones arc gone, but Dick Grace is ,-ibout the only one who has gone ihe way o! hit own choosing. He is n writer now. He survived scores of airplane crackups and (init. uy/ li f il ;il til M > it.-ii \\ , • ri -if 'il | v . .' • : , Because hungry extras will do almost anything for a few dollars—even if it kills them, as it often does—the cagey tfibe of movie daredevils is dwindling and film thrills are losing their punch in the way. In "The Haunted Valley" ht was nearly burned to death because a bunp man, who was to swing him a rope, was drunk and bungled the job. In "The White Eagle" lie was lo ride a burning tower as it fell into the tea But Ihey couldn't pull the tower over,, and Rose had la dive out of the flames and o\fr the_edge of • cliff. jWhen He ]tjtnped*he couldrr'l eypn st«" whelher Ihete was water at the base"of trie cliff. There was, fortunately. In "Strike Me Pink," the latest Eddie Cantor comedy, one of Rose's simplest jlunts was' lo be lowered a con iderable distance on arrin- Msible dirplane cable while holding ah'open pirasol StupJ helpers let go of |jie;cable. (by zardo stationary, eroine ol h ot ol he age. alified OOSE watched Leo Nomis bury himself when his ship wouldn't come out of a spin. He saw Omar Locklcar, blinded by floodlights, crash before the cameias. He recalls ihc dealhs of Frank Mays and Major Campbell by faulty parachutes. He remembers Dick Cuiwood falling from a rope ladder dangling from a plane, and how Gene Peikins missed in a plane-train change because be had an inexperienced pilot. He saw an elephant trample tha life out ol Curly Sleeker. He wore the blood-stained cos- lurne in which Jack Silver had miscalculated a dive into water ftoni a tiain passing over a trestle. Rose dove al the right instant, and came up smiling. Rose always seems lo do things al ihe right instant. This is mostly duo lo training- training which bump men never have, and few people in the world can get. Rose has been taking falls tnd making split-second dcdsions from the lime he was 10. He was born in Louisville, Ky., and almost as early as that it was decided that Bob would be a jockey. He had,two hotsey uncles, a trainer and a breeder. He said, "t began tiding at 10, I found _lhat_one ol the firs! things a jockey must leam is how to take a fall. The oldc; guys imposed on me bccawe I WM A crack-up staged, for "TKe Air Circus," by Dick Grace, stunt man turned writer. ihc youngest one around the itables. I got the worst horses, and some of them threw me. Even in (hose days I was a falalisl." At ISJie thrown and disabled. \Vhen he finally rccovacd he was too heavy for racing. But he became a Irick rider with shows during his summer ncations from school. One summer he had a chance to ride a motorcycle in a carnival molordmme* Il was an c.isy trick, and he stayed with the show. CTAR of llie company was a man named 1 Mike who made hot-air balloon ascensions and parachute drops. R osc would lake a motorcycle and side car, ride to wherever Mike landed and bring him back to the fair grounds. One afternoon—it was at Dallas—Rose found him lying under one of ihe big elms by the river. Mike bad landed in ihe Irce, fallen oul and broken an ankle. He said, "Kid, I golla get somebody lo do my act." Rose said, "I'll <J 0 ;,.'• He asked all about the parachute tigging, and the balloon, and how to puil Ihc chute shrouds, and how lo curl up when he lit. He says 1 >C wasn't afraid when he made his first jump. Rose came to Hollywood. He wanted to be a director, but there was a demand for slunt men. He worked wilh Eddie Polo, the serial star. He hired Dick Grace lo fly for him, and began wing walking, plane changing and ' parachuk jumping. For four and a htlf years he doubled i» all the dangerous sluntj done by Riilh Roland, &t « r i a j qu« n . R ose j s a sma |] raan, and At deception wn jasy. Tussling witli a tiger was almos-t a routine job for the late "Curly" Sleeker, one of the ablest of stunt men. There's nothing daredcvilish about his appearance. Liquid brown eyes, a sensitive mouth, small hands, no scars on his face, no gray in his hair. "No, 1 don't worry," he said. "I've never lost any sleep thinking about a job. If I were afraid of a job I wouldn't do it for any money." Rose has made one concession lo ihe incalculable risks of his profession: he has never married. No company will insure his life. For • a. stunt man, the responsibility of a wife and family is a serious menial hazard. One of Rose's friends undertook a slunl without sufficient safeguards in order lo get money for a tvife who was in a hospital, A week lalct be woke up in the same hospital, a hopeless cripple. Rosc has no superstitions and says be never lias refused a job. He drinks a little wine at . home, smokes cigarels, takes no special exercise. "My life depends on my nervous energy and my reflexes," he said. "I relax instead ol training." TTE doesn't like lo trust his neclt to olher peo- - 1 - 1 pie. In a Ruth Roland picture he broke two ribs diving Inm a stagecoach, but the horsci y,-«» ternsd by an aclor who had blundered Hose dropped like a plummet and brok» sn ankle. Rose isn't sure which of his jobs w<-,s toughest. Perhaps the one when he jumped horn a plane and had his parachute caught by 9 hook suspended from another plane. Then he wu to climb up his own parachute, and the rope, and get into Ihe second ship. He leaped with two 'chutes—Ihe second one for use in case the hook- ripped Ihe lop from his opened 'chute. Il didn't, though. Rose began to climb. Rope shrouds and billowing silk are nolbing much to.gul a handhold on. He was spinning like a leaf. 1 here were two choices—abandon th» stunt and float down under llie second paiaehule, oi throw it oi and trust lo being able lo finish the climb without itj extra weight. Rosc dropped ihe reserve 'chute. After what seemed like hours lo the anxious pilot, ihc stunlei inched up 'the flapping fabric to the book, then up the rope to ihe plane's landing gear. Rose's next job is a long one—being ,'cchai- cal director wilh trie Gpldwyn expedition which will film part of "Hurticane" in lite SotrA Seas. Rose is tickled wilh Ihe chance beca'*~ he alwayr, iris v«nted lo lis a director. •f m

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