15 Historical Firsts in the World of Stunts

Is there a way to just make it look like you’re punching me?
15 Historical Firsts in the World of Stunts

Filmmakers have wanted to captivate audiences with spectacular feats since the dawn of filmmaking. Who knows if they actually called them “stunts” back then, but movies have displayed these risky feats as early as 1903. In the silent picture era, physicality was a must, so Hollywood’s first “stars” were comedic, vaudevillian performers or early action heroes who could ride horses, sword fight, and barroom brawl.

Even for the early 1900s, the stunts look pretty cool by today’s standards. Seriously, grab your iPhone and go film your buddy falling off a horse. We might be desensitized from everything we’ve seen since then, but your buddy could still break his neck, so maybe some technique should be involved. It’s a fine line between safety and “looking real,” so little by little, professional stunt performers have implemented techniques to get the shot, but come home at night (relatively unscathed.) Here’s a look back at 15 firsts in stunts that helped grow the industry.

Hollywood’s first comedy star was a stuntman.

Historical Firsts in The World of Stunts Charlie Chaplin 1914 Beginning in 1914, Chaplin became known as one of Hollywood's first stars, and had the second- ever million dollar contract. As a vaudevillian and slapstick comic, he did all of his own stunts. CRACKED

United Artists


Douglas Fairbanks brings in a pro.

Historical Firsts in The World of Stunts The first realistic 1920 sword fighting In 1920's The Mark of Zorro, Douglas Fairbanks brought in a fencing master, creating the first realistic on-screen swordplay. Prior to this, films had primitive whacking, but this opened doors for the countless swashbuckling films to come. CRACKED

United Artists


Buster Keaton

Historical Firsts in The World of Stunts The first quantum 1920s leap in danger Buster Keaton's hilarious and life-threatening stunts raised the bar. In 1928's Steamboat Bill, Jr. a two- ton house falls as he stands precisely in its open window, and in 1924's Sherlock, Jr. a gush of water breaks his neck! Let's not forget 1926's The General. CRACKED

United Artists


Bruce Lee & Jackie Chan in the 1970s

Historical Firsts in The World of Stunts The rise of martial arts 1970s in western cinema America's fascination with kung fu saw the first Asian leads in U.S movies. Bruce Lee had a formal approach, and Jackie Chan used (and still uses) a more comical Buster Keaton style. For action or comedy, their cinematic martial arts are still a gold standard. CRACKED

Warner Bros. International


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