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.
Frank Hanaway - 'The Great Train Robbery'
Edison Manufacturing Company
'The Count of Monte Cristo'
General Film Company
The Keystone Kops
Hollywood’s first comedy star was a stuntman.
Douglas Fairbanks brings in a pro.
Harold Lloyd - 'Safety Last!'
John Wayne and Yakima Canutt choreographed screen fighting.
The Godfather of modern day stunts.
From “Bump Men” to Stuntmen
RKO Radio Pictures
1958’s 'Thunder Road' introduced the car chase era.
1959’s 'Ben-Hur' was a quantum leap in action sequences.
The A.D. used to coordinate stunts.
Civil Rights and Women’s Lib in stunts!
Warner Bros. Pictures
Bruce Lee & Jackie Chan in the 1970s
Warner Bros. International