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How Dangerous Were Evel Knievel’s Stunts?

Updated May 17, 2024
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Make no bones about it: Evel Knievel was a one-of-a-kind daredevil. During his relatively brief career, the man born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana, not only attempted dozens of sometimes crazy ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps, but also set a Guinness World Record of 433 broken bones along the way – though Knievel himself admitted that the exact number was likely exaggerated.

Repeatedly on the mend and coming up with even more dangerous ideas to entertain the public, Knievel finally had to call it quits in 1976 after trying to leap over a shark-filled tank at Chicago's International Amphitheatre. It wasn't his own injuries that prompted Knievel's departure from the spotlight, but the fact that a cameraman suffered an eye injury during the attempt. Knievel continued to do small shows at local venues, but the work was aimed at bolstering the follow-in-dad's-footsteps career of his son, Robbie.

Evel Knievel's wild ride:

  • Knievel allegedly pointed a gun at actor George Hamilton to ensure he was true to the motorcyclist's life in a 1971 movie.

  • For about seven years, Knievel was the top attraction on ABC's Wide World of Sports.

  • Knievel picked up his stage name while in jail, although he changed the original name "Evil" to "Evel" to sound less bad.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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