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'Smokey and the Bandit' director Hal Needham dies, aged 82

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Filmmaker Hal Needham has died, aged 82.

The former stuntman was perhaps most famous for directing comedy films Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run.

He passed away in Los Angeles soon after being diagnosed with cancer, according to Variety.

Hal Needham

© Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Hal Needham



Needham was a prolific stuntman in the 1950s and has been credited with introducing new safety measures such as air bags to break falls.

The former paratrooper appeared in many TV shows and movies as a stuntman, including scenes in which he jumped from planes and crashed cars.

He was primarily known for appearances in westerns and doubled for John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Needham's directorial debut was 1977's Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds, who he frequently doubled for and became close friends with.

During his career he punctured a lung, had a shoulder replaced and broke 56 bones.

Needham won an Oscar for designing the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane. He was handed an honorary award this year, after which he described himself as the "luckiest man alive".



He has received a number of tributes on Twitter from Hollywood stars including Arnold Schwarzenegger.





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