Yakima Canutt was a champion rodeo cowboy and legendary Hollywood stuntman. He was also an actor and second unit director. He was the premier stuntman in Hollywood who everyone respected.
He was in 48 silent Western movies. His voice didn’t carry over to the transition of sound and he became a stuntman and director.
Canutt redesigned stunts for safety and in 1966 he received an Oscar for “achievements as a stuntman and for developing safety devices to protect stuntmen everywhere.” His stunts ranged from horse falls and wagon wrecks to drops from stagecoaches and horse transfers. He pioneered stunt and screen fighting techniques with John Wayne. His most memorable action scenes are the chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959) (which he directed) and dropping from a stagecoach in Stagecoach (1939). He doubled for Clark Gable, Gene Autry, Errol Flynn and John Wayne.
Canutt was second director for many movies. Here are some of them: The Devil Horse (1926), Along the Navajo Trail (1945), Ivavhoe (1952), Old Yeller (1957), Spartacus (1960), and El Cid (1961).
Canutt retired at age 80.