Gene LeBell

Stuntman


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-half hour Archive interview, Gene LeBell talks about his childhood interest in judo and boxing that eventually led to his career as a stuntman in movies and television. He speaks about his early work in television on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Lassie (in which he fought a bear), and The Jack Benny Show. He also discusses his work on action series of the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond, including The Green Hornet, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Baretta, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Dukes of Hazzard. LeBell outlines the craft of stunt work including descriptions of falls, fire stunts, and stunt driving. Among the television series LeBell details are: The Adventures of Superman (in which he worked closely with George Reeves), Batman, and The Fall Guy. Karen Herman conducted the interview on September 10, 2003 in Sherman Oaks, CA. 

"The person who enjoys the work never goes to work."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Gene LeBell on a stunt he did on The Adventures and Ozzie and Harriet, and Ozzie Nelson's interest in safety
Gene LeBell on an incident during a Dukes of Hazzard shoot, in an episode where he played a villain
Gene LeBell on stunt work on The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee
Gene LeBell on stunts he won't do and stunts he'd like to do
Gene LeBell on essential qualities for a stuntperson
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his mother being a boxing promoter; on boxing during his youth; on his autobiography "The Toughest Man In The World"
On boxing and wrestling matches at the Olympic Auditorium run by his mother; on his childhood aspirations and studying animal husbandry
On getting drafted during the Korean War and joining The Coast Guard; on competing in the 1954 Judo Nationals

Chapter 2

On being stationed in Long Beach and becoming a cook; on sneaking out of the Coast Guard to be Gorgeous George's second in a match
On toying with a professional wrestling career; on winning the 1955 Judo Nationals; on what drew him to judo
On his early memories of television; on early televised wrestling and boxing matches
On how he got into stunt work

Chapter 3

On enjoying his time at home; on a stunt he did on The Adventures and Ozzie and Harriet, and Ozzie Nelson's interest in safety
On fighting a bear on an episode of Lassie (in which he got hurt); on the lack of early safety regulations for stunt people
On his specialty in stunts; on still getting calls for work; on early stunts he was asked to do
On his stunt work on the television and film versions of Batman; on loving his work
On tips for stunt wotk; on teaching judo; on stunt bags and supplies

Chapter 4

On his stunt work for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
On how blue and green screens have changed the stunt profession; on stunt work on The Beverly Hillbillies and The Jack Benny Program; on contemplating being an actor
On an incident during a Dukes of Hazzard shoot, in an episode where he played a villain; on stunt work on Burke's Law, The Munsters, and The Wackiest Ship in the Army
On doubling for certain actors again and again; on his fellow stuntmen and their talents
On stuntwomen and men doubling for women

Chapter 5

On doing stunts for black actors; on stunt work on The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee
On his experiences doing public appearances with Adventures of Superman star George Reeves, and his doubt that Reeves committed suicide (as was officially determined)
On failing to win a bit part on Little House on the Prairie because it required "acting," yet having to train the actor who got the part to do the stuntwork
On coordinating stunts; on stunt work on I Spy, The Six Million Dollar Man, Starsky and Hutch, Baretta, Laverne & Shirley, and Fantasy Island

Chapter 6

On stunt work on Taxi, usually as a referee during one of Tony Danza's boxing matches
On working with stunt coordinator Mickey Gilbert on The Fall Guy
On stunt work on Magnum, P.I., Macgyver, and Married...With Children; on his success
On different types of stunts - high falls, stunt driving, pratfalls, stair falls and fistfights

Chapter 7

On how he prepares for fistfight stunts; on fire stunts
On stunts he won't do and stunts he'd like to do; on injuries from stunt work
On insurance issues for stuntmen; on films he's done stunt work for; on essential qualities for a stuntperson; on how he's credited
Shows

Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet, The

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Gene LeBell on a stunt he did on The Adventures and Ozzie and Harriet, and Ozzie Nelson's interest in safety

Adventures of Superman

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Gene LeBell on his experiences doing public appearances with Adventures of Superman star George Reeves, and his doubt that Reeves committed suicide (as was officially determined)

Baretta

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Baretta and working with Robert Blake

Batman

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Gene LeBell on his stunt work on the television and film versions of Batman
Gene LeBell on working with guest stars like Frank Gorshin ("The Riddler") on Batman

Beverly Hillbillies, The

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Gene LeBell on his stunt work for The Beverly Hillbillies

Burke's Law

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Gene LeBell on stunt work with Gene Barry on Burke's Law

Charlie's Angels

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Charlie's Angels

Dukes of Hazzard, The

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Gene LeBell on an incident during a Dukes of Hazzard shoot, in an episode where he played a villain

Fall Guy, The

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Gene LeBell on working with stunt coordinator Mickey Gilbert on The Fall Guy

Fantasy Island

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Fantasy Island

Green Hornet, The

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee

I Spy

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on I Spy and working with Robert Culp

Jack Benny Program, The

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Gene LeBell on a stunt/dialogue scene he did on The Jack Benny Program with Count Billy Varga in 1962, and his experience working with Benny

Lassie

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Gene LeBell on fighting a bear on an episode of Lassie (in which he got hurt)

Laverne & Shirley

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Laverne & Shirley

Little House on the Prairie

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Gene LeBell on failing to win a bit part on Little House on the Prairie because it required "acting," yet having to train the actor who got the part to do the stuntwork

MacGyver

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on MacGyver

Magnum, P. I.

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Gene LeBell on stunt work with Magnum P.I. lead Tom Selleck 

Married… With Children

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Married... With Children

Munsters, The

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Gene LeBell on stunt work with Fred Gwynne on The Munsters

Six Million Dollar Man, The

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on The Six Million Dollar Man and working with Lee Majors

Starsky and Hutch

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Starsky and Hutch

Taxi

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Taxi, usually as a referee during one of Tony Danza's boxing matches

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

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Gene LeBell on the stunt work done for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Wackiest Ship in the Army, The

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Gene LeBell on stunt work doubling Jack Warden on The Wackiest Ship in the Army

Wagon Train

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Gene LeBell on how he and George Reeves would have been cast on Wagon Train had Reeves lived
Topics

Diversity in Television

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Gene LeBell on doing stunts for black actors

Historic Events and Social Change

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Gene LeBell on getting drafted during the Korean War and joining The Coast Guard
Gene LeBell on doing stunts for black actors

Korean War

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Gene LeBell on getting drafted during the Korean War and joining The Coast Guard

Minorities

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Gene LeBell on doing stunts for black actors

Technological Innovation

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Gene LeBell on how blue and green screens have changed the stunt profession

War

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Gene LeBell on getting drafted during the Korean War and joining The Coast Guard
Professions

Performers

View Profession
Gene LeBell on how he got into stunt work
Gene LeBell on the lack of early safety regulations for stunt people
Gene LeBell on his specialty in stunts and the background necessary for the profession
Gene LeBell on early stuntwomen and men doubling for women
Gene LeBell on coordinating stunts
Gene LeBell on different types of stunts - high falls, stunt driving, pratfalls, stair falls and fistfights
Gene LeBell on preparations for stunt fistfights and fire stunts
Gene LeBell on stunts he won't do and stunts he'd like to do
Gene LeBell on essential qualities for a stuntperson
Gene LeBell on how he's credited a stuntperson

Stunt Performer/Stunt Supervisor/Stunt Coordinator

View Profession
Gene LeBell on how he got into stunt work
Gene LeBell on the lack of early safety regulations for stunt people
Gene LeBell on his specialty in stunts and the background necessary for the profession
Gene LeBell on early stuntwomen and men doubling for women
Gene LeBell on coordinating stunts
Gene LeBell on different types of stunts - high falls, stunt driving, pratfalls, stair falls and fistfights
Gene LeBell on preparations for stunt fistfights and fire stunts
Gene LeBell on stunts he won't do and stunts he'd like to do
Gene LeBell on essential qualities for a stuntperson
Gene LeBell on how he's credited a stuntperson
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Gene LeBell on his stunt work on the television and film versions of Batman
Gene LeBell on his experiences doing public appearances with Adventures of Superman star George Reeves, and his doubt that Reeves committed suicide (as was officially determined)

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Gene LeBell on a stunt/dialogue scene he did on The Jack Benny Program with Count Billy Varga in 1962, and his experience working with Benny

Sports

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Gene LeBell on early televised wrestling and boxing matches
People

Muhammad Ali

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Gene LeBell on refereeing one of Muhammad Ali's fights

Gene Barry

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Gene LeBell on stunt work with Gene Barry on Burke's Law

Jack Benny

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Gene LeBell on a stunt/dialogue scene he did on The Jack Benny Program with Count Billy Varga in 1962, and his experience working with Benny

Robert Blake

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Baretta and working with Robert Blake

Robert Culp

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on I Spy and working with Robert Culp

James Garner

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Gene LeBell on working as James Garner's stunt-double

Gorgeous George

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Gene LeBell on his mother inventing the stage name "Gorgeous George"
Gene LeBell on sneaking out of the Coast Guard to be Gorgeous George's second in a match

Mickey Gilbert

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Gene LeBell on working with stunt coordinator Mickey Gilbert on The Fall Guy

Frank Gorshin

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Gene LeBell on working with guest stars like Frank Gorshin ("The Riddler") on  Batman

Fred Gwynne

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Gene LeBell on stunt work with Fred Gwynne on The Munsters

Bruce Lee

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee

Lee Majors

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on The Six Million Dollar Man and working with Lee Majors

Ozzie Nelson

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Gene LeBell on a stunt he did on The Adventures and Ozzie and Harriet, and Ozzie Nelson's interest in safety

George Reeves

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Gene LeBell on his experiences doing public appearances with Adventures of Superman star George Reeves, and his doubt that Reeves committed suicide (as was officially determined)

Ronnie Rondell, Jr.

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Gene LeBell on a stunt/dialogue scene he did on The Jack Benny Program with Count Billy Varga in 1962, and his experience working with Benny

Tom Selleck

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Gene LeBell on working with Magnum P.I. lead Tom Selleck 

O. J. Simpson

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Gene LeBell on working with O.J. Simpson

Herve Villechaize

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Gene LeBell on stunt work on Fantasy Island

Jack Warden

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Gene LeBell on stunt work doubling Jack Warden on The Wackiest Ship in the Army

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