Written by by R.R. Martin, CNN
Iconic movie stuntman Bob Bondurant has died at the age of 88.
He was a bobsledder for the U.S. speed-racing team and a car driver, helping to train stars such as Dean Martin, George Hamilton and Shirley Temple.
He began a “living legend” status by his association with the movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” He accompanied Michael Jackson to the UK when he was six-years-old and also showed up with Diana Ross to watch his younger sister, Diana Ross, perform.
According to his biography on California’s Motor-Slingback Motors website, he drove the Lola W9 LaFerrari supercar.
Bondurant died at his home in Silverado, California, after a two-year battle with melanoma.
He was the author of four books, including “Car Racing at Speed: Adventures in a 1950s Vehicle” and “Speed Rancher” about making deals with farmers in the ’70s.
Born in Burbank, California in 1928, he was a neighbor of screen legend Elizabeth Taylor when he was 12. A film crew was making a short film of her car race against a dirt car when a long-distance stunt driver offered to race her for a camera.
“By 12 we were a double act; he taught me how to drive and I taught him how to drive. We drove for a lot of years together,” he told the California newspaper the Modesto Bee in 2000.
“He drove in Vegas and Bill and I would start hopping cars. Before long we had Vegas’ cars, so I said, ‘That’s enough.’ He never did drink with me; he was too much of a straight man for that. I got to be his buddy when he had action movies, like ‘The Taking of Pelham 123.'”
Lewis McCallan, a movie stuntman who became Bondurant’s roadie in the early 1960s, said that he took after Bondurant in the execution of stunts.
“He never missed an opportunity to hit the button. The wires dangled at an angle, so one button was pushing the car and one was pulling the wires. If he didn’t hit it, then the stunt guys would have to redo the stunt, and he’d take a little less satisfaction in it.”