Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lenny Kravitz 'Mama Said'

The only thing that surprised me about Evel Knievel’s death was his age. I ventured a guess of 78 and he was only 69. I guess breaking just about every bone in your body will age you beyond your years. The last time I saw Evel on television… He looked like a skinny Q-Tip equipped with an oxygen tank that possessed a very bad tan. He didn’t look good.

When I was a kid back in the 1970’s… Evel Knievel was jumping his motorcycle over just about every Mack Truck or Greyhound bus on the planet. And he usually did it on ABC’s Wide World Of Sports to inspire America’s children to break arms, legs, and skulls. If you were a kid and you had a bicycle back then… You were jumping something and tearing up your Toughskins along with your own epidermis.

I remember watching Evel jump Snake River Canyon in Idaho. The event had already happened on closed circuit TV for paying viewers around the world, but I had to wait until it was replayed on Wide World Of Sports. I knew the outcome, but I didn’t care. I wanted to see exactly what had happened. It was pretty disappointing.

I practically had all of the Evel Knievel toys when I was younger. Those things actually kept me from jumping by bicycle over Dad’s 1963 Chevy Corvair. Yeah… I thought about it. If it weren’t for those toys, I probably wouldn’t be here right now or at the very least… I would be talking very slowly from the brain damage.

I would jump my Stunt Cycle over all kinds of things. I had the transporter. I had the Stunt Car. I even had the Sky Cycle. Of course, the Sky Cycle was meant for jumps off houses and other high spots. My friends and I would spend HOURS winding up and releasing those toys every day. The Evel Knievel stuff was crazy! We would find new ways to tear them up and buy more. Kenner toys made a mint from those things! And what a genius plan it was.

Evel Knievel also made movies, but I only remember one… Viva Knievel starring Evel, Lauren Hutton, Gene Kelly, and Leslie Nielsen (from Airplane! and the Naked Gun films).

No… You can’t take anything seriously when Leslie Nielsen says it. Hell, you can’t take anything seriously in the film Viva Knievel. It is an unintentional bad film.

Here are some points of interests…

Evel sneaks into an orphanage during the wee hours of the night with a load of Stunt Cycles and his own action figures for all the kids. The kids wake up and start freaking out. A questions and answers session breaks out until one little boy gets out of his bed and starts making his way over to Evel. The little boy says something like this… “When I saw you get up and walk away from that crash…” He drops one of his crutches. “I knew that I could do it too…” The little boy drops his other crutch. “You’re the reason I’m walking, Evel. YOU’RE THE REASON!”

Oh, that’s funny stuff!

But it doesn’t stop there… No. Evel Knievel shows off his classy and suave ways with the ladies. When talking with Lauren Hutton’s character, he calls her “Miss” and she quickly corrects him with a “Ms”. Evel says, “So are you a woman, or a Ms.?”

During the film, Evel gives a speech about the dangers of drugs in front of a large crowd gathered before one of his jumps. He likens the drugs to Indy racers using Nitro in their cars. Neither are good… Blah, blah, blah… And one day, as Evel says… “You’ll blow all to hell.” One classic anti-drug speech.

One of my favorite lines in the film… Evel’s about to make a jump and his technician stops him and informs him that HE’S going to make the jump. Evel asks, “Have you been smoking something???”

The technician says, “Man! Maybe you oughta get high!”

Simply beautiful.

Viva Knievel is one of those films that is so funny… You should watch it with friends. The lines are hilarious all the way through… You just can’t take the film’s villain Leslie Nielsen seriously, especially when he commands a gunman to “Drop him! DROP HIM!!!” It just makes you bust out laughing.

If you like bad movies… Check it out. It’s a riot! If you don’t like bad movies, at least check it out for Evel’s Orphanage faith healing scene. It’s that funny.


  1. Anonymous12:57 PM


    Here are some "fun facts" that I have learned about Evel since his death on Friday.... thought you might enjoy learning just a bit more about this childhood "hero".

    A jailer in Montana was responsible for Knievel's nickname. As a youth, Knievel had several run-ins with police and the jailer dubbed him "Evil Knievel." In order not to be perceived as a bad guy, Knievel later changed the spelling to "Evel" as his daredevil career took off.

    Among Knievel's notable feats were clearing 19 cars in 1971, sailing over 13 Mack trucks in 1974 and jumping 13 double-decker buses in London in 1975, as well as a failed attempt to leap the Snake River Canyon in Idaho on a rocket-powered motorcycle in 1974.

    He had four children, ten grandchildren, and a grandchild.

    I find it very sad that an icon of our "pulp culture" has died.


  2. I thought the same thing when I saw he died. I assumed he was older. My brother had that wind up Evel Knievel cycle. We set it up in the hallway, stacked up books and various items for it to jump. I think E.K. was a big influence on how my brother drove his big wheel. Watching his specials on t.v. were a big time family event in our house.