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Hollywood stuntman, director Hal Needham dies at 82

Oct. 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Hal Needham, stuntman and director of "Smokey and the Bandit" died in Los Angeles, his family said. He was 82.

His family declined to give a cause of his death Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Needham's Hollywood career began doing television and film stunts, tumbling down cliffs, leaping off boulders, and jumping from planes and towers, the newspaper said.

Over the course of his stunt career, he broke 56 bones, including his back, twice.

He made the move in the 1970s into directing, standing behind the camera for "Smokey and the Bandit" and "The Cannonball Run," the Times said.

"I can go back and fall on my head any time," Needham said in 1979 of his new career in directing.

He won the Governor's Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 2012. The academy called Needham "an innovator, mentor and master technician who elevated his craft to an art and made the impossible look easy."

Needham's survivors were not reported.

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