Dean Smith, Olympic sprinter turned Hollywood stuntman, dies at 91

Dean Smith, Olympic sprinter turned Hollywood stuntman, dies at 91

Dean Smith, who won a gold medal as a sprinter at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics before becoming a top-notch Hollywood stuntman who worked on a dozen films with John Wayne, has died. He was 91 years old.

Smith died Saturday at his home in Breckenridge, Texas, after a battle with cancer, his friend Rob Word has said. The Hollywood Reporter.

Smith, who got into the business with the help of James Garner, has appeared in seven Paul Newman films, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), The sting (1973) and Towering Hell (1974).

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The tough Texan, who liked to say that he could “ride, run and jump”, doubled for good friend Dale Robertson on the 1957-62 NBC series The Wells Fargo Talesthe 1964 movie Blood on the arrow and the 1966-68 ABC series Iron Horse.

He also did the dirty work for Ben Johnson Cheyenne autumn (1964) – one of four features he made with director John Ford – for George Hamilton in Eve Knievel (1971), for Robert Redford Jeremiah Johnson (1972) and for Roy Rogers, one of her childhood heroes, in a 1982 episode of ABC The fallen boy.

Smith was even outfitted at Max Factor in a red wig and white bustle to replace Wayne’s Maureen O’Hara in the film McLintock! (1963) when his character rolls out of a two-story building and lands on a hay wagon and then hangs on to the back of a moving carriage.

“The other stuntmen just teased me all over the place, saying I looked like I had nuts in my socks,” she told Word on a Episode 2014 of the web series A Word about westerns. “But still, I made more money McLintock! than any other stuntmen, so you can’t complain about that.

Born in Breckenridge on January 15, 1932, Smith spent his early years on his grandparents’ sprawling ranch and found inspiration from cowboy stars Rogers, Gene Autry and Monte Hale on the big screen every Saturday afternoon.

He played football and ran track at the University of Texas, and at the 1952 Summer Olympics, finished fourth in the 100m before managing a leg for the US 400m team that captured the gold. Then he went back to college and was on the Longhorns team that won the 1953 Cotton Bowl.

After serving 21 months in the United States Army while stationed in California, Smith briefly played with the Los Angeles Rams and was introduced by an Olympic teammate to Garner, who helped him get stunt jobs . It had its start The Wells Fargo Tales and in the 1958 films Quantrill’s Raiders, The Law and Jake Wade, Born reckless AND Aunt Mom.

“I wanted to be like Roy and Gene and all those guys,” she said. “(People told him), ‘Well, you have a degree, you could go into any other business,’ but I came to Hollywood.”

Fellow Helsinki gold medalist, decathlete Bob Mathias – who played himself in a 1954 biopic – introduced Wayne to him, and Smith would work with the Western cinema legend in Howard Hawks’ film Rio Bravo (1959) and The Alamo (1960), filmed at home in Texas.

Furthermore McLintock!they were also in together The Comancheros (1961), Ford How the West was won (1962), In danger (1965), The golden (1966), The war chariot (1967), Real courage (1969), Rio Lobo (1970), Great Jake (1971) and The train robbers (1973).

Smith later pulled stunts while playing famed frontiersman Kit Carson Seven alone (1974), and hung upside down from a mock airship 200 feet above the Orange Bowl in Miami for Black Sunday (1977).

(LR) Debbie Smith, Dean Smith, Anita LaCava and Rob Word at the opening of the John Wayne Experience in Fort Worth.

Dean Smith (in white hat) with (from left) his wife, Debbie Smith; John Wayne’s granddaughter, Anita LaCava; and “A Word on Westerns” host Rob Word.

Courtesy of Rod Word

His resume also included Ford’s Two rode together (1961), by Alfred Hitchcock Birds (1963), by Raul Walsh A distant trumpet (1964), by Robert Aldrich The raid of Ulzana (1972), by Blake Edwards The Great Race (1965) – took part in that film huge bar fight — Bob Fosse’s Sweet charity (1969), by Arthur Penn Little Big Man (1970), by Michael Crichton Western world (1973), by Steven Spielberg The Sugarland Express (1974) and by Sam Raimi The living and the dead (1995).

Smith, who returned to Texas in 1992, is a member of the Hollywood Stuntmen Hall of Fame and the Texas Rodeo Cowboys Hall of Fame. His memoir, Cowboy Stuntman: From Olympic Gold to the Big Screenwas published in 2013, with Garner providing the foreword.

Survivors include his wife, Debbie, and son, Finis.