Friday, November 30, 2007


Daredevil Evel Knievel dies in Florida
Dec 1, 2007 11:12 AM
Daredevil Evel Knievel, who dodged death in spectacular motorcycle leaps and crashes in a life full of showmanship, has died at age 69, according to his lawyer and a message on his Web site.
"I just spoke with him last night. He seemed to be in good spirits," said Knievel's lawyer, Richard Fee, adding he died in the Tampa Bay area of Florida where he recently made his home.
The front page of the tempestuous showman's official Web site read simply "Robert Craig 'Evel' Knievel October 17, 1938 - November 30, 2007."
The site quickly became inaccessible as it presumably suffered a deluge of hits.
Knievel had been ill for some time, suffering from a lung disease.
He recently gave what he said "may be the last interview I ever do" to the December issue of Maxim magazine and battled rap singer Kanye West for infringing his trademark in the "Touch the Sky" video, in which West appears as "Evel Kanyevel" and wears a white jumpsuit like the one Knievel made famous.
The two reached a settlement on Tuesday.
In his heyday, the king of all daredevils dressed like a superhero in a red, white and blue leather jumpsuit with a cape and cane, his hair sculpted back in a tall pompadour.
Knievel's greatest stunt turned out to be a failure when on September 8, 1974, he tried to ride a rocket-powered motorcycle across the Snake River Canyon in Idaho.
With a nationwide pay-per-view television audience watching, the parachute deployed when his Skycycle X-2 was only about two-thirds across, sending the cycle into the canyon wall. It landed partly in the river but Knievel walked away with minor injuries.
In a typical stunt, Knievel would race up a ramp and soar over a dozen or more buses or cars parked side by side.
"Anybody can jump a motorcycle," he once told Esquire magazine. "The trouble begins when you try to land it."
Knievel broke more than 40 bones, including his back seven times. His final years were plagued by pain resulting from his numerous accidents, as well as pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs.
"God never made a tougher son of a bitch than me," Knievel told USA Today in an interview published in January 2007.
The reporter described Knievel, who was 68 at the time, as feeble and reliant on an oxygen tank and an implanted drug pump to relieve his pain.
His famous nickname came courtesy of a jailer who dubbed him "Evil Knievel" after run-ins with the police as a youth. To avoid being seen as a bad guy, Knievel later changed the spelling to "Evel" as his daredevil career took off.
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