RIP Gary Kent… A Hollywood Legend…
Very sad news to report: the iconic Writer/ Producer/ Director/ Stuntman Gary Kent has died at the age of 89…
Gary Warner Kent was one of Hollywood’s most legendary Stuntmen, but he was much more than that…he was also a Director, Writer, Actor AND a large part of the inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood!”
Brad Pitt’s performance as Cliff Booth was modeled after Tom Laughlin’s portrayal of “Billy Jack” in the 1971 film of that name, but the character was inspired by two stuntmen: Hal Needham and Gary Kent.
FYI: along with being a great stunt man, Needham directed several films as well, including “The Cannonball Run ” with Burt Reynolds!
As for Kent, you should read his fascinating story, as he told it a rollicking tale of life in Hollywood!
Shadows & Light: Journeys With Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood
Kent shared all of the stories of his life in movies, and it’s 400+ pages that celebrate filmmaking!
Kent was born on a wheat ranch at Walla Walla, Washington, and attended my alma mater, the University of Washington in Seattle. Gary studied journalism, played football and pole-vaulted on the track team.
In l959 Kent moved to Hollywood, where over a 40-year period he worked with such luminaries as Jack Nicholson, Penny Marshall, Alan Arkin, James Caan, Bruce Willis and Garry Marshall.
Here’s Gary with a young Penny Marshall, one of the many Hollywood legends that Kent worked with – and the book is filled with great stories from these terrific Actors, Actresses, Writers, Directors and more!
Kent ended up working with such legendary Directors as Peter Bogdanovich, Brian De Palma, Richard Rush and Monte Hellman.
In fact, his first stunt work was as a stunt double for Jack Nicholson in Monte Hellman’s terrific westerns “Ride In The Whirlwind” and “The Shooting.”
Kent also did stunts for another Nicholson film, “Hells Angels On Wheels!”
As he writes in his book, some of the talent gathered for the film was not to be messed with:
“Now I found myself in Bakersfield once again, padded up to double Jack Nicholson, and mingling with Sonny Barger and the Oakland Angels, not a fuzzy, huggy bunch. The town was teeming with bad-boy bikers, all just begging for an ignition switch to kick-start the fireworks.”
This film is a classic slice of 60’s exploitation.
Check out the trailer:
Kent’s book is a rollicking tale of making low budget movies, but he also worked on some classic films as well.
He was Unit Production Manager on the classic 1974 film “Phantom of the Paradise”.
Brian DePalma’s rock musical included an electric performance by Paul Williams, who also wrote the entire soundtrack, a trip through rock history at the time, with doo wop, surf music and glam rock as well!
This brilliant film was remastered for blu-ray and includes a terrific conversation between Williams and Oscar-winning Director Guillermo Del Toro!
You can click here to see the movie trailer and find out all of the goodies that are part of the new blu-ray:
Perhaps the most riveting chapter of the book is called “Movies, Mayhem, And Murder!”
Gary’s “Charles Manson Moment!”
As depicted in Tarantino’s 2019 film, Kent ran into the notorious Manson cult while working at the Spahn Ranch – a riveting part of the film as well…
Here’s how Gary describes his first encounter with the murderer:
“Charles Manson’s handshake felt like a dead trout and he wouldn’t look me in the eye. We were on the Spahn Ranch, the hangout for Manson and his creepy-crawlies…to me, Manson was as shifty and full of hot air as a corn-eating cow.”
This is exactly the story that Tarantino tells in “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”, and reading Kent’s description of the events surrounding his time with Manson is chilling.
Kent has had an incredible career: in 1985 he wrote and directed “Rainy Day Friends”, which won Best Special Stunt in a Motion Picture at the International Stuntman Awards.
Here’s the plot: a tough street kid from the L.A. barrios is discovered during an examination to have stomach tumors. During his hospitalization, he must learn to cope with not only his medical condition, but with people such as other patients, social workers and hospital personnel who come from a totally different world than he does–and they have to learn to cope with him.
Check out the trailer for this terrific, gritty film:
There is so much more packed into every page o this memoir, so search it out as a great homage to him.
Of course, a story this good needed a film made about it as well!
In 2019, this terrific documentary came out telling more of Gary’s story – from the people he worked with, and his own recollections as well – and it’s wild!
Here is the trailer:
I devoured the book and loved the documentary as well.
You all know that I love books about Hollywood, and this brand new book also features Jack Nicholson in a starring role:
“The Big Goodbye” tells the story of the creation of “Chinatown”, one of the greatest films ever made…and the book is packed with revealing details and fascinating insight…click here to see more:
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RIP Gary Kent…another legend lost…
Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Art, Books / Media, Cult Movies, documentary films, Exploitation films, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Great Films, Hollywood, Independent Cinema, Memoirs, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities
I am a bit embarrassed to admit I don’t know Gary Kent, John. The book and his life sound very exciting. His description of Charles Manson sounds spot on. I read Child of Satan, Child of God by Susan Atkins when I was 11 and he really gave me the chills.
Great tribute to a legendary stuntman, John.
Best wishes, Pete.
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Gary Kent will be remembered.
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oh, I think I’d love his book, imagine the crazy stories he’s lived through!
What happened to your posts about classic starlets, playmates, and exploitation movies? I cannot find them anywhere!
That website no longer exists.