In the 1970’s, the legend of Evel Knievel consumed the United States (and the world).
Generation X grew up glued to the television for Evel Knievel’s latest high flying stunt.
They imitated his stunts on bicycles and acted out his performances with Evel Knievel toys.
But how did he capture the attention of a generation of kids?
Evel Knievel was born Robert Craig Knievel on Oct. 17, 1938 in Butte, Montana.
He started out performing at small rural fairs, captivating audiences with his death-defying acts.
Around this time, he figured out the secret to his success.
People wanted to see him take it to the edge, but they didn’t want him to die, they wanted to see him cheat death.
Stories about Evel Knievel’s broken bones and injuries were legendary, and that was by design.
Evel could take a beating, but death had no answer for him.
On December 31, 1967, Evel jumped the fountains of Caesar’s Palace. He suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles and a concussion that kept him in a coma for 29 days.
On September 8, 1974, Evel attempted to jump Snake River Canyon in a rocket. It landed only a few feet from the water on the same side of the canyon it had been launched from. Knievel survived the jump with only minor injuries.
On May 26, 1975, in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium in London, Knievel crashed while trying to land a jump over thirteen single-deck AEC Merlin buses
In January 1977, Knievel was scheduled to jump a tank full of live sharks. During his rehearsal, he lost control and crashed into a cameraman.
After the failed shark jump, Knievel retired from major performances and limited his appearances to speaking only. A generation of kids will never forget.