Gary Kent, legendary B-movie stuntman, actor and director, dies at 89

Gary Kent, iconic B-Series stuntman, actor and director who worked with Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Rush and Monte Hellman and inspired the character of Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino Once upon a time in Hollywood, is dead. He was 89 years old.

Kent died Thursday night at an assisted care facility in Austin, his son Chris Kent said. The Hollywood Reporter.

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Kent suffered two of his most painful injuries as a stuntman in the Rush films. He slit his arm on shattered glass during a barfight smash at Hells Angels on wheels (1967) and was hit by an out of control motorcycle in The Seven Savages (1968), where he shares scenes with Penny Marshall.

His half-century career as a stuntman ended on the set of Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) when he tumbled down a hill and injured his leg, but he continued as a stunt coordinator, working as recently as 2019 on Sex Terrorists on Wheels.

The amiable Kent played a gas tank worker (and did special effects) for Bogdanovich’s career launch Targets (1968) and was a rogue (and did fire stunts) in Rush’s Psych Out (1968), a hitman in The bloody devils of hell (1970), motorcyclist at The incredible 2-headed transplant (1971) and a rapist in wild women of angels (1971).

Tarantino interviewed Kent as he prepared his script for Once upon a time in Hollywood (2019), according to Joe O’Connell, who directed god of dangera nifty documentary about Kent released in 2018.

In the film, Pitt portrayed the charismatic Cliff Booth, a stunt double for Leonardo DiCaprio’s declining actor Rick Dalton, in an Oscar-winning turn.

Gary Kent (left) with fellow stuntman Chuck Bail

Gary Kent (left) with fellow stuntman Chuck Bail

Gary Warner Kent was born June 7, 1933, on a ranch in Walla Walla, Washington, and grew up about four hours north in Renton, Washington. He attended Renton High School and the University of Washington Huskies, where he studied journalism and was a quarterback and pole vaulter.

Kent left college to join the US Naval Air Force and was posted to Corpus Christi, Texas. There he did publicity for the famed Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron and performed on local stages. He then moved to Houston and wrote, directed, and performed at the Alley and Playhouse theaters.

Kent came by bus to Los Angeles in 1958 and worked in film production offices while landing roles in films including Legion of the Condemned (1958), King of the Wild Stallions (1959), battle flame (1959), Thrill Killers (1964) – as a psychopath – and Ted V. Mikels The Black Klan (1966).

His career took off when he convinced Jack Nicholson to hire him for two Hellman-directed westerns shot back-to-back in 1966 in Kanab, Utah. Roll in the whirlwind And Shooting.

He doubled for Nicholson in those films, impressing the actor with his willingness to fall off a horse without using landing platforms.

In the 1969 films, Kent wielded an ax in One million AC-DC (1969) and hit his old friend and stuntman John “Bud” Cardos in Satan’s Sadists.

While shooting low-budget films at the Spahn Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, he met Charles Manson and members of his “family”, whom he made sure to tell Tarantino about.

Behind the camera, Kent served as assistant director on Al Adamson’s Dracula versus Frankenstein (1971) and served as unit production manager on ghost of paradise (1974), directed by Brian De Palma.

After being sent to Dallas to direct a film that failed to get financing, he stayed to write and direct the new age drama The pyramid (1976). The film was included in the recent book TCM Underground: 50 must-see films from the world of cult classics and late-night cinema.

Kent also wrote and directed Rainy Day Friends (1985), which featured another of his great stunt buddies, Chuck Bail – he played the stunt coordinator in Rush’s acclaimed film The stuntman — and Esai Morales as cancer patients.

Gary Kent

Gary Kent (right) with John “Bud” Cardos in 2019

Kent continued acting well into his 80s in independent films. On a poster for god of dangerhe’s wearing a T-shirt that says, “Stunts aren’t afraid of death, they defy it!”

his memoirs, Shadows & Light: Journeys with Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywoodwas released in 2009.

Kent has been married four times. Survivors include her children, Chris, Greg, Colleen, Andrew, Alex and Michael, and her grandchildren, Ethan, Nicolette, Timothy and Hannah.

In a 2018 interview with The Austin ChronicleKent said he was lucky to have worked in the “golden age of stuntmen”.

“CGI really changed things,” he said. “I just did a movie as a stunt coordinator, and they didn’t have the money to hire stunt people. They had fights in the script, so I asked the actors if any of them had ever done stunts. They all raised their hands, but none of them had really done stunts before. Maybe they threw a glass of water or something, but a stunt is about rolling cars or doing high falls. It’s difficult. These days, every actor thinks he’s a stuntman.

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