H. B. Halicki

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H.B. Halicki
H.B. Halicki.jpg
Halicki in Gone in 60 Seconds, 1974
Born Henry Blight Halicki
(1940-10-18)October 18, 1940
Dunkirk, New York
Died August 20, 1989(1989-08-20) (aged 48)
Tonawanda, Buffalo, New York, United States
Other names Hank Halicki
The Car Crash King
The Junkman
Toby Halicki
Tony Halicki
Years active 1973–1989
Spouse(s) Denice Shakarian Halicki (1983–1989)

Henry Blight Halicki (October 18, 1940 – August 20, 1989), most commonly known as H. B. "Toby" Halicki, was an American director, writer, stunt driver, actor, and filmmaker. Halicki directed the 1974 film Gone in 60 Seconds, which contained a 40-minute chase sequence described by USA Today as "One of the Greatest Chase Scenes in History".[citation needed]

Halicki produced and starred in several other films in the same genre as Gone in 60 Seconds. He was killed in an accident while filming Gone in 60 Seconds 2 in 1989. His widow, Denice Shakarian Halicki, wanted to keep his legacy alive and, along with Jerry Bruckheimer and Touchstone Pictures, produced an eponymous remake based on the 1974 original.


Halicki was born in a Polish-American family in Dunkirk, New York in 1940 and was one of thirteen children. All thirteen children were given nicknames; his was "Toby". Toby started to develop his fascination with cars while working in the family towing business. He started driving at a young age and developed a wide knowledge of automobiles by the age of ten. When he was a teenager, after the loss of two of his brothers, Halicki decided to move to California and live with one of his uncles.


He was 15½ when he came out from New York to California with an uncle who couldn't read or write, so he worked on cars to make a living.[1] Halicki began working at a local gas station in Gardena, California. He started collecting cars at the age of 16, eventually ranging his collection from 1920s classics to lowriders and Ferraris. By 17, Halicki owned and operated his own auto body shop and, still in high school, he signed a contract with an insurance company to detail and do minor repairs on 2,000 new cars at $25 apiece. By 21, Toby owned and operated his own auto salvage company.[2] Later he owned a towing and impound business where he got to know the local police.[1]

Long work hours and fulfilling strict time commitments laid the foundation for the sizable empire he created by the time he was 34 years old.

Gone in 60 Seconds[edit]

For his venture into film, Halicki decided to make the movie that became Gone in 60 Seconds in 1973. He wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film, and with his business sense, he trademarked the terms "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Eleanor".[3]

1971 (as 1973) Ford Mustang Sportsroof from the 1974 film Gone in Sixty Seconds

There was no official script for the movie, apart from several pages outlining main dialog sequences. Halicki supplied most of the cars and used repeated footage of the same vehicles and shots of public incidents to increase the footage. The scene in which a train derailment is observed was not part of the original shooting script; it is in fact a real train that derailed. When the director heard about the wreck, he wanted to incorporate it into the film.[citation needed]

According to people on the set, after the mishap when a driver missed a mark and caused "Eleanor" to hit a real light post at 100 mph, the first thing Halicki said when he regained consciousness was, "Did we get coverage?"

To achieve the effect of cars sliding into each other when hit by the patrol car at the Moran Cadillac dealership, the filmmakers put oil under the tires of the first few cars to help them slide. When it came time to do the stunt, it worked too well, and many of the dealer's own Cadillacs that were for sale were badly damaged, resulting in Halicki's having to purchase them all.

Halicki compacted 10 vertebrae performing the film's 128-foot-long (39 m) jump finale and walked with a limp afterwards.[4]

Much of the action and dialog was improvised, which caused many problems for the editor, Warner E. Leighton, who never knew what footage was being dumped on him or where in the movie it belonged. In the DVD audio commentary, he described the script for the construction site portion of the main pursuit as a piece of cardboard with a circle on it. Halicki pointed at it and said, "That's the dust bowl. We went around it twice. There's your script."[citation needed]

H.B. Halicki Junkyard and Mercantile Company[edit]

After completing the movie, Toby started building H.B. Halicki Junkyard and Mercantile Company with western pieces from around the world. He was classified as the owner of the "world's largest antique toy & automobile collection" consisting of over 100,000 collectible items. He handpicked every toy, car, and piece in the building. Toby's first car was a 1956 Buick Century. He custom-painted it candy-apple red, highlighted by trailing and reversed scallops of yellow and orange, tipped with red. Among his other purchases was a 1953 Buick Skylark. Toby stopped a bidding session at $6,000.00 so his film editor Jerry Viring could buy a 1949 Buick Roadmaster.

The collection was Toby's private oasis, which he kept away from his house. He was able to drive his cars and motorcycles in and out of hidden garage doors, and he prized and loved his collection of toys, cars, guns, motorcycles, and antiques.

The main room was wall-to-wall with memorabilia from Disney, Coca-Cola, movie memorabilia, ray guns, Little Big Books, hubcaps, motorcycles, and neon signs. Inside his building (the size of a football field) his collection ranged from vintage automobiles from the 1920s, to custom low-riders, exotic Ferraris, Citroëns, and Stutz. There was also a movie room for "Eleanor", the car featured in Gone in 60 Seconds (1974).

His office was a gargantuan garage displaying toy cars, real cars, and all sorts of antique bric-a-brac. In the beginning of Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974), many pairs of aviator-style sunglasses are seen lined along the dashboard of the Cadillac. However, in real life, it was Halicki's Rolls-Royce which received the "Toby treatment".

Two items vied to be the most striking feature in Toby's office: one was the way Toby could drive into the garage office and park the Rolls within spitting distance of his desk; the other was the desk itself, facing two overstuffed chairs with a chintzy fringed lamp in between, standing high on a pedestal, so that guests had to stare upward toward their host, at about a 30 degree angle.

Marriage, the 1989 reboot of Gone In 60 Seconds and death[edit]

Halicki was introduced to Denice Shakarian in 1983, and in 1986 they got engaged. The couple lived in Southern California and married on May 11, 1989, in Dunkirk, New York.

On June 9, 1989, Toby and Denice Halicki began to shoot the 1989 reboot Gone in 60 Seconds, which would star them both. The reboot is not the same storyline of 1974 film. Halicki wanted a new and bigger story about a professional international thief! Bigger car chases, he bought over 400 cars to destroy for the 1989 Gone in 60 Seconds.

On August 20, 1989, while filming in Dunkirk and Buffalo, New York, Toby was preparing for the most dramatic stunt sequence in the film, during which a 160 ft tall (49m) water tower was supposed to topple to the ground. When a cable attached to the tower snapped unexpectedly, it sheared off a telephone pole, which fell on Halicki, killing him instantly.

In light of the 1989 reboot of Gone in 60 Seconds project and their marriage, the Halicki estate faced a number of legal challenges. After seven trials, in 1994 the court released Halicki's films and the associated copyrights to Denice Shakarian Halicki, but she was forced to sell her husband's car & toy collection to pay the legal fees. Halicki planned to finish her late husband's dream and make a new Gone in 60 Seconds movie based on the 1989 unfinished film.

Legacy and 2000 Gone in 60 Seconds remake[edit]

In 1995, Denice Shakarian Halicki kept her husband's legacy alive by licensing some of her rights and producing a 2000 remake of Halicki's original 1974 movie, along with Disney, Touchstone Pictures, and Jerry Bruckheimer. "Eleanor" reprised her role, appearing with master car thief Randall "Memphis" Raines (Nicolas Cage).

1967 custom Fastback Mustang Eleanor from the 2000 Gone in Sixty Seconds

In its opening weekend, the remake grossed $25,336,048 from 3,006 US theaters, leading all films that weekend. By the end of the film's theatrical run, it had grossed $101,648,571 domestically and $135,553,728 internationally, comprising a total gross revenue for the film of $237,202,299 worldwide.[5]

The popularity of the Remake 2000 Gone in 60 Seconds Movie star car character Eleanor, as a custom 1967 Mustang. A number of car shops started to produce the Copyrighted Character "Eleanor" image & trademark name and Denice Halicki again had to resort to legal action to protect the trademark and the copyrighted Eleanor's image. In 2008, Halicki won a case against Carroll Shelby, who had been selling "Eleanor" using Eleanor's Trademark name and Copyrighted image.[6][7][8]


Year Film Role Notes
1973 Love Me Deadly Race Driver Actor, Associate Producer
1974 Gone in 60 Seconds Maindrian "Vicinski" Pace Actor, Producer, Writer, Director, Stunt Driver
1982 The Junkman Harlan B. Hollis/Maindrian "Vicinski" Pace Actor, Producer, Writer, Director, Stunt Driver
1982 The Making of the Junkman Himself/Host Documentary
1983 Deadline Auto Theft Maindrian "Vicinski" Pace Actor, Producer, Writer, Director, Stunt Driver
1988 Rock House Rolls-Royce Driver Actor
1989 Gone in 60 Seconds 2 International Thief Unfinished movie, Accidentally killed during filming
2003 The Life and Times of H.B. 'Toby' Halicki Himself Archive Footage, Documentary


  1. ^ a b "Mustang Monthly". Mustang Monthly. August 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Gone in 60 Seconds". Halicki. February 18, 2010. 
  3. ^ [1], US Patent and Tradmark Office trademark registration.
  4. ^ Smith, Jonny (April 9, 2009). "1967 Ford Mustang 'Eleanor' recreation". London: The Times. Retrieved April 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  6. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/11/13/idUS192963+13-Nov-2008+BW20081113
  7. ^ http://www.gmsr.com/news_win.cfm?id_news=1321
  8. ^ //www.67mustangblog.com/2008/11/denice-halicki-wins-dispute-with-carroll-shelby-over-eleanor-name/

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