H. B. Halicki
Halicki in Gone in 60 Seconds, 1974
|Born||Henry Blight Halicki
October 18, 1940
Dunkirk, New York, United States
|Died||August 20, 1989
Tonawanda, Buffalo, New York, United States
|Other names||Hank Halicki
The Car Crash King
|Years active||1973 - 1989|
|Spouse(s)||Denice Shakarian Halicki (1983-1989)|
Henry Blight "H.B." Halicki (October 18, 1940 – August 20, 1989) 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". Denice Shakarian Halicki wanted to keep Halicki's legacy alive and, along with Jerry Bruckheimer, produced a remake Gone in Sixty Seconds 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 being "Toby". The Halicki family was in the towing business and 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.
By 17, Halicki owned and operated his own auto body shop. At 17, 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 a piece. With business partner Ron Light, the following year they bought a tire store. Aged 21, he owned and operated an auto salvage company with business partner J.C. Agajanian Jr. Halicki also enrolled in real estate classes and began investing in commercial properties, which led to numerous land holdings and a successful junkyard business.
Gone in 60 Seconds 
For his venture into film, Halicki decided to make the film 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." 
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, but it is in fact a real train that derailed. When the director heard about the wreck, he wanted to incorporate it into the film.
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 that 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 film-makers 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 having to purchase them all. Halicki compacted 10 vertebrae performing the film’s 128-foot-long (39 m) jump finale, that he walked with a limp afterwards.
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."
H.B. Halicki Junkyard and Mercantile Company 
After the movie, Toby started building H.B. Halicki Junkyard and Mercantile Company with western pieces from around the world.
Toby Halicki 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, he bought 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 was kept away from his house and was able to drive his cars and motorcycles in and out of the hidden garage doors. 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" which was featured in Gone in 60 Seconds.
His office was a gargantuan garage displaying toy cars, real cars and all sorts of antique bric-a-brac. In "Gone in Sixty Seconds", many pairs of aviator-style sunglasses are seen lined along the dashboard of the Cadillac at the beginning of the movie. In real life, it was Halicki's Rolls Royce which received the "Toby treatment". Two items vied for 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, Gone In 60 Seconds 2 and Death 
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 his new wife Denice Shakarian Halicki began to shoot Gone In 60 Seconds 2 which was not a sequel, remake or based on Halicki's 1974 original. Toby Halicki wanted a new bigger story, about an international thief, specializing in high profile jobs who unwittingly becomes the central figure in a cross-continental duel-to-the-death to locate and steal a secret item before it falls into the clutches of a dangerous criminal.
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 160ft 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 Gone in 60 Seconds 2 project, and their recent marriage, there were a number of legal challenges to the Halicki estate. 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. Denice Shakarian Halicki plans to finish their dream and make a new Gone in 60 Seconds 2 movie based on the 1989 unfinished film.
Legacy Alive and Gone in 60 Seconds Remake based on the 1974 film 
In 1995, Denice Shakarian Halicki kept her husband's legacy alive by licensing some of her rights, and producing Gone in Sixty Seconds, a 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).
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.
The popularity of the second film revived the popularity of the "Eleanor" (now a 1967 Ford Mustang, not a 1973 model as in the original). A number of car shops started to produce "Eleanor" tagged replicas, which Denice had to use legal action to protect the trademark. In 2008, Denice Shakarian Halicki won a court case against Carroll Shelby, who had been selling "Eleanor" replicas. The 2008 appeal court decision stated that "Eleanor" is a copyrighted character, and that includes her image.
|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|