Carey Loftin

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Carey Loftin
Born
William Carey Loftin

(1914-01-31)January 31, 1914
DiedMarch 4, 1997(1997-03-04) (aged 83)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
Other namesCary Loftin
Carry Loftin
Carey Lofton
Gary Loftin
William Carey Loftin
OccupationStuntman, stunt coordinator, actor
Years active1937–1997

William Carey Loftin (January 31, 1914 – March 4, 1997; akas: Cary Loftin, Carry Loftin, Carey Lofton, Gary Loftin, William Carey Loftin) was an American professional stuntman, stunt coordinator and actor in the U.S. film industry. He is considered to be one of the film industry's most accomplished stunt drivers.[1] In a lengthy career spanning 61 years, his body of work included classic films such as Thunder Road, Bullitt, Vanishing Point, Duel, and The French Connection.[2] He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001.[1]

Early life[edit]

Loftin was born in Blountstown, Florida and grew up in Alabama and Mississippi where, he learned to ride a motorcycle when he was 10 years-old.[2] He attended high school in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and began his stunt career at the age of 19 as a member of a traveling motorcycle stunt show in the early 1930s.[1] Having to constantly repair and maintain motorcycles made him a proficient mechanic.[1] After serving in the United States Marine Corps, Loftin moved to Los Angeles, California in the late 1930s where he worked as a mechanic.[1]

Film Industry career[edit]

He began his career as a stuntman in the 1930s, working in serials such as Dick Tracy Returns and The Green Hornet.[3] During the 1940s and 1950s, Loftin raced in many Southern California off-road motorcycle events such as the Catalina Grand Prix, the Big Bear Hare & Hound desert race, the Greenhorn Enduro and others.[2] Loftin was soon being hired by film studios for his talent as a motorcycle stunt rider but, also became invaluable for his mechanical expertise on film sets.[1] Although Loftin performed many different types of stunt work, it is his driving abilities for which he is most remembered. His stunt driving in the 1958 film Thunder Road was considered groundbreaking for its realism.[3] He had an uncredited stunt driver role in the seminal 1966 auto racing film, Grand Prix.

Loftin served as the uncredited stunt coordinator for the 1968 film Bullitt, which included one of the most influential car chase scenes in film history.[4][5][6][7] He was also one of the stuntmen driving the green Ford Mustang during the chase scene filmed on the streets of San Francisco.[8][9] While working on Bullitt, one of his fellow stuntmen called him "the greatest car man in the business".[1] Loftin was also involved in the filming of the car chase scene in the 1971 film The French Connection, which is also considered one of the most impressive car chases in film history.[10][11] Loftin mentioned that the hardest stunt to do during his whole career was during the final scene in White Line Fever (1975) driving the main character truck, for which he was the only hired stuntman. This later got him more iconic stuntman roles for the main characters trucks in The Great Smokey Roadblock (1977), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Steel Cowboy (1978), High Ballin' (1978), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) and in Over The Top (1987).

Aside from being a busy stuntman, Loftin also acted in bit parts of the many films and television shows in which he performed stunts.[2] One of his most famous, yet discreet roles was as the murderous truck driver in Steven Spielberg's Duel (billed as Gary Loftin), in which only his arm and boots can be seen.[2] He also acted as a truck driver in Stroker Ace (1983) in which his face is never seen as in Duel, but not as a villain this time.[citation needed]

He did, however, act as a kind of villainous car driver in Christine (1983) and similarly, as a faceless truck driver in Maximum Overdrive (1986), both in which films the machinery comes to life as evil. He did a little acting, all the stunt work and some driving scenes in Christine, where he drove the main character car and also as the guy driving the white Dodge truck with the red stripe that drops off one of the characters on a road. He also did much of the stunt work and driving scenes in Maximum Overdrive, being sole driver of the red trash truck marked "Zeke's Trash Removal" and one of two stunt drivers, along with Tommy J. Huff, of the lead character Green Goblin truck. Loftin acted as another murderous faceless truck driver in Messenger of Death (1988) again with Tommy J. Huff and had a supporting role as Skinner in the Keenan Wynn and Bob Mathias series The Troubleshooters, which aired on NBC in the 1959–1960 season.[citation needed]

A notable demonstration of stunt driving that Loftin performed was the car chase/race in Against All Odds (1984). He was the driver of the black 1982 Ferrari 308 GTB. According to the movie's director, Taylor Hackford, Loftin was 68 when he did this stunt. At first Hackford was reluctant to hire the aging stuntman, but stunt coordinator Gary Davis convinced Hackford that, even at his age, Loftin was by far the best car man in the business at that time.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

Loftin eventually semi-retired in 1991 at age 77 after doing Pink Lightning (1991), although he still took minor stunt roles as a truck driver. He did stunt driving for the main characters' trucks in B.J. and the Bear (1978–81) and Movin' On (1974-76). His last major role was in Black Dog (1998) for the main characters truck he did the stunt driving for. Loftin died after the movie was filmed and before the movie premiered.

Loftin died of natural causes on March 4, 1997 in Huntington Beach, California, aged 83.[1] He is a member of the Stuntmen's Hall of Fame, and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.[1][12]

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Carey Loftin at the AMA Hall of Fame". motorcyclemuseum.org. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Freese, Gene Scott (2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s-1970s: A Biographical Dictionary. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Anatomy of the Car Chase: A History of Crash and Bang, From 'The French Connection' to 'Mad Max: Fury Road'". grantland.com. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Bullitt Movie Review & Film Summary". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Peter Yates, Filmmaker, Dead at 71". nytimes.com. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  6. ^ Maltin, Leonard, ed. (2004). Leonard Maltin's 2004 Movie and Video Guide. Penguin Group. p. 195. Taut action-film makes great use of San Francisco locations, especially in now-classic car chase, one of the screen's all-time best; Oscar-winning editing by Frank Keller.
  7. ^ Jesse Crosse, The Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time (St. Paul: MBI Publishing, 2006), 16.
  8. ^ Padgett-Russin, Nina (September 23, 2001). "McQueen liked doing own stunts, but he demurred with the GT 390". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 10, 2016 – via Highbeam Research.
  9. ^ Myers, Marc (2011-01-26). "Chasing the Ghosts of 'Bullitt'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-02-04.
  10. ^ "Top 10 car chase movies - MOVIES - MSNBC.com". MSNBC. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  11. ^ "The French Connection" car chase was as dangerous as it looked". roadandtrack.com. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame". stuntmen.org. Retrieved 4 February 2017.

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