Gary Kent

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Gary Kent
Kent in 2016
Born(1933-06-07)June 7, 1933
DiedMay 25, 2023(2023-05-25) (aged 89)
Alma materUniversity of Washington
Years active1959–2023

Gary Kent (June 7, 1933 – May 25, 2023) was an American film director, actor, and stuntman notable for his appearances in various independent, grindhouse, and exploitation films. A native of Washington, Kent studied at the University of Washington before later embarking on a film career. He made his feature film debut in Battle Flame (1959) and had roles in several additional low-budget films in the 1960s, including The Black Klansman (1966) and the biker film The Savage Seven (1968). He also served as a stunt double for Bruce Dern in Psych-Out (1969).

Kent and his experiences as a stuntman served as one of the inspirations for Cliff Booth, the character portrayed by Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).


Early life[edit]

Kent was born on June 7, 1933,[1] on a wheat ranch in Walla Walla, Washington, the son of Arthur E. and Iola Kent. He graduated from Renton High School in Renton, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, and attended the University of Washington, where he studied journalism, played football and pole-vaulted on the track team. In 1952, after one quarter at UW, he dropped out to join the U.S. Navy. Stationed in Texas, he wrote promotion and publicity for the elite flying team, The Blue Angels.[2] He was honorably discharged in 1954.


In 1955 Kent moved to Hollywood with his wife, Joyce, and son, Greg, and worked as a parking lot attendant while looking for acting jobs. He eventually worked primarily in drive-in exploitation films.[3] He acted, worked stunts, and directed action for directors Richard Rush, Monte Hellman, Al Adamson, Don Jones, Ray Dennis Steckler, Peter Bogdanovich, and Brian De Palma. He performed television stunts and acted on Green Hornet, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and NBC's Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker.[2] Some of the films he directed were The Pyramid (1975)[4] and Rainy Day Friends (1983).[5] Kent doubled Jack Nicholson in stunts in the Richard Rush films Hells Angels on Wheels, The Savage Seven and Psych-Out, and also did his very first stunts in 1966 Nicholson films Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting, which shot back to back in Kanab, Utah, under the direction of Monte Hellman.[6]

In his 2009 memoir Shadows and Light,[7] Kent wrote of an "outlaw" cinema aimed at breaking film taboos and barriers.[8] In the book he talks of shooting at Spahn Ranch when Charles Manson and his followers were there.[9] He retired from stunts in 2003 after an accident on Don Coscarelli's film Bubba Ho-Tep, for which Kent served as stunt coordinator, but continued to act in independent films.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Kent was married four times, to Joyce Peacock, 1953-1964 (divorce); Rosemary Galleghly, 1961-1968 (divorce); Sherry Lee Tilley, 1973 (divorce); and Shirley Willeford, 1977-2005 (her death). He had six children: Greg, Colleen, and Andrew with Joyce, and Chris, Alex, and Mike with Rosemary.

Later years[edit]

As of 2018, Kent resided in Austin, Texas.[3] Kent and his career as a stuntman in Hollywood (specifically his experience working at Spahn Ranch while the Manson family resided there) served as inspiration for the character of Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).[10][11] Kent is the subject of the documentary Danger God.[12]

Kent died in Austin on May 25, 2023, at the age of 89.[1][13][14]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1959 Battle Flame Gilcrist [15]
1964 The Thrill Killers Barcroft [16]
1966 The Black Klansman Wilkins [13]
1966 Ride in the Whirlwind Stunts [13]
1966 The Shooting Stunts [13]
1967 Hells Angels on Wheels Bearded Hood Uncredited; also stunts [13]
1968 Psych-Out Thug leader Also stunts [13]
1968 The Savage Seven Lansford [17]
1968 Targets Gas tank worker [13]
1968 A Man Called Dagger Stunts [18]
1969 One Million AC/DC Olaf [13]
1969 The Mighty Gorga Arnold [19]
1969 Satan's Sadists Johnny [13]
1969 Body Fever Frankie [20]
1970 Hell's Bloody Devils Hit Man [13]
1971 The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant Motorcyclist Stunts [13]
1971 The Return of Count Yorga Stunts [1]
1971 Dracula vs. Frankenstein Bob [21]
1972 Angels' Wild Women [13]
1973 Schoolgirls in Chains Frank [22]
1974 Freebie and the Bean Ambulance Attendant Also stunts [23]
1982 The Forest John [24]
1983 Lost Jack [25]
1988 Lethal Pursuit Bud [26]
1994 Color of Night [27]
1996 Street Corner Justice Monsignor Rowan [28]
2002 Bubba Ho-Tep Stunts [13]


  1. ^ a b c St Martin, Emily (May 27, 2023). "Gary Kent, stuntman who inspired Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,' dies at 89". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Freese, Gene Scott (April 2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s–1970s: A Biographical Dictionary (2nd ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 156. ISBN 978-0786476435. Retrieved February 17, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c Gross, Joe (June 2, 2018). "Austin stuntman Gary Kent has lived a life right out of the movies". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  4. ^ Ratliff, Larry (June 7, 2011). "'Pyramid' power: A Gary Kent lovefest". Larry Ratliff. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  5. ^ Thomas, Kevin (December 19, 1985). "'Rainy Day Friends' are Surrounded by Puddles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  6. ^ Edwards, Scott (January 2018). Quintessential Jack: The Art of Jack Nicholson on Screen. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-1476670942.
  7. ^ Kent, Gary (July 2009). Shadows and Light: Journeys with Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood. Dalton Pub. ISBN 978-0981744377.
  8. ^ Rosenblatt, Josh (November 2, 2009). "Hollywood, Texas". The Texas Observer. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  9. ^ Savlov, Marc (July 10, 2009). "The Fall Guy". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  10. ^ Gretschel, Johanna (November 11, 2019). "Meet Austin's 'Danger God,' the real-life stuntman who inspired Quentin Tarantino". Austin360. Archived from the original on April 11, 2020.
  11. ^ Niesel, Jeff (March 30, 2018). "Documentary About Stuntman Gary Kent to Screen at Cinema Wasteland". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  12. ^ "Danger God".
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Barnes, Mike (May 26, 2023). "Gary Kent, Fabled B-Movie Stuntman, Actor and Director, Dies at 89". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  14. ^ Whittaker, Richard (May 26, 2023). "Farewell to the Danger God: Gary Kent (1933–2023)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  15. ^ "Battle Flame (1959)". BFI. Archived from the original on March 10, 2023. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  16. ^ "The Thrill Killers – Rotten Tomatoes". August 7, 1964. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  17. ^ "The Savage Seven". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  18. ^ "A Man Called Dagger". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  19. ^ The Mighty Gorga (1969), retrieved May 30, 2023
  20. ^ "Body Fever – Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  21. ^ "Dracula vs. Frankenstein". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  22. ^ "Schoolgirls in Chains – Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  23. ^ "Freebie and the Bean". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  24. ^ "The Forest – Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  25. ^ "Lost". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  26. ^ "Lethal Pursuit". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  27. ^ "Color of Night". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  28. ^ "Street Corner Justice". Retrieved May 30, 2023.

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