For a guy who was already going by "Evel Knievel," the legendary stuntman sure had a kingly list of titles:
King of the Daredevils, The Last of the Gladiators, The Godfather of Extreme Sports, Guinness Book of Records holder for the most bones broken, an unwavering optimist, a doer, a go-getter, self-promoter extraordinaire, media genius, an enigmatic folk hero — an American legend. [EvelKnievel.com]
Robert Craig Knievel was born on Oct. 17, 1938, in Butte, Mont. Knievel was quick to push the limits of the law and his own safety. But it wasn't until the early 60s that the born daredevil found his calling. He started small enough — jumping his motorcycle across some boxes of rattlesnakes as a stunt for a little extra cash — but wound up an American icon (and millionaire) — zipping over busses and shooting out of cannons. The daredevil died Nov. 30, 2007, having struggled with diabetes and other health issues.
His picture-perfect stunts, though? They still take the cake. Here, a short visual tribute to the legend on his birthday.
Knievel tries out a tricycle at age three in his hometown of Butte, MT. (AP Photo)
Knievel sails over the smashed bodies of 50 cars, set 18 abreast, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1973. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Gracing a Sports Illustrated cover in 1974. (SI Vault)
Knievel clears 13 single-deck buses, only to crash on the landing ramp at Wembley Stadium, London, in May of 1975. He suffered a broken hand and spinal injuries. (David Ashdown/Keystone/Getty Images)
At 35, the established daredevil points to his moniker, emblazoned on the side of his 'Sky Cycle', the vehicle in which he failed to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. (David Ashdown/Getty Images)
Knievel poses on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, circa 1975. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Always the performer, Knievel rocks out with the crowd after winning a Pioneer Award at the "ESPN Action Sports and Music Awards" in 2001. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)