From insane escape attempts to fearless tightrope artists, we count fifteen crazy, stupid and awesome death-defying stunts!
15 – Bus on Fire,
- Not since Otto from The Simpsons has someone driven a bus with such effortless style.
- Taking the wheel of a school bus, stuntman Steve Hudis jumped fifteen motorcycles, flew through a giant fireball and executed a safe landing, casually shattering a world record. The only victim was the bus’s suspension.
14 – Rinse Cycle,
- Perhaps inspired by that similar episode of Alex Mack, professional escape artist Rick Meisel somehow wrangled his way out of six pairs of handcuffs and two leg irons to escape a spinning washing machine.
- A few tumbles here, near-death by drowning there … All in a day’s work for a washing machine repairman.
13 – Near-Death Chariot Race,
- This is probably one of the closest calls in Hollywood stunt history. Stuntman Joe Canutt was standing in as Charlton Heston’s double during the dramatic chariot race scene of film Ben-Hur. Following a collision with a small obstacle, Canutt was flipped and thrown out of his chariot.
- Thinking quickly, he grabbed onto the hitching rail, narrowly avoiding being trampled to death. The near-fatal error was kept in the final film. No doubt cinema goers in 1959 would’ve gawked at the scene and said, through a mouthful of popcorn, ‘Gee wiz, Martha, that sure looks real!’
12 – Jumping the Grand Canyon,
- On May 20, 1999 Robbie Knievel did what his father, Evel Knivevel, never managed to do: he successfully jumped the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle.
- During the jump, Robbie managed a personal record of 228 feet. Unfortunately, he lost control of the bike during landing and broke his leg in the crashed. Still, that’s better than, y’know, dying.
11 – Crushed by a House,
- Buster Keaton was a popular comedian in the silent film era who often did insane, death-defying stunts to make audiences laugh.
- The most famous stunt occurred during a scene from the 1928 film Steamboat Bill Jr. To safely pull it off, Keaton had to stand completely still at a particular spot. Next, the facade of a three-story building toppled forward on top of him. Keaton emerged injury-free, owing his life to a single open window, which passed directly over him.
- The stunt was incredibly risky, as the prop house had significant weight behind it and the window only offered a few inches of space around Keaton’s body. The sequence became one of the most iconic scenes of his career.