Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RIP Lightning Bear

Stunt coordinator, stuntman, special effects expert Lightning Bear died in Hanau, Germany today June 14, 2011. He was born in Houston, Texas on October 7, 1947 and from there moved to California. He has always had an interest in the entertainment Industry. In Junior High School there was a talent show in which he did a comedy song and then went into theater in high school in acting, set making, and lighting. His first work in films was with a production company doing commercials and travel logs for the Mexican government. They spent 6 months traveling through Mexico. In 1965 after leaving the company, a Scottish friend and him, decided to go to Hollywood to visit a friend they had met in Mexico. They decided to stay and he got his first job there, working at the Playboy Club parking cars. While he was working one night, a man came in whose car had broken down. They had to take the car back to the station. His friend that was with him asked if he could give him a ride home. The man was Spanky McFarland on the "Little Rascals". He was producing and directing at Universal Studios at the time. Lightning Bear told him of his work in Mexico and that he loved the industry and Spanky offered to help him. His friend that owned the car was Carl Ambrosia who was a Casting Director. They got Lightning Bear into central casting and then used his credits in Mexico to get him into SAG. Spanky got him his first job, which was on "The Virginian" TV series. Here Lightning Bear met Dick Shane who was the Stunt Coordinator for the show who started to train him as a stunt man. Also during the filming he met Hal Needham who started the first Stunt Association in Hollywood called Stunts Unlimited. After returning from Vietnam in the 70s he had the chance to work with Richard Harris on the film "A Man Called Horse" which later helped get him on Star Wars. It was during pre-production and production of the "Return of a Man Called Horse" that he traveled to England and heard about Star Wars. His blood brother who is from England was working as a model maker on Star Wars at Elstree Studios. He took Lightning Bear with him and helped get him work as a Stormtrooper. Later Lightning Bear was fortunate to work on the other films as both a Stormtrooper and Biker Scout. One of the highlights of his life was being able to meet and work with the late great Peter Diamond. Lightning Bear took a break from the industry as he was also teaching stunts. He decided after doing "Black Rain", to only teach for a while. After moving to Germany in 1997, he started to meet people in the industry there and decided then to go back into it. In 2005, Lightning Bear got his first chance at Directing an Independent Film called "Bad Blood".

Born: 10/7/1947, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 6/11/2011, Hanau, Hesse, Germany

Ligthning Bear's westerns - stuntman:
The Virginian - 1965 (stunts)
Bonanza - 1965 (stunts)
Cat Ballou - 1965 (stunts)
A Man Called Horse - 1970 (stunts)
The Return of a Man Called Horse - 1976 (stunts)
The Villain - 1979 (stunts)
Triumphs of a Man Called Horse - 1983 (stunts)

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