Monday, June 26, 2017

RIP Loren Janes

News from Me
June 26, 2017

One of the world's greatest stuntmen, Loren Janes, died Saturday at the age of 85. Janes founded the Stuntmen Association of Motion Pictures and Television, did stunts in hundreds of movies and thousands of television shows and justifiably bragged that he never had a major injury and never broke a bone. The list of stars for whom he doubled included Jack Nicholson, Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Michael Douglas, Charles Bronson, Robert Wagner, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Yul Brunner, William Shatner, Frank Sinatra and even Debbie Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine and Esther Williams. Most notably, he did stunts for Steve McQueen is most of McQueen's films.

Actually for some of us, his most notable credit was that he did stunts all throughout It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. A lot of the stunt driving was Loren Janes and in the finale, when Eddie "Rochester" Anderson flies through the air and lands in the lap of an Abraham Lincoln statue, that's Loren in blackface makeup.

He was a superb athlete, competing in the Olympics in 1956 and again in 1964. He was also a good enough actor that he was occasionally given lines of dialogue and even hired for non-stunt roles. He was still working well into his seventies.

I got to spend time with Mr. Janes at two separate events relating to Mad World and he was a charming, fascinating guy who seemed to have been on the set of every movie made in Hollywood while he was active. Someone who was with us once made the comment that in Mad World, the biggest laugh may have been when the Three Stooges show up and do absolutely nothing. Janes told us he'd doubled for Moe in Snow White and the Three Stooges and he had plenty of stories from that filming.

He often lectured about his craft and one of the key points he made was that a stuntperson was an actor; that if he doubled the star diving through a plate glass window, he not only had to dive through the plate glass window — which in itself was difficult enough — he also had to do it with the body language of the actor he was doubling. Before he doubled Kirk Douglas, he'd spend hours studying how Douglas moved…and how he moved as that character.

He was one of the best and that's why he worked so much. And I think it's interesting that most of the stunt people in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World — though they spent their careers crashing cars and falling off roofs — lived to older ages than the stars they doubled. I hope the Academy includes Mr. Janes in the "In Memoriam" reel at next year's Oscars because he probably logged more camera time and participated in more memorable movie scenes than most of the actors they'll automatically include.

JANES, Loren
Born: 10/1/1931, Sierra Madre, California, U.S.A.
Died: 6/24/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Loren Janes’ westerns – actor, stuntman:
The Cisco Kid (TV) – 1955 (Tim Siebert)
The First Texan – 1956 [stunts]
Walk the Proud Land – 1956 [stunts]
The Adventures of Jim Bowie (TV) – 1956 [stunts]
Friendly Persuasion – 1956 [stunts]
The Oklahoman – 1957 [stunts]
The Tall Stranger – 1957 [stunts]
El Coyote (TV) – 1957 (Red)
Sugarfoot (TV) – 1957 [stunts]
From Hell to Texas – 1958 [stunts]
Broken Arrow (TV) – 1958 [stunts]
Pony Express – 1959 [stunts]
Thunder in the Sun – 1959 [stunts]
Laramie (TV) – 1959 [stunts]
Flaming Star – 1960 [stunts]
The Magnificent Seven – 1960 [stunts]
North to Alaska – 1960 [stunts]
Bat Masterson (TV) - 1960 [stunts]
The Misfits – 1961 [stunts]
How the West Was Won – 1962 [stunts]
McLintock! – 1963 [stunts]
Advance to the Rear – 1964 [stunts]
Cheyenne Autumn – 1964 [stunts]
The Sons of Katie Elder – 1965 (Ned Reese) [stunts]
Tickle Me – 1965 [stunts]
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys – 1966 [stunts]
Nevada Smith – 1966 (cowboy in Abilene, convict) [stunts]
The Fastest Gun Alive – 1967 [stunts]
The Great Bank Robbery – 1969 [stunts]
Paint Your Wagon – 1969 [stunts]
Little Big Man – 1970 [stunts]
Wild Women (TV) – 1970 [stunts]
Support Your Local Gunfighter – 1971 [stunts]
Junior Bonner – 1972 [stunts]
Blazing Saddles – 1974 [stunts]
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1974 [stunts]
The Master Gunfighter – 1975 [stunts]
The Missouri Breaks – 1976 [stunts]
Goin’ South – 1978 [stunts]
Butch and Sundance: The Early Days – 1979 [stunts]
Tom Horn – 1980 [stunts]
North and South – 1985 [stunts]
 ¡Three Amigos! – 1986 [stunts]
Wild Wild West – 1999 [stunts]

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