Hal Needham wrote and directed his friend Burt Reynolds in 1977’s “Smokey and the Bandit.” The film was a huge hit, grossing $126M domestically.
Post-“Smokey,” Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds teamed up again for “Hooper,” a film based on Needham’s stuntman roots.
Hal Needham’s next film was “The Villain,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kirk Douglas and Ann-Margret.
The 1980 sequel received mostly poor reviews, but was a modest box office success and spawned a third film with Burt Reynolds in a cameo role.
Hal Needham directed the comedy hit “The Cannonball Run” in 1981.
The action film was a flop at the box office, and nominated for three Razzies.
The 1983 comedy about a NASCAR driver starred Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson.
Although it featured an all-star cast, critics hated the movie, with Gene Siskel once saying it was his least favorite film.
Originally released in 1986, “Rad” became a rental hit for two years after its release.
Because of a legal dispute with the producers, Hal Needham’s film “Body Slam” was never released theatrically, but found life on homevideo.
Hal Needham received a Governors Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences last year, where he was introduced by Tarantino, who said, “I have ripped off a lot of shots from you, and today I say, ‘Thank you very much.’” At the tribute, Needham called himself “the luckiest man alive and lucky to be alive.”
Army Archerd wrote about Needham’s wedding in 1981. Here’s the text below:
GOOD MORNING: Showbiz before pleasure — new groom, director Hal Needham who wed Dani Janssen Sunday p.m. in a show-stopping ceremony on the western street at Universal, was on the phone at 8 ahem yesterday to recent (one-week old) groom, producer Al Ruddy. The reason: with the DGA strike averted, they wanted to meet pronto with Raymond Chow to put in motion either “The Texans” or “Megaforce.” Raymond wants to start the latter super-epic in September to have it ready for release next summer with the same pattern as “Cannonball Run.” And why not — the “Run” pattern’s paying off handsomely at the boxoffice. They’d like “Magnum P.I.” star Tom Selleck to lead “Megaforce” in a cast calling for top 10 roles. Selleck had been paged for “Cannonball,” but details couldn’t be worked out … Burt Reynolds, starring in “Cannonball,” was Needham’s best man. He horseback rode alongside Needham to the backlot western “church” where Dani Janssen arrived in open carriage with Sidney Korshak, who gave the bride away before 600 cheering pals. The wedding group included smiling Universal exec, as well as Needham and Burt. “Smokey I & II” brought in over $133,000,000 in rentals for Universal … It was true Hollywood success story for ex-stuntman Needham who noted, as he looked at the western building fronting the band floor, that he had jumped from the rooftop of that building more times than his back cares to remember … After Jackie Eastland performed the ceremony (few could hear her voice but it was taped for posterity) the wedding guests, who included top exec as well as stuntmen, set workers, lined up for a bangup bar-b-q by Chris Karamanos. Reynolds and Kris wedding-gifted the couple with booze (served in Mason jars) and vittles … Mel Tellis, Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker entertained — and continued on at Reynolds’ house.