Bud Ekins, a champion motorcyclist who performed the hair-raising stunt in “The Great Escape,” died of natural causes on Oct. 6 in Los Angeles. He was 77.
Ekins was born in Hollywood and was one of the first Americans to compete in the World Championship Motocross Grand Prix circuit in Europe during the 1950s. He also earned gold medals in the International Six Day Trial.
After his racing career, Ekins went on to become a Hollywood stuntman. He met Steve McQueen at his motorcycle dealership, helping the actor learn off-road racing. 1962, McQueen asked Ekins to come to Germany to do some stunt riding for the filming of “The Great Escape,” including the jump scene where McQueen is trying to escape by motorcycle from a German prison camp and attempts an impossible jump over a barbed-wire fence. Ekins, acting as stunt double for McQueen, was the rider who performed the classic motorcycle stunt.
Ekins continued his stunt work, working on films including McQueen’s “Bullitt” and Steven Spielberg’s WWII film “1941” until he was in his mid-60s. After retiring, Ekins continued running a small motorcycle shop in Hollywood featuring vintage machines.
Ekins is survived by two daughters, Susan Ekins, a producer, and Donna Ekins Kapner; a sister; a brother and two granddaughters.