Acclaimed actor-director-producer Burt Reynolds, the late stuntman and director Hal Needham and veteran stuntman Bob Herron will be honored at the 54th annual Stuntman’s Ball on Sept. 19 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, presented by the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures. The event will also feature a silent auction benefiting the Taurus World Stunt Awards Foundation.
Reynolds will receive the Richard “Diamond” Farnsworth Award, named for the late actor and stuntman, a kudo that represents the bond between the actor and the stuntman. Jon Voight will present the award to Reynolds. Reynolds has been in show business for more than 50 years, earning an Oscar nomination for his work in 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” for which he won a Golden Globe. He also won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for acting in the CBS sitcom “Evening Shade” in the 1990s. After working in television during the 1960s, Reynolds came to prominence in films with his performance in John Boorman’s “Deliverance.” But it was his association with his longtime stunt double and later director, the late Hal Needham, beginning with “Smokey and the Bandit” in 1977 that cemented him as a box office draw that carried through the 1980s.
Needham, who died in 2013, will receive the Legacy Award (In Memoriam). His widow, Ellyn Needham, will accept the award, to be presented by veteran stuntman Billy Burton. Needham was one of the industry’s best known stuntmen, moving into writing and directing hits starring his longtime friend Reynolds such as “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Hooper” and “The Cannonball Run.” He had more than 100 stunt credits, and directed 20 films and TV movies. He is credited with inventing some of the industry’s most innovative techniques such as the air ram, air bag, car cannon turnover and the shotmaker camera car. Needham was honored in 2012 with a Governor’s Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for his significant contribution to film.
Herron will be honored with the President’s Award, a life achievement laurel bestowed by the members of the Stuntmen’s Association to one of their own. Herron, who’ll turn 91 on Sept. 23, is a founding member and past president of the Stuntmen’s Association. He has more than 350 film and television credits and worked steadily until performing his final stunt at the age of 89, just two years ago. He was a longtime stunt double for Ernest Borgnine, and was the stunt double for Ross Martin in the classic late-60s Western-spy series “The Wild Wild West.” Robert Conrad, the star of that iconic series, will present Herron with his award.
The black-tie gala will feature music by Tim Simonec and the Elliot Deutsch Big Band Orchestra with featured vocalists JK Simmons, Janene Lovullo and Avery Sommers.