Gary Kent, stuntman who impressed Tarantino’s ‘As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood,’ dies at 89


Gary Kent, a celebrated B-list actor, director and stuntman, died Thursday at Onion Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Middle in Austin, Texas. He was 89.

Born June 7, 1933, in Walla Walla, Wash., Kent’s earliest movies embody 1959’s “Battle Flame.” He went on to behave in a number of movies the next decade — together with the 1964 horror flick “The Thrill Killers,” the unique “The Black Klansman” in 1966, and the 1968 biker movie “The Savage Seven.”

In 1969, he was the stunt double for Bruce Dern within the psychedelic cult basic “Psych-Out,” which starred Jack Nicholson and Susan Strasberg. In preparation for the movie, Kent went full methodology and dropped acid. He advised the Austin American-Statesman in 2018 that probably the most harmful stunt he’d ever carried out was on that individual set and no, it wasn’t the medicine.

“I needed to climb into this constructing and grasp by my arms on the sting of this glass dome at this previous artwork museum in L.A.,” he advised the outlet. “I needed to grasp by my arms and swing onto this balcony and due to the place the digital camera was, they couldn’t put any pads down. I barely made it.”

Different movies for which he carried out dangerous stunt work embody “Hells Angels on Wheels,” “A Man Referred to as Dagger,” “The Return of Rely Yorga,” and most not too long ago Don Coscarelli’s 2002 movie “Bubba Ho-Tep.” He retired from performing stunts in 2003 after breaking his leg whereas capturing.

“My first stunt was happening the cellar stairs and I broke my arm,” Kent mentioned within the 2018 documentary “Hazard God,” which follows his almost five-decade-long profession.

“I went down the steps on my tricycle, and the one one round was my sister Patty, and my mom mentioned, ‘You have been all the time that manner, that began your stunt profession.’”

Kent got here by it actually, from childhood by way of his teenage years. He knew that his moxie exceeded the norm.

“There was a bridge that went throughout Cedar River [in Washington] and there was a pipe railing on each side that individuals may maintain onto, and in the course of the winter that may freeze over,” he recalled within the documentary.

“It grew to become an enormous factor, summer season or winter: Who had the center to stroll throughout the bridge on that pipe? In fact a number of individuals did it, however I did it when it was frozen over.”

Appearing in a small theater in Corpus Christi, Texas, Kent fell in love with Joyce Peacock. Recent out of the Naval Air Corps, Kent married her in the identical city they met and collectively they raised three kids, Greg, Colleen and Andy. When Kent knew he needed to comply with his desires to Hollywood, he, Joyce and the children packed up their life and moved west.

Keen to interrupt into the movie trade, Kent spent all day working in a manufacturing workplace and attended small drama teams at evening, appearing in performs till 1 a.m.

“You wouldn’t receives a commission loads, however you’d all the time receives a commission, and it was great simply to get a job,” Kent recalled of his early days in present biz.

Though Kent’s ambition ultimately led to the demise of his first marriage, he stayed in Los Angeles for 40 years, and married and finally separated from “The Thrill Killers” actress Rosemary Gallegy, who glided by the stage identify Laura Benedict.

Similar to Cliff Sales space, Brad Pitt’s character in “As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” Kent had a run-in with Charles Manson and the “household” at Spahn Film Ranch. A dune buggy that manufacturing was utilizing as a digital camera automotive broke down on set, and Manson supplied to restore it, however requested for a $70 advance. Kent paid up, however Manson reneged on his finish of the deal till Kent threatened him.

“Charles received underneath the dune buggy and stuck it instantly,” Kent mentioned.

Based on Joe O’Connell, the filmmaker behind “Hazard God,” Quentin Tarantino interviewed Kent whereas engaged on the script for “As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Stuntman and director Hal Needham has additionally been famous as an inspiration for the character of Sales space.

Kent usually portrayed thugs, rapists, outlaws and scoundrels in his movies, however in line with those that labored carefully with him, his off-screen persona couldn’t be farther from such “unhealthy man” roles. O’Connell grew to become associates with the stuntman whereas filming his documentary, and so they remained shut for years. He advised The Occasions, “Gary is the man that guys needed to hang around with. And ladies needed to be close to. Whilst an previous man, he was simply nice. He simply radiated a pleasure of life.”

Within the Nineteen Seventies, Kent traveled to Dallas to direct a movie, however the funding fell by way of. He determined to remain anyway and went on to jot down and direct the dramatic 1976 movie “The Pyramid,” which was not too long ago included within the ebook “TCM Underground: 50 Should-See Movies From the World of Traditional Cult and Late-Evening Cinema.”

He married the late dancer-turned-actress Tomi Barrett, who acted in “The Pyramid,” in 1977. She succumbed to lung most cancers in 2005.

In 2009, Kent revealed a memoir, “Shadows & Gentle: Journeys With Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood,” detailing his colourful many years spent performing wild and high-risk stunts in cult classics and low-budget gems.

Towards the tip of Kent’s life, O’Connell often visited him at his nursing dwelling in Texas. And Sunday, Kent requested “puffy Cheetos and a Pepsi.” Forward of the go to, O’Connell posted on Fb asking followers and associates of Kent to go away messages within the feedback.

“And so I sat on that Sunday and skim all the great issues individuals have been saying about him,” O’Connell mentioned. “And I believe he loved it.”

On the finish of “Hazard God” Kent sat at a desk cluttered with papers and advised the digital camera, “If you wish to have a contented life, discover one thing you like and do it till you die.”


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