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Biography
A man who ultimately attained a reputation as the most accomplished "stunt" motorcycle rider of the late 20th century, Evel Knievel was born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, MT, in 1938. He gravitated toward motorcycle-riding as a teenager, and soon developed an affinity for doing tricks on his cycle. Also during his adolescent years, Knievel took to athletics, excelled in ski-jumping, and played for a short period of time on the Charlotte Clippers team of the Eastern Hockey League. Knievel's enduring claim to fame lay in the arena of motorcycle-jumping, however, and he earned the moniker "Evel" for his extreme, death-defying cycle feats -- which found him soaring from a ramp over parked automobiles with jumps that reached a distance of 45 feet or more. At least two major incidents cut short Knievel's career, one in 1968 (when he gravely injured himself attempting to jump over fountains at a hotel in Las Vegas) and one in 1975, when he broke his pelvis in an ill-advised attempt to leap over 13 buses at Wembley Stadium. In later years, Knievel's son Robbie inherited the career of his father, and reportedly set records that Evel was unable to make. The elder Knievel died at age 69, of complications from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, in late November 2007. Knievel made an unsuccessful attempt to launch himself as a big-screen action hero with the outing Viva Knievel! (1977), directed by Gordon M. Douglas and co-starring Gene Kelly. It was critically panned but subsequently attained a following as a camp classic. He also participated in a number of documentaries about his own exploits.

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