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The Stunt Men and Women



(From Old Corral image collection)
Dale Van Sickel

Real name: Dale Harris Van Sickel

1907 - 1977


Prolific Republic stuntman and stunt coordinator.  After the B western and serials faded away, he continued working in TV and motion pictures, and can be seen in TV's SUPERMAN, WILD WILD WEST, more.

Was the founder, and first President, of the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures. Van Sickel was the first All American football player at the University of Florida in the late 1920s, and was the first University of Florida player inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame. His football playing at Florida was as an end during 1927-1929.

The College Football Hall of Fame (website below) profile on Van Sickel notes that (italics added): He was born in Eatonton, Georgia; following graduation, he joined the staff at Florida, serving as an assistant in football and basketball for the 1930 and 1931 seasons; and he died of injuries in 1977.

In the heyday of the cliffhanger and western, Van Sickel was one of the most frequently used stuntman at Republic Pictures. He was good in fist fights and could handle a car, and frequently appeared in front of the camera as a heavy.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Dale Van Sickel: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0887975/

The Hickok Sports site includes a mention of Van Sickel's All American status for 1929. Go to this webpage and look under the player's section marked Ends: http://www.hickoksports.com/history/collfhof.shtml#playersuv

Info on Van Sickel's enshrinement at the College Football Hall of Fame is at: http://www.footballfoundation.org/Programs/CollegeFootballHallofFame/SearchDetail.aspx?id=20069

The CBS Sportsline website has Van Sickel listed in the Hall of Fame (alphabetical list - listed under V not S): http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegefootball/history/halloffame/S-Z


Pop the KING OF THE ROCKETMEN (Republic, 1949) serial into your VCR and you'll see Dale Van Sickel (as Martin), Tom Steele (as Knox) and Dave Sharpe (as Blears) doing work as 'heavies' ... and then work the pause, rewind and play buttons to see if you can spot who's doing what stunts, and who's doublin' for Tris Coffin in the 'Rocketman' suit.


 

Tom Steele

Real name: Thomas Skeoch

1907 or 1909 - 1990


Dave Sharpe was the stunt coordinator and boss ('ramrod') of the stunt organization at Republic from about 1939 until mid 1942 when he left for World War II service.

Assuming Sharpe's ramrod duties at Republic was Scottish born Tom Steele.  Steele was also the only stuntman that Republic signed to a term contract(s), and that arrangement ran from June, 1943 through June, 1944 and included a 40 week pay commitment.  This was during the period when Steele was behind the mask doing the hero work in THE MASKED MARVEL (Republic, 1943) serial.

My recollection is that Steele concentrated more of his time and energy toward the Republic cliffhanger, and left the western stunts/doubling to guys like Joe Yrigoyen (who doubled Roy Rogers).

In westerns and serials, there were multiple stunt men handling the chores. For example, in KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS (Republic, 1941), Tom Steele is the double for football legend Slingin' Sammy Baugh. However, Dave Sharpe doubles Baugh in several of the more spectacular stunts such as a couple of flying leaps, the speedboat transfer, and the slide down that long wire from one of the derricks. Sharpe also subs for Duncan Renaldo in the fights.

Steele's last stuntwork credit appears to be in the John Belushi/Dan Ackroyd THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980).

Before signing on with Republic, Steele worked in a lot of films - for example, he was Jack Randall's double/stuntman in Randall's Monogram westerns.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Tom Steele: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0824685/


(From Old Corral image collection)


(Courtesy of Bobby J. Copeland)

Above from L-to-R are Tom Steele, Bobby Copeland and Walter Reed, circa 1988.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Eleanor Hansen, Tom Steele, Johnny Mack Brown, Ed Cassidy, William Royle, Charles Stevens and James Blaine in a scene from the cliffhanger FLAMING FRONTIERS (Universal, 1938).



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