Evel Knievel, an American icon of the '70s
"Evel" Knievel (Robert Craig Knievel, jr), 1938-2007, was an American stuntman who peaked in popularity in the 1970s. In fact, it was a phenomenon of popularity that lasts until today due to the record-breaking jumps it carried out, but also to the brutal collection of fractures it suffered and, above all, to a marketing that popularized and therefore valued everything it did. He had a troubled life, committed minor crimes, was a soldier, motocross racer (without great success), insurance salesman, HONDA dealership, until, inspired by Joie Chitwood's car stunt show, he decided to produce his own motorcycle stunt show.
Alone he made the party and threw the rockets.
He put together the show, promoted it, sold the tickets, wrote and disseminated a press release and made a jump of about 6.10 m with the condiment of the same being over 2 cages (one with snakes and the other with two mountain lions ).
Despite having just landed, hitting the snakes' cage, he came out of this adventure unscathed.
At this point he realized that if he wanted to make a living this way he would have to create a team to help him and leave him free time to prepare the jumps.
He looked for his first sponsor and ended up reaching an agreement with Bob Blair from ZDS MOTORS, thus EVEL KNIEVEL AND HIS MOTORCYCLE DAREDEVILS was born.
On January 3, 1966, Knievel performed his first professional performance in Indio, California, the show was a great success and from then on, contracts began to pour in for performances. One of the images that set him apart from other stuntmen was the fact that he started jumping on cars. It also began, from the beginning, a long ordeal of fractures that, when public knowledge, proved to be powerful marketing weapons. His popularity soared, in national terms, when he was invited to the actor Joey Bishop's program (THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW). Eventually his most popular jumps were Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (almost fatal to him) and Snake River Canyon (this was attempted, but failed, on a purpose-built rocket).
The injuries he suffered throughout his career, 433 broken bones that earned him the right to be featured in the GUINNESS Book of World Records, are an indelible part of his image. CINEMA The 1977 film VIVA KNIEVEL, starring Knievel himself and Gene Kelly, also boosted his popularity.
In 2004, George Eads starred in the biopic (directed by John Badham) EVEL KNIEVEL. In 2015, the documentary BEING EVEL was produced (by the HISTORIA channel).
The amount of derivative products (merchandising), marketed with Knievel's image, is brutal. Among them are many toys for children. The IDEAL TOY COMPANY alone, between 1972 and 1977, made 125 million dollars in EVEL KNIEVEL toys. Toys, masks, beer, costumes, lunch boxes, comics, etc... are part of this wide range.