Robert Craig Knievel was born in Butte, Montana on Oct. 17, 1938. At the age of eight, he was the Joey Chitwood daredevel show, and he decided what he wanted to do with his life.
Thru his teenage years and into adulthood, Knievel was into everything. He earned awards in ski jumping and ice hockey during high school. He admitted to having been a swindler, a car thief, a safe cracker, a holdup man. He served in the Army. He formed a semi-pro hockey team and was the owner, the coach, and a player. He worked in the copper mines, sold insurance, operated a hunting guide business, and opened a Honda Motorcycle Dealership.
But, Robert Craig Knievel was a stuntman and entertainer. Billing himself as Evel Knievel, he drew crowds. He began a solo touring trip in 1966 charging promoters $500 to jump two cars. By 1968, he had gained national recognition by steadily increasing the distance of the jumps. For New Years 1968, he announced he would jump the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He successfully completed the 151 foot jump but the landing went bad. He was in a coma in a hospital for a month after the crash.
At Wembley Stadium in London, he crashed while attempting to jump 13 double decker buses suffering a broken pelvis. When he couldn't secure the permits to jump the Grand Canyon, he moved his plans to the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. He attempted the jump on Sept. 8, 1974 in his rocket powered "skycycle". A parachute malfunction at take-off doomed the attempt, and he landed in the canyon.
On Oct. 25, 1975, Knievel jumped 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island in Ohio. In 1976, he attempted to jump a tank of sharks in the Chicago Amphitheatre. He crashed breaking both arms and suffering a concussion. While recuppurating from his injuries, he elected to retire although he toured for a while performing with his stunt performing son, Robbie.
On Friday, after a long struggle with Hepatitis C, a liver transplant in 1999, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, and two strokes, Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel died at his condominium in Clearwater, Florida after having breathing difficulty. He was 69 years old.