Bill Hart, Stuntman Sent Flying on 'The Wild Bunch,' Dies at 80

Courtesy of Kim Hart
Hart (left) with Johnny Cash on a 1993 episode of 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.'

A famed stuntman from a family of stuntmen, he doubled for Glenn Ford for decades

Bill Hart, a rugged actor and stuntman who specialized in Western action films like The Wild Bunch and doubled for Glenn Ford for more than two decades, has died. He was 80.

Hart, often seen as a renegade, hood, barfly or brawler on more than 150 movies and TV shows during his long career, died Friday after a short battle with cancer at his home in Northridge, Calif., his daughter Kim told The Hollywood Reporter.

The stunt business runs through the Hart family blood. His son, Jimmy Hart, is a Hollywood veteran who most recently worked on Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Another son, Chuck Hart, was a stuntman who died of illness in 2010. And his father-in-law was Chuck Roberson, who like Bill Hart is a member of the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame.

Bill Hart first stepped in for Ford on Day of the Evil Gun (1968) and remained his primary stunt double on such films as Heaven With a Gun (1969), Santee (1973), Border Shootout (1990) and the 1971-72 CBS series Cade's County, on which he also served as stunt coordinator.

Hart played one of the Robert Ryan gang who famously was blown off a wooden bridge blasted by real dynamite in Sam Peckinpah's classic 1969 Western The Wild Bunch. He also had a role and did stunts for the director in The Getaway (1972).

Hart played football at Edinburg High School in Texas, served with the U.S. Marines in Korea and came to Hollywood in 1958. He soon was doing stunt work in the John Wayne films The Alamo (1960), The Comancheros (1961) and McLintock! (1963).

During this period, Hart was playing Lorenzo "Red" Smith and serving as the stunt coordinator on Jack Lord's ABC rodeo series Stoney Burke.

Hart also performed stunts in Gunsmoke, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Bonanza, The Big Valley, Burke's Law, Honey West and The Rockford Files and on such films as The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) and Lethal Weapon 3 (1992).

In addition to Kim and Jimmy, survivors include his wife, Rina, brothers Jack, Tillmin and Othell, daughter Theda and grandchildren Allan, Melissa, Danica and Jake.

Services will be held at noon on Monday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4