Hollywood Stuntman Gary Kent Who Inspired Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Dies at 89

Hollywood Stuntman Gary Kent Who Inspired Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Dies at 89
@Gary Kent in Satan's Sadists. 

Legendary Hollywood stuntman Gary Kent died Thursday at an assisted care facility in Austin, Texas. The actor and director, who was 89, began his half-century career by appearing in many B-films over the years, including Battle Flame (1959), The Black Klansman (1966), and The Savage Seven (1968). He was born in Walla Walla, Washington.

His under-the-radar career is credited in part with inspiring the character of stuntman Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In real life, Kent had met the Charles Manson family at Spahn ranch during the 1960s. Brad Pitt played the role of Booth in that 2019 film.

One of Kent’s most memorable appearances was as a stunt double for Bruce Dern in Psych-Out, a film directed by Richard Rush that has since become a cult classic. During the 1970s, the golden age of exploitation movies, Kent also appeared as a stuntman in such offbeat thrillers as The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant and Hell’s Bloody Devils. In 1976, the versatile actor wrote and directed a thriller of his own, The Pyramid. He also appeared in television shows such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Green Hornet.

Kent suffered a leg injury while coordinating stunts for the 2002 film Bubba Ho-Tep, prompting his retirement as a stuntman, but he continued appearing as an actor in various bit roles.

The year 2009 saw the publication of Shadows & Light: Journeys With Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood. Reflecting on his long career, Kent told a reporter for the Austin Chronicle in 2018:

“CGI [computer-generated imagery] really changed things. I just did a film working as a stunt coordinator, and they didn’t have the money to hire stuntmen. They had some fights in the script, so I asked the actors if any of them had done stunts before. They all raised their hands, but none of them had really done stunts before. Maybe they threw a glass of water or something, but a stunt is rolling cars or doing high falls. It’s challenging. Nowadays every actor thinks they’re a stuntman.”

Gary Kent is survived by six children and four grandchildren. As a last stunt of sorts, his ashes will be scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

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