On this day in 1986, Dar Robinson died while filming a routine stunt on the set of “Million Dollar Mystery” in Page, Arizona. One of the greatest stuntmen in movie history was 39 years old.
When you watch a movie or a television show and you see an overhead shot of a character falling from a building, you can thank Robinson (If you can’t tell the difference between blue screens and CGI, bless your heart.). He invented the decelerator, which allowed wire cable to slow a fall instead of the traditional airbag. It freed filmmakers and stuntmen to be much more creative in how they filmed those type of stunts.
Robinson’s work was featured in many memorable movies, including “Lethal Weapon” (dedicated to his memory), “Magnum Force”, “Stick” and “Papillon”. In 1979, Robinson fell 700 feet from Toronto’s CN Tower in the movie, “Highpoint” (video below).
On the set of “Million Dollar Mystery”, Robinson was performing a high-speed motorcycle drive-by in front of a camera. He didn’t brake in time and went straight off a cliff to his death.
In 1995, he received a posthumous honorary Academy Award for his work.