By Emily Brickler
If you have been following these articles, you will remember that I was writing about the amazing Loren Janes in last week’s paper. Loren Janes was a Hollywood stuntman and stunt double for some of our most famous stars. Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen were all stars he stood in for. He was even a stunt double for the late Debbie Reynolds in the movie “How the West Was Won.” He had to wrap himself in a blanket and jump off a moving train and onto a cactus.
When a director came to Janes with a stunt that they wanted him to do, it was up to Janes to figure out how to do it without getting hurt! Moreover, while many of the stunt artists working in Hollywood have a reputation for being a bit wild, Janes was just the opposite. He would spend days trying to figure out how to do a stunt.
Janes was credited with improved safety features in the stunt industry, and was one of the key figures in the development of modern cinematic stunt design, often going above and beyond to ensure the safety of a stunt. Apparently he was good at it because he never broke a bone in his entire body!
Later in his life, Janes would give talks and lectures on his career and stunt work in the movies, and he would often talk about the selfless nature that a stunt double has to possess. Stunt doubles assume all of the risk and none of the glory, and it takes a certain kind of person to be satisfied with that kind of work.
Loren Janes co-founded the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures & Television and received the Stuntmen Association’s lifetime achievement award for work in westerns: The Golden Boot. I was blessed with the opportunity to meet him and hear him speak about 15 years ago, and he was truly a remarkable individual. Loren Janes passed away in June of 2017 at the age of 85. He outlived most of the actors he protected from dangerous situations.
Art Matters is a weekly column sponsored by Leach Theatre, a division of Student Affairs, on the campus of Missouri S&T, and produced by Emily Brickler, Managing Director of the theatre and ten-year veteran teacher with a Masters of Art in Teaching from Webster University.