Foyt made Knievel part of his pit crew for the Indianapolis in Evel Knievel's huge fame caused him to start traveling with a bodyguard, Boots Curtis, who became a long-time friend. Burck of Marvin Glass and Associates. After the release of the Stunt Cycle, the Knievel toys were the best selling item for Ideal. During the next four years, Ideal Toys released various models relating to Evel Knievel's touring stunt show.
The series, inspired by his popularity, featured stunt motorcyclists. In , Bally marketed its Knievel pinball machine as the "first fully electronic commercial game"; it has elsewhere been described as one of the "last of the classic pre-digital games.
The electromechanical version is extremely rare, with only made. Knievel made several television appearances, including frequently as a guest on talk shows such as Dinah! In , Evel made a guest spot on The Bionic Woman , where he played himself, getting inadvertently caught up in East German espionage while appearing in West Germany. Actual footage from Evel's L. Coliseum jump over crushed cars was used in the beginning of the episode, and an indoor jump over 11 cars and 1 van was used at the end of the show. Also in , Warner Bros. Similar to The Bionic Woman, actual footage from the Wembley jump was used in the movie.
In addition, the children's TV series Hilltop Hospital featured a character based on Knievel called Weasel Kneasel, who was the focus of an episode of the same name. While Knievel was healing from his most recent round of injuries, the book Evel Knievel on Tour was released.
Written by Knievel's promoter for the Snake River Canyon jump, Shelly Saltman , the book painted an unflattering picture of Knievel's character, alleging that he abused his wife and kids and used drugs. Outside the studio commissary, one of Knievel's friends grabbed Saltman and held him, while Knievel attacked him with an aluminum baseball bat , declaring, "I'm going to kill you!
Saltman's arm and wrist were shattered in several places before he fell to the ground unconscious. It took numerous surgeries and permanent metal plates in his arm for Saltman to regain the use of his arm. Saltman's book was withdrawn by the publisher after Knievel threatened to sue. Saltman later produced documents in both criminal and civil court that proved that, although Knievel claimed to have been insulted by statements in Saltman's book, he and his lawyers had actually been given editorial access to the book and had approved and signed off on every word prior to its publication.
On October 14, , Knievel pleaded guilty to battery and was sentenced to three years' probation and six months in county jail, during which he publicly flaunted his brief incarceration for the press. After the assault of Saltman and time served in jail, Knievel lost most marketing endorsements and deals, including Harley-Davidson and Ideal Toys. With no income from jumping or sponsorship, Knievel was eventually declared bankrupt. Knievel was married twice. He and his wife Linda were married for 38 years. During their marriage, the couple had four children, two boys, Kelly and Robbie , and two girls, Tracey and Alicia.
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Throughout Kelly's and Robbie's adolescence, the boys performed at Knievel's stunt shows. Robbie Knievel continued into adulthood to perform as a professional motorcycle daredevil. After Evel's death, Kelly has overseen the Knievel legacy, including developing Knievel-related products and assisting Harley-Davidson to develop a museum exhibit.
Linda and Evel separated in the early s and were divorced in In , Knievel married his girlfriend, Krystal Kennedy of Clearwater, Florida, whom he began dating in Long-time friend Engelbert Humperdinck sent a recorded tribute to the couple. The couple were married for two years, divorcing in Following the divorce, Krystal Knievel was granted a restraining order against him.
During the s, Knievel would drive around the country in a recreational vehicle , selling works of art allegedly painted by him. During the same year, Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Knievel once dreamed of housing all of his career memorabilia in an Evel Knievel Museum to be located in his home state of Montana. Those dreams were unfulfilled, and his artifacts are spread throughout transportation museums and private collections around the world.
Knievel's original blueprints and handwritten notes about his desired museum are currently displayed at the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum in downtown Miami, Oklahoma. On October 9, , Knievel promoted his last public "motorcycle ride" at the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson dealership. The ride was to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although he was originally scheduled to lead a benefit ride through Milwaukee, Knievel never rode the motorcycle because he suffered a mild non-debilitating stroke prior to the appearance and limited his visit to a signing session.
In , Knievel signed over exclusive rights to Los Angeles composer Jef Bek, authorizing the production of a rock opera based on Knievel's life.
Knievel had partnered with Six Flags St. Louis to name a new wooden coaster after "America's Legendary Daredevil".
The amusement park in Eureka, Missouri , outside of St. Louis, Missouri , opened the ride on June 20, In the late s, Knievel was in need of a life-saving liver transplant as a result of suffering the long-term effects from Hepatitis C. He contracted the disease after one of the numerous blood transfusions he received prior to In February , Knievel was given only a few days to live and he requested to leave the hospital and die at his home. En route to his home, Knievel received a phone call from the hospital stating a young man had died in a motorcycle accident and could be a donor.
Days later, Knievel received the transplant. In , he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis , an incurable and terminal lung disease that required him to be on supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day. In , he had an internal morphine pain pump surgically implanted to help him with the excruciating pain in his deteriorated lower back, one of the costs of incurring so many traumas over the course of his career as a daredevil.
He also had two strokes after , but neither left him with severe debilitation. The following day, he appeared on stage with his son Robbie at Evel Knievel Days in Butte, marking the last performance the two would appear together. Robbie jumped feet in a tribute to his father. The minute program Richard Hammond Meets Evel Knievel aired on December 23, , less than a month after his death. The documentary was filmed in July around the annual "Evel Knievel Days" festival in his old home town of Butte.
Knievel was in severely declining health, but he still displayed the same spirit and showmanship that had driven his career. On April 1, , Knievel appeared on Robert H. Schuller 's television program Hour of Power and announced that he "believed in Jesus Christ " for the first time. Knievel's televised testimony triggered mass baptisms at the Crystal Cathedral. Knievel died in Clearwater, Florida , on November 30, , aged He had been suffering from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis for many years.
The friend said, "It's been coming for years, but you just don't expect it. Superman just doesn't die, right? In one of his last interviews, Knievel told Maxim magazine:.
You can't ask a guy like me why I performed. I really wanted to fly through the air. I was a daredevil, a performer.
I loved the thrill, the money, the whole macho thing. All those things made me Evel Knievel. Sure, I was scared. You gotta be an ass not to be scared.
But I beat the hell out of death. I'm gonna crash," and there's nothing you can do to stop it, not at all.
Robert H. Schuller with actor Matthew McConaughey giving the eulogy. Prior to the Monday service, fireworks exploded in the Butte night sky as pallbearers carried Knievel's casket into the center. The exhibit was opened in collaboration with Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and Evel's oldest son, Kelly. Among the various artifacts from Knievel's life, the exhibit included his "Shark Jump" Harley-Davidson XR, the Skycycle X-2, a blue jumpsuit from late in his career without any sponsor patches, and his trademark "red, white and blue" jumpsuit complete with his helmet and walking stick.
Evel Knievel merchandising, personal artifacts, and X-rays from his injuries were also exhibited. Braun cited Knievel as an inspiration, and wanted to show that Knievel's jump would have been successful had the parachute not deployed too early. Braun stated that he was "finishing out [the] dream" of his hero, Knievel.
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Featuring his motorcycles, leathers, helmets, wardrobe and jewelry along with various displays and a virtual reality motorcycle jump. He was riding a Roland Sands Design-prepared pound Indian Scout FTR, and dressed in a full Evel Knievel getup, down to wearing vintage-style appearing dress boots from Bates, the manufacturer that had made Evel's.