Sunday, November 30, 2008

Evel Dead III: Army of Darkness

It was one year ago today that Evel Knievel died. Here's what's happened since.

For a guy who supposedly lived like a king, his finances were a disaster. At the time of his death, an outstanding liability to Evel's beating victim Sheldon Saltman had reached an estimated $64 million, while another $5 million forgery and breach-of-contract claim was being sought by R. Gary Schreiber, the guy who financed Evel's phony painting career. However, Evel's assets amounted to a measly $12,500, all of which he left to second wife Krystal Kennedy-Knievel (they divorced in 2002, yet remained a couple 'til his death, and she is generally considered his "widow"). Nothing was left to his four children, ten grandchildren, or great-grandchild, and it's unlikely that Saltman or Schreiber will get anything either, as Evel's estate has no financial incentive to promote his image.

Less than a year after burying Evel, Krystal reportedly married a Butte bartender, and is currently auctioning off many of her inherited items. It's mostly clothing and household stuff from their motorhome, but there's also a pair of breathing machines, an oxygen tote bag ("with accessories and hose"), purple crutches, a back brace ("worn after his last back fusion surgery"), a glucose monitoring system, a stethoscope, sunglasses ("some broken"), an electric shaver, a hairbrush, and a case of Evel Knievel hot sauce. Item I'd most want: "Large box of Evel Knievel fan mail -- mostly unopened."

Krystal recently denied knowledge that Evel had been investigated by the FBI, even though he wrote about it in his 1999 autobiography, Evel Ways: "I got a lot of help from the so-called Chicago mob... the FBI investigated my friendship with (Joey) Lombardo, (Tony) Accardo and (Jackie) Cerone." According to Evel's 290-page FBI file, made public in October, investigators believed he was involved in various threats and beatings carried out by his associates in San Francisco and Kansas City during the '70s. The feds supposedly came close to charging Evel, to which Evel threatened with a countersuit, though neither sides followed through.

On a lighter note, a couple of projects planned before his death came to fruition: a creepy wax figure was unveiled at Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas, and the Evel Knievel roller coaster opened at Six Flags St. Louis.

The Knievel spoofs continue apace, faster than I've been able to update my Knievel Comedy page, including Sweet Johnny, a daredevil played by David Arquette on a recent My Name is Earl, Johnny Vegas, a BBC promotional character, and Jackass Johnny Knoxville, who suffered a torn urethra while playing Evel as host of Mat Hoffman's Tribute to Evel Knievel... In the upcoming movie Bedtime Stories, Adam Sandler plays a chariot driver in ancient Rome who jumps ramp-to-ramp over a line of elephants (trailer)... A SkyCycle flugtag crashed into the River Thames (video)... Another Evel (rock?) opera was staged, this time in Minnesota... In April, on David Letterman's "Top Ten Ways George W. Bush Can Improve His Approval Rating" list, number five was "Jump Snake River in rocket powered 'SkyCycle'" (number seven was "Change name to Barack W. Obusha")... Say, that reminds me -- did you hear the one about Ku Klux Knievel? It's a racist joke that made the rounds in the '70s, and a variation reared its ugly head in several of my Google "Knievel" news alerts during the recent presidential campaign. The updated punchline? "He's going to try to jump 2,000 Obama supporters with a steamroller." Then these jerks fleshed it out into a faux news story. Not funny, but I'd also not be doing my job if I didn't report it.

So, what's next? Robbie has safely done six jumping performances in the last year, and now the 46-year-old plans a New Year's Eve jump over an erupting "volcano" at the Mirage hotel/casino on the Vegas strip for a FOX TV special. Otherwise, I'm curious to see how that $5 million Schreiber suit plays out.

Final note: The occupation listed on Evel's death certificate? "Daredevil." And now he's with baby Jesus!



At 9:07 PM, December 08, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice update.



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