Knievel’s critical leap in the spotlight to be a Jaws-inspired gimmick the would help spawn the expression “jumping the shark,” implying that somebody’s or something’s ideal days room behind them.

You are watching: Evel knievel how did he die

Knievel’s last leap in the spotlight to be a Jaws-inspired gimmick that would aid spawn the expression “jumping the shark,” implying the somebody’s or something’s best days space behind them.

Daredevil motorcyclist Evel Knievel, the godfather of extreme sports, struggled for lot of his career through an interior conflict: staying rich and also famous versus continuing to be alive.

If his legacy can be rewritten, his successful, record-breaking run at Ohio’s kings Island amusement park in October 1975—over 14 Greyhound buses and also 133 feet—would have actually been a an ext dignified orgasm to his legendary career together a daredevil.

“I really wanted to battered then. It was the very first jump that ns made that did well where i thought, ‘Yeah, I could hang it up—I did this.’ yet of course, i went on from there,” said the stunt star (whose real name was Robert Craig Knievel) in Stuart Barker’s book Life of Evel.

Instead, Knievel’s last leap in the spotlight was a Jaws-inspired gimmick that would certainly help—along v the Fonz—spawn the phrase “jumping the shark,” implying the somebody’s or something’s ideal days are behind them.

The problem for Knievel was that his dramatic crashes to be what elevated him to his standing as the world’s greatest stuntman.

See more: Rare Great White Sharks In Panama City Beach, Florida, Shark Sightings In Panama City Beach

READ MORE: What room the many Insanely Daring Stunts since Evel Knievel? 


Evel Knievel peering with a shark’s jaw in a promotion headshot portrait because that his tv special, ‘Evel Knievel’s fatality Defiers,’ 1977. (Credit: CBS photograph Archive/Getty Images)

“His fame had tiny to perform with the stunts he successfully pulled off and also everything to execute with the epos failures and wipeouts,” claims Barker. “Besides…what else would he have actually done? Not only would he have actually missed the adrenaline sirloin of act what he did, he’d have actually missed being in the limelight even more.”

The 38-year-old Knievel may have actually been on the downside of his career prior to his check leap end “the world’s biggest indoor saltwater pool, which will certainly be filled through man-eating killer sharks,” as the press release read. However he was still a significant star when CBS approached him around a brand-new live, primetime series to be dubbed “Evel Knievel’s fatality Defiers.” His jump, to take place at the Chicago worldwide Amphitheatre top top January 31, 1977, would certainly be the main event of the much-hyped pilot episode that would likewise include other daredevil acts.

While Knievel and the show’s promoters played up the dangerous elements of the jump, in the end, the distance to clear the tank was only 64 feet, which because that Knievel was not a challenge. The sharks would also pose small threat. Jerry Clay, the male in fee of offering them for the show, called The brand-new York Times one week prior to the event: “If he should loss in, he’d spook those animals right the end of the pool.” Clay remained in Florida round off up lemon and also blue sharks, none the resembled the villainous good White in Jaws.