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The Stunt Men and Women

(From Old Corral collection)
Dale Van Sickel

Full name: Dale Harris Van Sickel

1907 - 1977

Prolific Republic stuntman and stunt coordinator Dale Van Sickel was born in Eatonton, Georgia, but raised in Gainesville, Georgia.

Van Sickel was the first All American football player at the University of Florida and was the first University of Florida player inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame. At Florida, he played both offensive and defensive end during 1926 - 1929.

In the heyday of the cliffhanger and western, Van Sickel was one of the most frequently used stuntman at Republic Pictures. He was good in fist fights and could handle a car, and frequently appeared in front of the camera as a heavy. After the B western and serials faded away, he continued working in TV and motion pictures, and can be seen in TV's SUPERMAN, WILD WILD WEST, lots more.

Was the founder - and first President - of the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures.

Van Sickel passed away on January 25, 1977 in Newport Beach, California. From the AP syndicated newspaper death notice:

"... had been seriously ill since July 1975 when he was injured while filming an attempted stunt. The car he was driving, supposed to go off the end of a wharf, skidded into an abutment. Doctors said Van Sickel suffered brain damage. A lawsuit is pending."

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Dale Van Sickel:

Van Sickel attended the University of Florida in 1927 - 1929, and was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975:

Van Sickel is also enshrined in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Dale Van Sickel who is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, California:

Neil Summers has a profile on Van Sickel at Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website:

Late 1920s photo of Dale Van Sickel in his football uniform at the University of Florida website:

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Clayton Moore battles Dale Van Sickel in the 12 chapter GHOST OF ZORRO (Republic, 1949).

Pop the KING OF THE ROCKETMEN (Republic, 1949) serial into your DVD player and you'll see Dale Van Sickel (as Martin), Tom Steele (as Knox) and Dave Sharpe (as Blears) portraying 'heavies' ... and then work the pause, rewind and play buttons to see if you can spot who's doing what stunts, and who's doublin' for Tris Coffin in the 'Rocketman' suit.


Tom Steele

Real name: Thomas Skeoch

1907 or 1909 - 1990

Dave Sharpe was the stunt coordinator and boss ('ramrod') of the stunt organization at Republic from about 1939 until mid 1942 when he left for World War II service.

Assuming Sharpe's ramrod duties at Republic was Scottish born Tom Steele.  Steele was also the only stuntman that Republic signed to a term contract(s), and that arrangement ran from June, 1943 through June, 1944 and included a 40 week pay commitment.  This was during the period when Steele was behind the mask doing the hero work in THE MASKED MARVEL (Republic, 1943) serial.

My recollection is that Steele concentrated more of his time and energy toward the Republic cliffhanger, and left the western stunts/doubling to guys like Joe Yrigoyen (who doubled Roy Rogers).

In westerns and serials, there were multiple stunt men handling the chores. For example, in KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS (Republic, 1941), Tom Steele is the double for football legend Slingin' Sammy Baugh. However, Dave Sharpe doubles Baugh in several of the more spectacular stunts such as a couple of flying leaps, the speedboat transfer, and the slide down that long wire from one of the derricks. Sharpe also subs for Duncan Renaldo in the fights.

Steele's last stuntwork credit appears to be in the John Belushi / Dan Ackroyd THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980).

Before signing on with Republic, Steele worked in a lot of films - for example, he was Jack Randall's double / stuntman in Randall's Monogram westerns.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Tom Steele:

Neil Summers has a profile on Tom Steele at Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website:

(From Old Corral collection)

(Courtesy of Bobby J. Copeland)

L-to-R are Tom Steele, Bobby Copeland and Walter Reed circa 1988.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

L-to-R are Eleanor Hansen, Tom Steele, Johnny Mack Brown, Ed Cassidy, William Royle, Charles Stevens and James Blaine in a scene from the cliffhanger FLAMING FRONTIERS (Universal, 1938).

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