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Vol. 4 - No.10 October, 2022 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
He Learned His Craft
Diving From Area Piers
Let's travel back in time to 1986. This article was written about our very own Reel Cowboy, Lee Diebold, by Kimberly Durment, and published on August 13th, 1986 in the Gardena Tribune Newspaper.

Stuntman Lee Diebold of Gardena, facing the camera,
rehearses a scene with fellow stunt actor, Lance Victor.
Diebold was a stuntman for the horror film. "Terror on
Alcatraz," which is to be released later this month.
Long before Lee Diebold of Gardena got his big break doing stunts at the Corriganville Movie Ranch in Simi Valley, California, he was busy learning his craft by diving from South Bay area piers.

Now a professional stuntman, Diebold, 49, recently finished work on "Terror on Alcatraz," a horror film die for release later this month. In the film, Diebold takes a backward fall from a three-story building, a stunt he choreographed himself.

Although the chance for injury is always present, he said he has suffered only a few cuts and bruises in his career, which has spanned some 20 years.

An advocate of stunt safety, Diebold has lectured on the subject at UCLA. "Be safe in every stunt you do," he advises. "That's one of the greatest assets a stuntman can have. Doing stunts isn't something you learn overnight."

It's for certain Diebold is not newcomer to the industry. Fascinated with the stunts done by such old-time cowboys as Lash Larue and Sunset Carson, Diebold began practicing to be a stuntman by diving off piers when he was about 8 year old. When pier diving was outlawed in the late 1940s or early '50s, he was forced to find other ways to practice stunts.

As one point, he and a group of friends formed a stunt team, putting on shows throughout the South Bay.

"We just did it for fun," said Diebold, recalling one act in which team members, pretending to be painters, fell from a ladder into a tub of water.

A short time later, he met guitar picker Charlie Aldridge, who also happened to work as a stunt coordinator for the Corriganville Ranch. When Diebold told Aldridge of his desire to learn the business, Aldridge told him to come see him at the ranch when he turned 21.

Diebold did just that, performing stunts at the ranch three times a day in exchange for a grilled cheese sandwich.

In 1967, when the ranch was destroyed by fire, he was forced to work in fields unrelated to his career. "But," said Diebold, "the spark never went out."

He kept the spark alive by teaming up with his twin brother, Larry, and forming an act called The Equalizers. Larry, an experienced marksman, demonstrated his sharpshooting abilities while Lee did such specialty stunts as leaping from speeding cars and doing rope tricks before audiences at school assemblies.

When the tea, split up, Diebold kept his stunt abilities intact by joining the Congress of Rough Riders, a stunt team which performed at rodeos and fairs. The group was a spin-off of "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show."

"As time went on," said Diebold, "I was pretty versed in various stunts." Although he has learned to do a variety of stunts, including stair falls, mid-air transfers from most vehicles, and rope pulls, he said fist fights have a certain mystique to them.

"There has to be a certain continuity and spontaneity. Staging a fight scene for any kind of movie is a thrill to me," he said.

Perhaps the most complicated stunt Diebold ever performed was a one-arm hang form a helicopter where he got shot in the back and fell 225 feet into the bay of Ports O' Call at 125 miles per hour. "When you hit the water at that speed, it's like getting hit with a two-by-four," he said.

The stunt originally was intended for the television show Thrillseekers. However, just before Diebold was ready to do it, the show got it's cancellation notice.

"It didn't deter me, but made me mad," he said. "And the madder I got, the more forward I got."

He got in touch broadcast journalist, Ray Duncan, who was doing specialty segments for "The Sunday Show" and told Duncan about the high fall stunt he had intended to do for Thrillseekers.

When Duncan offered to help him get the stunt done, Diebold promised him exclusive rights to film it. At about the same time, he found a sponsor for the stunt.

Although it was too late to get the stunt entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the "highest free-fall ever recorded," because dangerous stunts were no longer accepted. Diebold was satisfied that after several years of planning, the stunt was finally done.

Diebold recently has spent a good portion of his time working on a movie for television, which features performances by handicapped children.

In the film, which is yet untitled, Diebold performs as well as choreographs a variety of stunts ranging from horse falls to rope pulls and barn fights. It includes cameo appearances by Aldo Ray, Bo Hopkins, and John Ritter.

In addition to his memberships in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame, he also is on the Board of Directors of a newly formed guild for stunt actors, called the National Association of Stunt Actors (NASA). Diebold said it differs from other stunt guilds in that it is open to all stunt people regardless of their sex or race. "Existing guilds are strictly open to either men, women, or the specific ethnic groups," he said.
Written by Kimberly Durment of the Gardena Tribune Newspaper in 1986.
A note from 2022: Here are some pictures of Lee Diebold at work.
A note from 2022: Here are some pictures of awards he has won.
Call 818-395-5020 for more information
click on the image for a larger version
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