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The Reel Cowboys of Hollywood

In Memory of the Founder of the Reel Cowboys, Jack 'J.C.' Iversen
In Memory
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Lee Diebold
Vice-President of the Reel Cowboys
Lee Diebold - Vice-President of the Reel Cowboys

Gardena Stuntman
He Learned His Craft Diving From Area Piers
(Wednesday, August 13, 1986)
STUNTMAN Lee Diebold of Gardena, facing 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.
STUNTMAN Lee Diebold of Gardena, facing 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.
by Kimberly Durment (GVN Staff Writer)

Long before Lee Diebold of Gardena got his big break doing stunts at the Corriganville Movie Ranch in Simi Valley, 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 no 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 years old. When pier diving was outlawed in the late 1940s or early '50s, he was forced to find other ways to practice his stunts.

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

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

A short time later, he me 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 sharp-shooting abilities while Lee did such specialty stunts as leaping from speeding cars and doing rope tricks before audiences at school assemblies.

When the team split up, Diebold kept his stunt abilities intact by joining the Congress of Roughriders, a stunt team which performed at rodeos and fairs. The group was a spinoff 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 star falls, mid-air transfers from most vehicles, and rope pulls, he said his 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 from a helicopter where he got shot in the back and fell 225 feet into the bay at Ports O' Call at 125 miles per hour. "When you hit the water at that speed, it's like getting his 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 got it's cancellation notice.

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

He got in touch with 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 his 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 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 of 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.
 
Lee Diebold's 'Spirit of Johnny Carpenter' award
Lee Diebold's "Spirit of Johnny Carpenter" award
Lee Diebold's 'Spirit of Johnny Carpenter' award
Lee Diebold's "Spirit of Johnny Carpenter" award
 
Lee Diebold (left) with Lee Horsley (center) and Peter Portious Stuntman (right) in the thriller 'Dis Membered'
Lee Diebold (left) with Lee Horsley (center) and Peter Portious Stuntman (right) in the thriller "Dis Membered"
 
(right to left) Lee Diebold, Dale Park, Delmar Thomas, Johnny Carpenter, Brent Kirkland, and Kenn Hill
At the final location of 'Heaven on Earth Ranch'
(right to left) Lee Diebold, Dale Park, Delmar Thomas, Johnny Carpenter, Brent Kirkland, and Kenn Hill
At the final location of "Heaven on Earth Ranch"
 
Lee Diebold as the sheriff on break on the film 'Nine Kinds of Hell'
Lee Diebold as the sheriff on break on the film "Nine Kinds of Hell"
 
Lee Diebold taking a tumble in Hollywood Stunt Masters, 'The Power Fitness Schute' with Captain Action
Lee Diebold taking a tumble in Hollywood Stunt Masters, "The Power Fitness Schute" with Captain Action
 
Lee Diebold buldogging Clint Walker in Eastern Media's 'The Serpent Warriors'
Lee Diebold buldogging Clint Walker in Eastern Media's "The Serpent Warriors"
 
Lee Diebold (in the water) in Moab, Utah. The sequence is 'The Shakey Pete Gang' shot by KY Michaelson, Stunt Masters
Lee Diebold (in the water) in Moab, Utah. The sequence is "The Shakey Pete Gang" shot by KY Michaelson, Stunt Masters
 
Yakima Canutt Remembered
"Yakima Canutt Remembered"
The poster in the pictures was donated to the Screen Actors Guild by Lee Diebold, on
behalf of the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame at the second caucus, October 2rd, 1995.
The picture now hangs in the SAG building in Los Angeles in the James Cagney Room.

Pictured are Louis Johnson (first black stuntwoman), Lee Diebold (president of the Hall of Fame), Richard Masur (SAG president), Delmar Thomas (retired stuntman, inducted into the Hall of Fame, and one of Yakima Canutt's best friends).
 
Lee Diebold as the Renegade Apache 'Espanto' in Sadona Production's unfinished film 'The Searcher'
Lee Diebold as the Renegade Apache "Espanto" in
Sadona Production's unfinished film "The Searcher"
Lee Diebold on Crash Corrigan's horse holding a gun on Cory Rodgers at Corriganville in 1958
Lee Diebold on Crash Corrigan's horse holding a
gun on Cory Rodgers at Corriganville in 1958
 
Lee Diebold portraying a police officer that is axed by Steve Henninberry as 'The Stone Man'
Lee Diebold portraying a police officer that is axed by Steve Henninberry as "The Stone Man"
Lee Diebolds 'Certificate of Footprinting' in 1984
Lee Diebolds "Certificate of Footprinting" in 1984
Lee Diebold on the Internet Movie Database


 
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