Yakima Canutt Is Not A Household Name. But He Probably Should Be.


Enos Edward "Yakima" Canutt was a champion rodeo rider, and early film actor, and an influential second-unit director and action coordinator.

Oh, and he was John Wayne's stuntman. And mentor. And he played a huge role in Wayne's on-screen persona. (Wayne himself said that he "spent weeks studying the way Yakima Canutt walked and talked. He was a real cowhand.")

Here's the man at work on the set of John Ford's Stagecoach, jumping from horse to horse during one of the film's most memorable action sequences. Yes, the cut from Canutt to Wayne there at the end is a bit jarring, even for me. But it's probably a whole lot safer that way. And the long action shots actually work a whole lot better than you'd expect. (Which probably shouldn't surprise us, given that Wayne modeled much of his physical movements after the very same guy standing in for him in this scene.)

Attribution(s): "Stagecoach Image" comes from the Internet Archive Book Images via Visualhunt.com; Takima and Kitty Canutt is from cowboysandimages.net, via Wikipedia.