Sunday, November 29, 2015

Born Today November 29: Yakima Canutt


Born Enos Edward Canutt in Colfax, Washington, he is our first stunt man on the "Born Today" list.  He grew up on a ranch and broke his first bronco when I was just 11; by the age of 16 is was riding in the local rodeo.  By 17 he was riding professionally.  It was in 1914 at an event called the Pendleton Round-Up, he got his nickname "Yakima" when a local newspaper misidentified him. He went on to have a very successful rodeo career; but he got into stunts for the movies very early on in his life in the year 1915.  It was in a short staring the legendary Tom Mix.  In all during the 1910's and 1920's he did stunts in 7 films as a double.  However, by 1919, he also embarked on an acting career in episode of the silent serial Lightning Bryce.  During the silent era, he had many more acting roles than stunt doubling work--and back then stunt people were rarely, if ever credited.  Of course, in all the films in which he actually acted, he did his own stunt work.  With his nickname now being used as an actual first name, a new nickname "Yak" was applied to him; and during this time frame he was sometimes credited as simply Yak.  His first speaking role came in the last film he acted in during the 1920's: A Texan's Honor (1929), now sadly a lost film.  He went on to have almost as long an acting career as he did in stunts.  Also during the silent era, he had 5 producer credits, and 2 writing credits; pretty impressive for a guy who started out breaking bronco's on his father's ranch in Washington State!  His last appearance on film came in 1985, a year before his death in the short Yak's Best Ride.  He passed away from natural causes on the 24th of May 1986 at the age of 90.  He is interred in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery.  

In action--John Ford's 1938 Stagecoach, doubling John Wayne.

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