Website last updated: 7-5-2024

In Memoriam of legendary stuntman Buzz Bundy (1930-2020)

By: Jon Auty
Buzz Bundy Diamonds Are Forever stuntman
FSWL contributor Jon Auty remember legendary stuntman Buzz Bundy who sadly passed away on 4th May 2020. Buzz worked on many films and television series including the 1971 James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever (1971) directed by Guy Hamilton starring the great Sean Connery.

The car slides into the alleyway being pursued by the police car. The camera pans back and reveals a sign at the entrance to the alleyway. ‘Dead End’. The chasing policeman gives a wry smile and says, “I got you now”. The driver of the car being chased is James Bond and for the film Diamonds Are Forever he must evade capture with the aid of a very special individual.

Two Wheels Are Better Than Four

Donald Frank Bundy, or ‘Buzz’ as he was known to those who knew him in the business, born on 11th August 1930 was given the job of driving the Ford Mustang on two wheels through an alleyway built especially for the film on a studio backlot. It was a breakthrough moment for Buzz who had spent the previous twenty plus years on the road in the company of fellow thrill-seeking drivers performing live shows all over the United States.

“It started with Bond. That was the catalyst, once I’d done that everybody wanted a car to drive on two wheels. Some TV shows the had motorcycle gags in them were re-written to accommodate a car on two wheels. Crazy days”.

Buzz was definitely in demand not only for two wheel driving but for good old-fashioned car wrecks too. Ramp to ramp jumps, ramp to ground, T-bone crashes and turn overs. One such occasion caused his worst injury whilst filming. He was doubling David Hasselhoff for the television show Knight Rider and the script called for a ramp to ground jump. Buzz would be driving the modified Pontiac Firebird Trans AM known as K.I.T.T. The jump was 50-60 feet, but Buzz had oversighted his safety belt. “I was wearing a lap belt not a racing harness that the guys do nowadays. I hit the ramp, sailed out over the car I was avoiding and hit the ground with such force that the windows all blew out and I was in incredible pain. How I brought the car to a stop is beyond me. I was carried from the car and taken to hospital where they told me I’d broken my back”.

He was always happiest doing commercials primarily because they were often day or two-day shoots and he could get home each evening. These factors were important to Buzz whenever he took on a job.

“It's great to go off and work on a picture or a TV show, but its the best feeling in the world to come home again afterwards.”

He only ever appeared on screen as a character once in an episode of The Fall Guy. “I was a deputy sheriff in that episode, had to say one line as I remember. Something deep and meaningful like ‘look out he’s getting away’, or something like that. I used to love that show too because again I was called in to put Colt Seavers truck on two wheels. And that thing looked like it should never get off the ground in the first place but we did some amazing things with it over the years”.

Bond was the start but for Buzz it didn’t finish the way he wanted it to.

“The producer, Mr Broccoli, asked me if I could do the stunt again, well I didn’t turn him down and I did it again. I asked another stunt driver Carey Loftin, who was coordinating the street chase through Vegas how they intended to get the car out of the alleyway? He asked me could I do it. I told him I would if I was asked, but I never was. Later on, it turned out that they wanted to do the exit on the street location, but the public had gathered around and I was on another picture by that time. The problem with being a specialised is you are always small in numbers on the ground. If you want a particular thing doing and you know that only two or three people in the world can do that something to the highest quality your options are very limited. I believe they used a French guy in the end and those guys are terrific, but you have to remember that whenever I put a car on two wheels its always drivers side up. I can’t do it drivers side down. Its one of the physical biases we have in life. You’re right-handed or left, right footed or left. Same with cars.”

This blink and you’ll miss it moment in a James Bond film 49 years ago created the legacy for the art of precision stunt driving. Buzz Bundy will always be remembered as the man who got Sean Connery out of that tight spot.

Here is a fine example of Buzz Bundy logic. An interviewer once asked him, “Can I ask you please if you like spending so much time on two wheels why didn’t you become a motorcycle stuntman”? Buzz chuckled to himself and said,

“Motorcycles are far too dangerous give me a car any day. Hey give me four wheels and I’ll keep two of them in great condition for you, my two wheels are better than all four.”

Interview with Hollywood Stunt Driving Legend Buzz Bundy:

Our deepest condolences go out to Buzz Bundy's family and friends.

For more information about Buzz Bundy's work on films and tv series, check out his IMDB page.



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