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Stunt Maestro Martin Grace (1942-2010)

By: Anders Frejdh
Published:
2010-01-31
Martin Grace stuntman
We are very sad to announce the sudden death of our dear friend Martin Grace (stuntman for Roger Moore in several of his films). Our thoughts and prayers are with Martin's family.

Apparently after suffering a cycling accident in late November, Martin fractured his pelvis and was hospitalised for some weeks. This week he was taken from his home in Spain to hospital again after developing breathing problems. He died after suffering an aneurism.

Martin was an accomplished stunt performer and stunt coordinator working close with Roger Moore acting as his stunt double through most of his Bond films. For the full story, read an interview with Martin Grace that was exclusively published on Roger Moore's official website.

"He will be missed terribly by many friends. When they had him double me [as Jaws in Moonraker (1979)] they used little Dickie Grayson to double Roger and the scale was the same. Martin had a wonderful personality and was easy to work with, yet a consummate stuntman." - Richard Kiel

Martin Grace obituary:
Kilkenny's very own James Bond - Grace, Martin Grace (born at The Wood, Lisdowney, Ireland) - the man who brought action movies to life with death defying stunts, died on January 27, 2010, at the age of 67.

A Hollywood superstar, his bravery and skills adorned Bond movies, Indiana Jones and numerous classic war films from Escape to Athena to the Wild Geese.

Martin passed away in Spain from an aneurysm, and he had just recovered from a cycling accident in Spain last November. His remains will be returned to the place of his birth, and burial will be in the family grave in Freshford around mid-February. Details will be announced later, but it is likely to be the weekend of Friday, February 19.

Bond actor Roger Moore described him as the bravest man he ever knew – and with very good reason.

It was Martin who lept from the Mercesdes 250 to the speeding train in Octopussy (1983) (1983) – a feat which almost cost him his life and his role as Roger Moore's double thirlled audience in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and A View to a Kill (1985).

Martin was born on September 12, 1942, and attended Scoil Bhrid, Lisdowney from 1947. Even from an early age his strength and athleticism was very much evident and he was a talented young hurler. He played for Lisdowney school in the 1955 final, and was more successful the following year in 1956 when he won the St Kierans school league. He attended secondary school at Kilkenny vocational school, and having viewed an action movie in a tent thanks to a travelling cinema, he was determined to make it to the big screen.

He emigrated to London, and went to acting school - the Mounview Academy of Theatre Arts and joined the Red Coats in Butlins.

His talents were soon spotted, but first for the small screen. He was the man who stole the girl in the Cadbury's Milk Tray advertisement – the helicopter, climbing in to the apartment, and delicately placing a box of chocolates on a bedside table – all because the lady loved Cadburys Milk Tray.

His first film credit was in the sci-fi classic, Dr. Who and the Daleks in 1965 and his career simply exploded – literally. He took up roles in films from Robinson Crusoe's Treasure Island to the aforementioned Wild Geese before specialising in stunt work. The Bond movies began in 1966, working on six of them and also the Indianna Jones series of the 1980s were to benefit from his daring talents. Such was the respect he was held in the movie industry, Martin became a stunt consultant. He worked all over the world, and did three classic films in Ireland – the medieval masterpiece King Arthur, the multiple oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan and here in Kilkenny was the stunt co-oridnator for 'A Circle of Friends'.

One of the classic movies from the 1990s to feature Martin was Patriot Games.

He was a regular visitor to Kilkenny and his home place of Lisdowney – thrilling local school kids with his exploits on the film set and finding the time to visit old school mates and neighbours. Indeed in 2006, a project on Martin Grace earned Clontubrid NS a national award.

One of his first teachers, Larry Hamilton described Martin as a real gentleman, "very decent." Larry obviously played a key role in inspiring Martin as they always kept in touch with postcards from every film destination Martin worked in. "Martin Grace just loved people. Anywhere he went he always met the local people, hired the local people, from Fiji to South Africa to Poland, Martin always wanted to meet local people, and to enjoy their company and learn from them."

Martin lived between Spain, England and Los Angeles. He returned at least twice a year to Lisdowney. He loved the spring time, and strolling through the bluebells near The Wood, just next to his home place. He was also a keen hurling fan and was in Croke Park for Kilkenny's four in a row triumph. "He could have made it as a hurler," said Larry " He was very athletic, strong and had style. He loved weightlifting and I suppose body building was what he really got in to as a sport."

Around the world such stars as Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore will remember and pay their respects to Martin Grace. His funeral in Freshford could very well be a real gathering of film greats.

But to the people of the Lisdowney and Freshford areas, Martin will be remembered as one of their own – a modest gentleman who became a star, lived the life of every young boys dream and never forget where he came from.

Martin has one surviving immediate relative in the county, Paddy. He is also survived by his daughter Donna, a doctor in England.

Obituary above from Kilkenny People, published on February 2, 2010.

Other obituaries of Martin Grace:
>The Sunday Times
>The Telegraph
>The Independent

Roger Moore's webmaster Marie-France Vienne has designed a website as a tribute to Martin:
martingrace.skynetblogs.be

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