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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 December 2007, 10:58 GMT
US daredevil Evel Knievel dies
Evel Knievel in 1977
Knievel famously attempted to jump Snake River Canyon
Legendary US daredevil Evel Knievel has died at the age of 69, his granddaughter has said.

Knievel had suffered ill-health, including diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis - an incurable lung condition - for several years.

He underwent a liver transplant, after nearly dying of hepatitis C, in 1999.

Knievel gained cult status performing death-defying stunts in the 1960s and 70s, including an attempted motorcycle jump over Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

Rocket-powered bike

He was such a mythical and iconic figure that later on, as a teenager, I had to be convinced he wasn't some made-up figure from a distant childhood memory.
Marc Starr, Manchester

He regularly drew huge crowds when he attempted to jump over rows of parked vehicles with his motorbike.

"They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives," Knievel once said.

Bubba Blackwell, a fellow motorcycle show jumper, paid tribute to Knievel.

"What a showman - that was the part I liked about him the most. Anyone [who] can ride a motorcycle and do tricks - and they usually come off - is pretty much a fool," Mr Blackwell told the BBC's World Today programme.

"He somehow figured out how to get the public's attention, and put on quite a show, and you just couldn't take your eyes off the guy."

His friend Doug Malewicki told BBC News 24: "You know he was an interesting character. He really made something out of himself.

"You know he wasn't Mother Theresa, he made things happen and, you know, pushed to make whatever his dreams were.

"The first time I met him he was in the hospital because he'd crashed in practice and broke a bunch of things but he would do.

"Statistically he'd probably make 50 jumps before he'd crash and make a mistake."

In one famous incident in 1968, he attempted to jump over the fountains at the Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas.

The resulting crash put him in a coma for 29 days, but brought him a large amount of publicity.

His 1974 attempt to cross the Snake River Canyon in Idaho on a rocket-powered bike also failed, when a parachute opened prematurely and he fell into the river.

By the time he retired in 1980 Knievel had broken nearly 40 bones.

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond spent a week with Knievel during the summer to make a TV documentary about him.

"He wasn't a well man but he was strong," Hammond told BBC Five Live.

"And the more time you spent with him - he was just coming up to 70 and physically in a very bad way - he was still difficult and demanding and angry at times. That was great because he was fighting - that's what he did."

In Pictures: Evel Knievel
01 Dec 07 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Evel Knievel
30 Nov 07 |  Entertainment
Evel Knievel has died: Your reaction
30 Nov 07 |  Have Your Say
Kanye seeking Knievel settlement
12 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
Evel Knievel sues over video
13 Dec 06 |  Entertainment
Knievel cracks Grand Canyon
25 May 99 |  Americas

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