The buckeroos and buckerettes who have gathered around the faux campfire in the Encore classroom at NCSU/McKimmon Center have enjoyed hearing tales of B-Western film production at Republic, PRC and Monogram to mention a few. Nikki Ellerbe and John Cudd tell many stories about how these studios made the movies.
During a recent session, all eyes turned to Yakima Canutt, a legend not just in B-Western movie lore, but in the motion picture industry as a whole. “Yak” is probably best known for his stunt work in western movies, but Nikki and John recounted his contributions to the industry that went well beyond his effort in the western genre. Among Yak’s accomplishments:
World Champion Rodeo Cowboy
Creating new methods of performing stunts with horses that made the stunts not only safer for the actor but safer for the horse (he received an honorary Oscar for this work in 1967)
Pioneering choreography in fight scenes to portray more exciting and realistic action sequences
Second Unit/Action Sequence director for such legendary films as Stagecoach, Ivanhoe, Ben Hur, El Cid and Spartacus
Yak was a guest of the WFPS during a 1984 B-Western Film Festival held in Raleigh.
A few years ago, the singer Clyde Lucas filmed a heartfelt tribute to the old cowboy and motion picture innovator.