Dick was born in the small town of Oakley, just outside of Cincinnati Ohio, in the year 1940. He moved around the Cincinnati area until his family settled in Madisonville.
In 1953 he and his family moved to Southern California where his parents found work in the aircraft industry. A few years later Dick started writing letters to Flying "A" Production studios looking for work as a stuntman for Dick Jones
on the television series the Ranger Rider. Little did he know that at that tender age, no studio would hire him for such work. His desire never waned though. He decided that he would end up in show business somehow. He built a wrestling ring in his back yard and persuaded his younger sister, Lolly, to be his opponent and help him hone his skills as a professional wrestler. That lasted until his sister took her first fall to the ground on which the ring was built. He soon gave up the idea of this as a profession realizing that he was much to small. And, by the way, so did she. Later, while roller-skating at a local rink in Gardena California he became interested in speed skating. He joined the speed club that was being taught by the famous National Speed Skating Champion, Ralph Valledares. It just so happened that Ralph was also a member of the Los Angeles Braves, the Roller Derby team representing the city of Los Angeles at the time. Ralph was able to see potential in Dick and asked him to stay until after the training session was over. He began to work with him and in due time asked Dick to join him at the Western Skating Institute. There Dick received formal training in the arts of "jamming", "blocking" and "falling" on the banked track. He particularly remembers a talented, red-haired gal, named Columbus, who put him over the rail a time or two. Tough lady!
Eventually Dick abandoned professional skating because the money was lousy. He was more interested in marriage and made more money working nights at American Airlines. On one weekend he and his fiancé went to a Movie Ranch called Corriganville. He was instantly taken by what he experienced. Grown men dressed up in cowboy outfits playing shoot'em up in front of about 3000 people a weekend. After watching the shows and Dick's reaction, his fiancé asked him to speak to the people in charge about working there. Thinking it an excellent idea, he spoke with a man named Charlie Aldrich who was "The Man". Charlie had complete control over who was hired and who was not. At the time it was very late in the day and Mr. Aldrich was very busy. He asked Dick to come back the next weekend to talk to him.
Consistency eventually paid off. After three weekends of driving round trip 210 miles both Saturday and Sunday only to be told to "come back next week", Charlie must have admired Dick's moxie because he gave him a job. Dick showing up ready to fight the bad guys but was unhappy to learn he was assigned to walk in the background of the scenes. No gun. No shoot'em up. Just a body in the background. What a disappointment. Nevertheless, Dick was one of the people on "the inside" of the roped off area. He was in Show Business! Now mind you, the fact that he was NOT paid a dime for the first six months he worked there didn't bother him a bit. He was in show biz. One day, he was assigned to be a spectator at the "Hanging of Henry Plummer" sequence. One of the fellows that normally got shot and did a fall as the bad guy failed to show up that day. Two of the leading actors, Jerry Vance and Bob Bickston, began conversing and decided to risk letting the young guy (Dick) do the fall. As the "hanging" progressed to the point where the bad guy was to die, Dick's heart was busting out of his chest. Nervous city! His big chance! He just couldn't mess this one up. BANG! Dick fell down the embankment and into the hearts of the two men who made the decision to give him a chance. Jerry Vance always played Billy the Kid in every show in which Billy was featured, from "Billy the Kid becomes an Outlaw" to "Billy the Kid Breaks Jail". He also played Billy Clanton in the "Gunfight at the O K Corral". Jerry had the top spot most of the time as the good guy. Bob Bickston usually played the Heavy. He was the really bad dude and usually died in the end. Jerry stepped back from these juicy roles out of the kindness of his heart and gave them to Dick to play. " I am forever grateful to Jerry for giving me a leg up in attaining my goal".
Every weekend Dick played shoot'em up with those two very good friends. It was Jerry who had taken him under his wing to help forge his career as a stuntman/actor. After leaving "The Ranch" as Corriganville was fondly called, Jerry would take Dick around to the various studios introducing him to casting people and other stuntmen. One of those people was a fellow named Bill Ward. Bill asked Dick (with the idea being planted by Jerry) to be a part of a movie that he had written with plans to produce and direct. The title of this film was "Ballad of a Gunfighter" starring Mr. El Paso himself, Marty Robbins. This was Dick's chance for eligibility into the Screen Actors Guild, which was very hard to get into. It was necessary to belong to this guild, which is actually a Union, to work in front of the camera as an actor or stunt person. Since Dick wasn't able to come up with the $225.00 initation fee to join the Guild the pediatrician who delivered two of his three children, Dr. Shapiro, loaned him the money so the he wouldn't miss out on this opportunity.
This was truly the beginning of a career in the entertainment field. As time went on Dick came to know more and more industry people. The good Lord and Dick Ivey gave a wonderful blessing when Dick met Walt Disney. Mr. Disney became very fond of Dick and as a result he spent 10 years working at the studio. The jobs covered everything from "Blackbeards Ghost" and the first three "Love Bug" movies to "Cat From Outer Space" and beyond. In the second and third Love Bugs he was the driver of the little car for Helen Hayes, Ken Berry and Dean Jones.
During his tenure at Disney, Dick was led to and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior by Bob Yerkes and there he also met a young man named Kurt Russell. Both of these events changed his life forever. Kurt celebrated his 18th birthday on their first movie together, "Computer Wore Tennis Shoes". He and Kurt became friends and Dick ended up stunt doubling for him in almost every film he worked in for over 25 years. By the time "Tango & Cash" was filmed Dick had given up smoking and had gained about 20 pounds. Kurt, on the other hand, was still as slim as when he played "Elvis" for Dick Clark. Dick felt, even though it was one of the hardest decisions he would ever make, it was time for Kurt to get someone else to do the hard stuff. This needs to be said about Kurt, along with a lot of the action heroes of the movies, Kurt is every bit as talented (very athletic, with physical prowess) as most stuntmen in Hollywood. However, it is the production companies insurance restrictions that insist stuntmen be used during high risk, and sometimes, low risk stunts. The reason being, as in the case of Bob Conrad on "Wild Wild West", sometimes accidents do happen. Bob was very capable of doing his own stunts and did exactly that in most cases. However, during one particular stunt, Bob planned to dive from a balcony onto a wagon wheel shaped ceiling light. The light broke, spilling Bob on his head. This accident caused around sixty people to be out of work until he recovered. If it had been a stunt person doing the stunt, the studio would simply dress another stunt man then repeat the scene without the slightest bit of disruption to the filming. Dick remembers another film where a friend of his was killed doing a high fall. The company took time to cover the man's broken body and went right on filming. Seriously, it can be a very heartless business.
A tenth grade dropout (which he is not proud of), the Lord and Dick's career have allowed him to meet people and go places that normally he would have only dreamt about like: John F. Kennedy, Muhammud Ali and Elvis Presley. He is very grateful to all of his fellow stuntmen like: Carey Loftin, Tom Steele, Davie Sharpe, Roydon Clark, Al Wyatt Sr, Glen Randal Jr, Gary Jensen, Terry Leonard, Fred Lerner, Hal Needham, Gary Combs, Bill Lane, Bob Brown, Al Jones, Max Klevin, Henry Wills, Reggie Parton, Paul Nuckles, Bob Herron, Dane Farwell and Denney Pierce for all of their help by hiring him as a stunt player and the way they made him look good when he was coordinating. Producers: such as Walt Disney, David Brown and Carpenter/Hill. Directors: John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Stan Winston, James Cameron and Georg Fenedy. Assistant directors: Bobby Webb, Joe McAveety, Scott Adam and production managers Robert Brown, and John Bloss. Casting directors, Dick Ivey and Jim Martell. Celebrities: Dick Jones, Kurt Russell, Dean Jones, Joe Flynn, Ken Berry, Robert Morse, Ricou Browning, Elvis Presley, Donald Pleasence, Helen Hayes, Tim Conway, Clint Eastwood, and Lance Henriksen and many others that he has met along the way. Each, in some way or another, have had an impact on him and his chosen profession. Art Vitarelli a second unit director at Disney Studios had a profound impact on Dick both as a mentor and friend. He taught Dick many valuable lessons that would serve him throughout his career. John Carpenter and Debra Hill would ultimately be the ones to put him in the current position of making public appearances and meeting the fans of one of the best horror series ever filmed: "Halloween" in Halloween II he played Michael Myers and in Halloween III he was the Assassin. He met both John and Debra on "Escape from New York" which starred his friend Kurt Russell. The result of that job was that Debra called him in to meet Rick Rosenthal, director of Halloween II. You might say, "He all but had the job before the meeting". Dick was also privileged to have worked with a young Steven Spielberg on the movie "Jaws" where he did the shark cage sequence for Richard "Hooper" Dreyfuss. He will always be forever grateful to Jesse Wayne; who for years doubled for Mickey Rooney. Jesse was busy at the time of filming and recommended Dick for the "Jaws" position. This film is one of many highlights of his working years in Hollywood. Dick's final film in Hollywood was "Spiderman". He was among 45 other stunt people running around on a hotel balcony dodging pieces of cement and fire while Spiderman and the Green Goblin used it as a fight arena.
2010: Dick just recently took a part in a local Mystery Dinner Theatre Production of "Will's Last Will and Testament" as the Attorney Pro-tem D.W. Howe of the law firm of Dewey-Cheatum and Howe. This has been an eye opening experience for him. He says, "Give me film any time. The idea of remembering all of those lines is more than I want to deal with on a regular basis." It was a lot of fun though.
Note from Dick:
This bio is by no means complete, as I've failed to mention many people and many events. I hope you have enjoyed my attempt to inform you about my work as much as I have enjoyed actually doing it. God bless each and every one of you.
2013 Dick and his wife Cathy ventured to Durant Oklahoma to visit his long time pal and former Hollywood stuntman himself, Jerry Vance. On the way there Cathy wrote a short story which turned into a thirteen minute western video called Retribution. Jerry saw what was happening with Cathy's story and so he wrote one as well. Jerry's was titled Bad Bob. They were vidioed at the Sipokni Western Town in Reagan Ok. Some of the local folks acted as extras and some did parts as well. John Shackelford owns the town which he built by hand over a number of years and was a tremendous help in making this adventure happen. Lance Warlock wrote the music for both Bad Bob and Retribution. Everyone including Dick and Jerry had a great time playng cowboy again after doing it over 50 years earlier at Corriganville. Perhaps these gems will end up on YouTube some day.