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Yes History Does Matter by Marvin Walters
July 11th, 2012

© 2012 Marvin Walters, All Rights Reserved.


Many of the Black stuntmen are saying: "Cofounding of The Black Stuntmen's Association is not important; it is history and does not matter." Well history does matters! Identities are formed by the practices, experiences, and beliefs of the past. Individuals, institutions, and cultures have roots and those roots influence the present and help shape the future. Many people are attempting to rediscover their identity and heritage as a means of defining their task for the future.

One might argue that the reasons some people would like to eliminate my participation in changing motion picture history for all races is amnesia and loss of memory: Which in this case means lost identity and those with amnesia have to depend upon each other to define who they are. A group of people with no memories gets their identities from their ethnicity and loses their power to influence the culture. Are the trends toward loyalty and renewed interest contradictory and mutually exclusive to their identities?

What is interesting about my history in the motion picture industry is that it can be verified by: Mickey Gilbert, Fred Waugh, Chuck Bail, Jennie Epper, the Epper Brothers, Mae Boss, Larry Holt, Glen Wilder, Sandy Gimpel, Donna Garrett, Dave Cass, Max Klevin and many other Stunt Professionals; even those who did not like me, however, they all respected me because I always respected them and never attempted to stab them in their backs to accomplish anything. They always knew what I was up to because I informed them first, unlike others who wanted to get them into hot water. And then there are the many studio presidents, vice presidents and other executives from all of the major motion picture studios who respected my integrity; they are too many to name unless it is necessary.

I am sorry that it has come to this after all these years. I moved to Texas for a piece of mind and was happy and doing very well until people began to attempt to steal my legacy; as most of you know, I could have been a very wealthy man had I kept my mouth shut. There are many millionaires in the industry today, black and white, male and female because of my efforts and I have no regrets and hold no grudges. All I had left was my Legacy to my children; and they are now attempting to take that away.
(The reason for this letter is because certain Black Stuntmen are claiming that I had nothing to do with the founding of the Black Stuntmen's Association)
Well let's set the record straight. My witnesses are: Mickey Gilbert, Fred Waugh, Ronnie Rondell, Max Klevin, Red West and Glen Wilder: And Phil Diezen, who Me and Eddie Smith met with, along with Chet Midgen, national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild to get waivers for the BSA to work as stuntmen on a Television Special with The Supremes and Bing Crosby in 1968.
I was introduced to Mickey Gilbert by Carl Thompson in June 1967. Carl lived down the road from Mickey on Soledad Canyon Road in Saugus California. Mickey had made a request for Negro Men to be trained as stuntmen for a television series, (Cowboy in Africa), which he was the stunt coordinator. I was the only one to show up; "Mickey said "there is going to be a need for Negro Stuntmen in the future." I had met Carl in 1960 and again in 1965 at the California Stables where Tony Brubaker and I were trail riders on the weekends, Carl worked full time.
Carl was forced to move to Saugus California after a lion he owned 'Henry' mauled a child at the California Stables. Carl began to work at Africa USA an Exotic Wildlife Preserve on Soledad Canyon Rd; handling and training wild animals, tigers, lions, elephants, etc. Mickey sometime hired him on Cowboy In Africa doing stunts, however that is not what Carl wanted to do.
Mickey Gilbert and Fred Waugh begin instructing me on camera angles and fights and falls. These three skills were and are the most important things a stunt person should know. I would drive 55 miles one way to Mickey's ranch two to three times a week. Many times we would work so late I would spend the night with his lovely family. This training went on for about three months. I would go to Fred's house on the weekends and practice high-falls. My first stunt was on 'Cowboy In Africa' on November 19, 1967. This is when I met Eddie Smith who was working as an Extra on this episode. Eddie said he worked as an Extra down the road on Daktari a television series being filmed at Africa USA. Eddie. I told Eddie that I was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers and was teaching them what I was learning from Mickey and Fred and that I was planning to start a stunt group. Eddie said he had talked to them before but they were not interested. I said since they know now that I am going to work as a stuntman on 'Cowboy In Africa', they might be willing to listen now. Eddie said he had previously talked to Cal Brown about forming a group, but Cal was working on a regular basis and did not have the time. I told Eddie that we need to form a group. Mickey thought it would be a good idea however, he was a little hesitant about me starting a group with Eddie Smith, as were a lot of other people. At that time I did not know Eddie Smith; I took him out to meet the members of the Buffalo Soldiers: Eddie jumped on top of a picnic table and told the group how much money they could make doing stunts: That was the beginning of the Negro Stuntmen's Association: The rest is history!
On April 3, 1968 Eddie called me and said the NSA was being changed to the BSA and was it ok with me. What could I say! I was in Cleveland, Ohio working on "Up Tight" a feature film. The reason I remember the date is because Martin Luther King was assassinated the next day.
Many of the Black stuntmen who are now claiming that I had nothing to do with the founding of the BSA were not around when the group was founded: One of them was considered to be too white and his hair too long to be a member of the NSA. Another one walked around with his monogrammed white shirt on watching as the group went through their training routines. This same person and I bumped heads together when I was teaching the Buffalo Soldiers how to do saddle falls, he had to take me to the emergency room. Another one never did but one stunt in his life and was nowhere around when the NSA was formed. Another one did not ever become an official member of the BSA because he did not want to leave the Buffalo Soldiers because he was kind of in charge of that group. You guys know who you are; and many of the men that are following you now also know who you are. I wonder if they are willing to perjure themselves because if you continue slandering my name I will have no choice but to file a Slander Lawsuit against all of you. It is my understanding that you are soliciting money from members to sue me. Well you had better take another look at my potential witnesses: Do you really want to go there.
Does the group know that The Black Stuntmens Association that was filed as a corporation in the State of Nevada does not exist as The Black Stuntmen's Association! (Notice the spelling of STUNTMENS). It was also filed as (The Blackstuntman's Association). Apparently you guys did not know the correct spelling of the BSA someone attempted to steal it.
I invited Mickey Gilbert, Glen Wilder and Ronnie Rondell to come out to the park and give us some pointers: They did and said you needed to learn high falls, Motorcycle and driving. I took the group to Ron Wrights home in Altadena, California where I demonstrated and instructed them how to do forward falls and back falls into mattresses off of Ron Wright's garage. I than took them to me and Kenny Endoso's secret driving spot in Griffith Park and showed them how to do 180s, reverse 180s and 90 degree maneuvers, which Kenny and I had learned from Chuck Bail and many weeks of practice. So you guys need to do what you need to do. Remember, there is a reaction to every action. Trust me, I do realize this!

© 2012 Marvin Walters, All Rights Reserved.

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