Legendary martial arts expert Gene LeBell died on August 9, 2022 at the age of 89, he had been the inspiration for the character of Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood.
Gene LeBell is died at the age of 89 on August 9, 2022, his experience as a stunt double and martial arts expert led him to be the inspiration for the character of Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood.
The stuntman has worked with the likes of Bruce Lee, Elvis Presley, Chuck Norris and Ronda Rousey.
Born on October 9, 1932, Gene LeBell began to approach martial arts when he was only seven years old, being trained by Ed “Strangler” Lewis and then taking judo lessons, a sport of which he was a champion in the 1950s before becoming a professional wrestler.
In 1963 the sportsman accepted a fight with boxer Milo Savage, an event designed to try to verify the idea of many boxers of the time who supported martial arts were not able to prepare an athlete like their sport. After five rounds, however, it was LeBell who came out of the Salt Lake City ring as the winner.
His technique, called “LeBell Lock”, to block the opponent by grabbing him by the shoulders and neck, has become legendary.
From 1962 to 2021 Gene worked for the small and big screen, collaborating with action film experts such as Bruce Lee.
On the set of Justice at All Costs, where he was the stunt coordinator, Steven Seagal challenged him by claiming that his martial arts prowess would prevent him from being a victim of the expert’s signature move. According to some reconstructions, LeBell accepted the challenge by knocking out Seagal that he even had an unexpected involuntary “intestinal reaction”. Gene, interviewed by MMA Underground, argued: “We had a little quarrel, or difference of opinion, there were thirty stuntmen and cameramen watching us. Sometimes Steven has a tendency to provoke the wrong people and you can risk getting hurt. If a dude gets it on you can’t fault him because if you had a good dinner an hour before you might have a tendency to do it … Steven Seagal is amazing at martial arts. I have nothing against him“The actor, however, argued that the reconstruction is totally false and Gene was a” pathological liar. ”
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Gene LeBell’s career then partly inspired the character of Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, in the film Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood, in particular for the controversial scene dedicated to the clash between the stunt double and Bruce Lee.
Among the films in which he starred as a stunt double are King Kong (1976), Airplane! (1980), Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Independence Day (1996), Bruce Almighty (2003) and Smoking Aces (2006). In Raging Bull he has the role of a speaker during one of the clashes in the ring.