Stuntwomen

The Radical Courage of Silent Movie Stuntwomen

We’ve been doing backflips this week for “Put The Girl in Danger!,” an excerpt from Mollie Gregory’s new book, Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story, that was published in the New Republic.

Read the preview below, then click over for the full excerpt.

Put The Girl in Danger!

10310641_10152652334666536_8793256011020349697_n Helen Gibson’s strong, handsome face and dark hair gave her the look of someone who would try anything. In 1915, while in her early twenties, she was doubling for the star of the hit serial The Hazards of Helen. In one stunt she was supposed to leap from the roof of the station to the top of a moving train. Years later, she called it her most dangerous stunt. “The distance between the station and the train was accurately measured,” she said, and she had practiced the jump several times while the train was standing still. But for the shot, the train would be picking up speed for about a quarter of a mile. “I was not nervous as it approached and I leaped without hesitation,” she recalled. She landed safely, but the rocking motion of the train rolled her straight toward the end of the car. Just before being pitched off, “I caught hold of an air vent and hung on.” Then, with a sense of the dramatic, Gibson let her body “dangle over the edge to increase the effect on the screen.” She brought the same strength and flair to scores of other action scenes.

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