A friend forwarded an episode of the classic 1969 motorcycle TV show ‘Then Came Bronson’, in which James Bronson (Michael Parks) meets Alex (Keenan Wynn) in Sturgis.  Alex has a 1937 Rudge Ulster hidden away in a friend’s garage, and Bronson’s presence reveals his secret, causing a bit of strife with his wife.  The episode has great riding scenes towards the end, with the men off-roading their respective machines (Rudge Ulster and Harley-Davidson Sportster) in the green grass of the Black Hills, including a flying leap over a creek.  Bronson learns a bit about the viability of vintage motorcycles in the process – undoubtedly you’ll think the Ulster a far more suitable off-road machine than a ’69 Sportster!  Keenan Wynn was well known for his motorcycle enthusiasm, but the stunts look to be performed by Carey Loftin , who had quite a career.

Carey Loftin is an AMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a legendary stuntman who taught himself trick riding skills as a very young man.  At 19 he was hired in Skip Fordyce’s traveling stunt-riding show after performing a back flip from the saddle, landing behind the bike and controlling it with the seat, before hopping back on and coming to a halt.  Loftin earned his living via trick riding and mechanicking during the Depression, and after WW2 started work in Hollywood as a stuntman and character actor, with hundreds of film and TV credits over a 50-year career, riding motorcycles and driving cars, including hairy scenes in ‘Bullitt’, ‘The French Connection’, and ‘Vanishing Point.’  Loftin died in 1997 at the ripe age of 83 – who says stunt riding leads to an early grave?

Carey Loftin and actor Rory Calhoun aboard his Triumph Thunderbird and Steib sidecar