Stuntman for Burt Reynolds one of 4 to get honorary Oscar

Stuntman Hal Needham is one of four Hollywood insiders to get an honorary Oscar.
Stuntman Hal Needham describes his work in a Los Angeles seminar on June 15, 2011. Now 81, he is to be awarded an honorary Oscar. (Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

Stuntman Hal Needham says in his autobiography that he "broke 56 bones, my back twice, punctured a lung and knocked out a few teeth" in a career spent falling off horses and crashing cars in films like Little Big Man and Blazing Saddles.

Now 81, he was named Wednesday as one of four Hollywood insiders to be awarded honorary Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Unlike last year, when the academy picked A-list stars Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones for honorary Oscars, the four chosen have spent their lives behind the scenes.

In addition to Needham, who stunt-doubled for Burt Reynolds, the other honorees are:

  • Documentary maker D. A. Pennebaker, best known for political docs Primary (1960), which tracked John F. Kennedy's march to the Democratic presidential nomination, and The War Room (1993), which chronicled Bill Clinton's journey to the White House.
  • George Stevens, Jr., a screenwriter who co-founded the Kennedy Center Honors in 1977 and also was founding director of the American Film Institute, which works to preserve film history.
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is the "K" of DreamWorks SKG and co-founded the legendary studio with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.  He now runs DreamWorks Animation, and has been a long-time fundraiser for the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

All four will be honoured by the Academy at the Governors Awards dinner Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

With files from The Associated Press