Memphis-born actor, director, and stuntman Hal Needham knew what the American people wanted to see blown up bigger than life on the big screen. They wanted to see car chases. And car wrecks. And they wanted to see cars explode and humans falling from incredible heights. Needham, who died last week at 82, broke his back and 55 additional bones to give movie and TV audiences a thrill. The go-to stunt double for Burt Reynolds also punctured a lung and lost a few teeth and some of his hearing. As a director, Needham is probably best represented by his big screen debut in Smokey and the Bandit, a film capitalizing on the CB radio craze of the 1970s. The film starred Reynolds, Jerry Reed, and Sally Field as a trio of misfits and outlaws illegally transporting Coors beer from Texarkana to Alabama with Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in hot pursuit. It was the second highest-grossing film of 1977 after Star Wars. Needham directed a string of kitsch classics including Cannonball Run and Megaforce. Respect.
Elvis reasserts his claim as the King of Rock-and-Roll, by proving that death is no excuse for not cutting a duet with British singer and reality show phenom Susan Boyle. Boyle is sampling Elvis' "O Come All Ye Faithful," singing along and releasing the single to raise money for her favorite charity, Save the Children. "Dueting with Elvis was beyond my wildest dream," Boyle was actually quoted as saying.