He died almost five years ago on November 30, 2007. He died all alone.
In 1972 I was caddying in a PGA golf tournament in Illinois and watched him marching down a neighboring fairway like the Piped Piper with a legion of people following him. He was one of a number of guest celebrities playing that day. He had a strut and a swagger to his step.
He had four children and none of them, nor the mother of those four, were with him. They all had little to do with him in his last years. He had appeared before thousands, traveled the world, performed for kings and queens and had been shoulder to shoulder with the rich and famous. A child’s toy of him had once brought in over thirty million dollars to him in revenue. He once bought five planes, all at the same time; owned sixteen boats, three of them yachts; and owned numerous homes in many locations. At one time he was “It” with a capital I. He seemed to have it all. Later his most loyal sponsors said, “Let any future contract die, do not ask for a re-sign.” His main house in his home town in Montana that he once paid nine-hundred thousand dollars for sold in foreclosure for two-hundred and fourteen thousand dollars.
Truly it could be said of him, “He tore down many barns and built bigger ones.” His closing words at his death were, “The price I have paid for notoriety and fame is just not worth it.”
He was Robert Knievel, or better known as Evel Knievel: October 17, 1938 – November 30, 2007
I guess what I will most remember about him is he died alone in a trailer park in the afternoon. Earlier that day a hospice worker had been to see him. She was the only person who came to see him in weeks.
“The celebrity on the contrary, is always contemporary. The hero is made by folk-lore, sacred texts and history books. The celebrity is the creature of gossip, of public opinion, of newspapers, magazines and the ephemeral images of movie and television screens. The passage of time which creates and establishes the hero, destroys the celebrity. The celebrity is born in the daily papers, and never loses the mark of his fleeing origin. Yesterday’s celebrity, however, is a commonplace man who has been fitted back into his proper commonplace not by the fault of his own, but by time itself.”
The Image – Daniel Boorstin
November 3, 2012