Gary Kent, B-movie stuntman who inspired Brad Pitt character, dead at 89

Gary Kent, a B-movie stuntman, actor and director who was the inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” died on Thursday. He was 89.

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Kent died at Onion Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Austin, Texas, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kent debuted as a stuntman in 1965, Variety reported. He then appeared as a gas tank worker in “Targets,” then worked on “Psych-Out“ in 1968 and Hell’s Bloody Devils” in 1970, followed by “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant” (1971) and “Angels’ Wild Women” (1971), the entertainment news website reported.

Born June 7, 1933, in Walla Walla, Washington, Gary Warner Kent’s earliest films include 1959′s “Battle Flame.” He later acted in “The Thrill Killers” (1964) and “The Black Klansman” (1966), the Times reported. He attended Renton High School and the University of Washington, where he studied journalism and was a backup quarterback for the football team, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kent suffered two of his most painful injuries as a stunt performer in films directed by Richard Rush, the entertainment news website reported. He sliced his arm on broken glass during a barfight fracas in “Hells Angels on Wheels (1967) and was run over by a motorcycle in “The Savage Seven” (1968).

Tarantino interviewed Kent while putting together the script for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. In the film, Pitt played charismatic stunt double Cliff Booth.

Kent had a run-in with Charles Manson and his “family” at Spahn Movie Ranch in California, the Times reported. A dune buggy broke down on the set; Manson offered to repair it, but asked for a $70 advance. Manson reneged on the deal despite being paid until Kent threatened him, according to the newspaper.

“Charles got under the dune buggy and fixed it right away,” Kent recalled.

To prepare to double for Bruce Dern in “Psych-Out,” Kent said he dropped acid, the Times reported. He told the Austin American-Statesman in 2018 that the most dangerous stunt he had ever performed was on the set of that movie, and it had nothing to do with drugs.

“I had to climb into this building and hang by my hands on the edge of this glass dome at this old art museum in L.A.,” he told the outlet. “I had to hang by my hands and swing onto this balcony and because of where the camera was, they couldn’t put any pads down. I barely made it.”

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