Buddy Van Horn: Clint Eastwood’s Stunt Double and Director, Dies at 92

He collaborated with the actor-filmmaker on dozens of features, from ‘Coogan’s Bluff’ and ‘Dirty Harry’ to ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and ‘J. Edgar.’

Buddy Van Horn, a stuntman who often doubled for Clint Eastwood and directed the actor in the films Any Which Way You CanThe Dead Pool and Pink Cadillac, died May 11. He was 92.

Van Horn worked with Eastwood and his Malpaso Productions on nearly three dozen movies over more than four decades.

A charter member of the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures and member of the Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame, Van Horn began as Eastwood’s stunt double on Don Siegel’s Coogan’s Bluff (1968).

They were paired on other Siegel-helmed films like Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), The Beguiled (1971) and Dirty Harry (1971) before Eastwood hired him for a film he was also directing, High Plains Drifter (1973).

About Eastwood, “He’s a pretty physical guy and likes to do his own stunts. Some of the things he does were pretty easy to get banged up,” Van Horn said in 2011. “I’ve tried to talk him out of it sometimes, but not very successfully most of the time. He went and did ’em anyway, several of ’em. He’s been banged up a few times.”

Van Horn served as second unit director on the Eastwood-starring Magnum Force (1973), then took the reins on Any Which Way You Can (1980), The Dead Pool (1988) and Pink Cadillac (1989), the only three movies he ever helmed.

In 1988, Eastwood said he and Van Horn “share the same tastes, in terms of getting the story out there before the camera. Taste is an elusive kind of thing you really can’t explain to someone. It’s just there or it isn’t.”

Van Horn also was the stunt coordinator on many Eastwood features, including The Gauntlet (1977), Sudden Impact (1983), Pale Rider (1985), In the Line of Fire (1993), Space Cowboys (2000), Mystic River (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) and J. Edgar (2011), his final credit.

Wayne Van Horn was born on Aug. 20, 1928, on the backlot of Universal Studios, where his father was a veterinarian. He started out in the movies as an extra riding horses, then returned to the business in the early 1950s after serving two years in Germany with the U.S. Army.

Van Horn worked as a stuntman on such films as Prince Valiant (1954), Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955) — Eastwood had a small role in that — and Around the World in 80 Days (1956), then doubled for Guy Williams in 1957-58 on the ABC series Zorro, where he demonstrated his fencing and horse-riding skills.

His credits also included It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), Our Man Flint (1966), The Deer Hunter (1978), Heaven’s Gate (1980), Barfly (1987) and The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995).