It has been announced that the film director Hal Needham has died after a short battle with cancer. He was 82 years old. In a career stretching back to nineteen fifty-six, Needham had worked on some of the most popular films and television shows of the sixties and seventies.
At one point he was the highest paid stuntman in the movie business and it was thorough this that he began to work with Burt Reynolds. Reynolds, having read the script that Needham wrote for Smokey and The Bandit, gave Hal the opportunity to direct the film. The result was one of the biggest grossing movies of the decade cementing Burt Reynolds as the number one box office star of the time. The hits kept on coming with a sequel to the Bandit film, Hooper and the Cannonball Run films. Although the films were never critically lauded they were immensely popular with audiences all round the world.