Clint Eastwood, while an amazing force of nature on his own, couldn’t have done every stunt of his career all on his own.
That’s where viewers would get to see double instead. That is, Wayne “Buddy” Van Horn would fill in as his trusted stuntman. The two had formed an iconic and everlasting bond in the film industry.
Sadly, Van Horn passed away on May 11 at the age of 92. He had spent over 60 years working in the TV, movie, and stage world. His career revolved around being a professional horseman, stuntman, actor, stunt coordinator, and film director. He directed “The Dead Pool,” “Any Which Way You Can,” and “Pink Cadillac,” all of which had Eastwood as the leading man.
Van Horn could go from stunt double to the director, proving just how deep his knowledge of movie-making truly was.
Eastwood remembered his longtime friend by telling Variety, “Buddy has saved my life throughout the years. He took all my hits. I will miss our talks as he always made me laugh. He was a true friend.”
Clint Eastwood and Buddy Van Horn Relationship
Van Horn worked alongside Clint Eastwood for over 30 films. As an expert on a horse, a Western star like Eastwood needed someone with Van Horn’s skill around. So he never let him get too far.
The two started their working relationship in 1967 when Van Horn appeared as Eastwood’s stunt double. Some of his stunt credits include movies like “The Rookie,” “Dirty Harry,” “Space Cowboys,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and “Gran Torino.” Van Horn was also the Malpaso Productions stunt coordinator and director.
The respect and admiration seemed to have gone both ways. In a 2011 interview with The Independent, Van Horn talked about the experience of working with Clint Eastwood. Mostly, he said just how stubborn and resilient Eastwood is.
“There’s been a couple of times that he’s wanted to do something and I talked him out of it. 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. I’ve tried to talk him out of it sometimes, but not very successfully most of the time. He went ‘n’ did ’em anyway, several of ’em,” Van Horn said.
He also was a stunt double for well-known actors like Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, and Lee Marvin.
According to Van Horn’s obituary notice in the LA Times, “Buddy was born on the back lot of Universal Studios in Universal City, California where his father worked as a veterinarian for the studio’s horses & large animals. He began riding at a young age and liked to tell stories about riding his pony for miles in the undeveloped valleys and canyons surrounding North Hollywood.”