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Subject: UK stunt man Terry Richards dies aged 81

Written By: Philip Eno on 06/24/14 at 7:27 am
Terry Richards most famous role was the Cairo Swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark

One of the UK's top stunt men, Terry Richards, who starred in more than 100 films including Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark has died aged 81.

He played the Cairo Swordsman in the first Indiana Jones film, famously trying to goad Harrison Ford into a sword fight only to be shot dead.

In a 50-year career, Richards worked on nine 007 films, opposite four different Bonds, before retiring in 1999.

He also doubled for Donald Sutherland, Tom Selleck and Christopher Lee.

"He fought Indiana Jones, James Bond, Luke Skywalker and Rambo - there's not many people who can say that," his son Terry Richards Junior told the BBC.

His final film was Bond adventure Tomorrow Never Dies, which saw him beating up Pierce Brosnan in a recording studio, while other films included The Avengers, The Princess Bride, Zulu and The Dirty Dozen.

"He was a great character, a good story teller, very charming and full of humour, and was well loved and respected in the film industry," said his family.

Richards was born David Terence Richards in south London in 1932, but was known to everyone as Terry.

He joined the film industry in 1957, when a friend in the Welsh Guards told him they needed extras with military training.

"He was paid extra to fall off some scaffolding in a riot scene, which he did for a few extra pounds, and that was the beginning of his stunt career," said his daughter in law, Lisa Thomas.

Richards was soon working with stars like Kirk Douglas in The Vikings (1958) and became a founding member of The Stunt Register in 1960.

His family revealed he died suddenly last Saturday 14 June, and his funeral is scheduled to take place in Ruislip, north west London, later.

"He was still in good health but he was more ill than he thought," said Mr Richards.

Mr Richards said his father had enjoyed "a good life" travelling all over the world.

"He'd been dragged behind cars, fallen off buildings, shot, punched. He always used to get up, but this time sadly he wasn't getting up."

Richards also taught Ray Winston to sword fight for Robin Hood and toured the world with a jousting show as the black knight, followed by 10 years jousting at the Beefeater Restaurant at the Tower of London.

At a 30th anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 2011, Harrison Ford revealed details of Richards' most famous role as the Cairo Swordsman.

Ford said it was his idea not to duel with Richards, but to shoot him instead, as the Indiana Jones actor had fallen ill during the shoot.

"I was no longer capable of staying out of my trailer for more than it took to expose a role of film, which was 10 minutes, and then I would have to flee back there for sanitary facilities," said Ford.

He added that Richards, who had "trained and trained" for the role, was disappointed to lose the chance to show off his newly acquired sword skills.

The Cairo Swordsman did get its own action figure and has even appeared in Lego form.

Reflecting on the role and his career in an interview with Red Carpet TV in 2012, Richards said the stunt industry had changed a lot.

"Now it's all CGI. After a day's stunting when I was doing it, you really knew you did a day's work, you were covered in bruises.

"I was doing a jousting thing and I broke my wrist, I've broken ribs, sternum, cheek bone.

"Now they've got all this body armour that they can wear, it's a different ball game altogether," he added..

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