The Austin Chronicle has confirmed that Gary Kent, the actor, director and performer who was also one of the inspirations for Brad Pitt’s character Cliff Puth in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has died on May 25 in Austin, Texas. He was 89 years old.
Kent began his career as a skilled actor after he traveled to Los Angeles in 1958. Prior to doubling for Jack Nicholson in Monty Hellman’s “Ride in the Whirlwind” and “The Shooting,” Kent worked in film production offices and worked on the side, appearing in “Legion.” of the Doomed”, “King of the Wild Stallions”, “Battle Flame”, “The Thrill Killers”, and “The Black Klansman”.
Shortly after making his stuntman debut in 1965, Kent appeared as a gas tank attendant in Peter Bogdanovich’s first feature film “Targets,” and then worked on “Hell’s Bloody Devils,” “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant,” and “Angels.” ‘Wild Women’ and Richard “psych-out” Rush, causing injuries along the way.
While starring in Al Adamson’s soft western “Lash of Lust,” Kent met Charles Manson and his henchmen living on the Span Film Ranch, and later told Quentin Tarantino about Manson and his mechanical work in the movie Buggy. Although the character of Cliff Booth was also based on other stuntmen, Kent’s story inspired the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” sequence when Booth encounters the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch.
In addition to performing in front of the camera, Kent has also worked in production and directing jobs, serving as an assistant director on “Dracula vs. on” Rainy Day Friends and director of “The Pyramid.”
He worked as a stunt coordinator on the 2002 film Bubba Ho-Tep, but suffered a leg injury. After retiring from stunts, he continued acting until 2020, appearing in “Rondo and Bob”. Recently, he has also worked as a stunt coordinator on “Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains” and “Sex Terrorists on Wheels” in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The 2018 documentary “Danger God” chronicled his exciting life of stunts and acting.
Born June 7, 1933 in Walla Walla, Washington, he studied journalism at the University of Washington. Kent dropped out of college, joined the United States Naval Air Force, handled publicity for the Blue Angels, and worked on local theatres, which then led him to move to Houston, Texas, where he wrote, directed, and acted at the Alley and Playhouse theatres.
In 2009, Kent released a memoir chronicling his career, titled Shadows & Light: Journeys With Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood.
He is survived by his children, Chris, Greg, Colin, Andrew, Alex and Michael, and his grandchildren, Ethan, Nicolette, Timothy and Hannah.