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'77 attack could dent Evel Knievel's estate

December 04, 2007|From the Associated Press

Of all the bones Evel Knievel broke over the years, the costliest may have been the left arm of a PR man by the name of Shelly Saltman.

Saltman won $12.75 million in damages against Knievel after the motorcycle daredevil attacked him with a baseball bat in 1977 in a rage over a book Saltman had written about the showman, "Evel Knievel on Tour."

With interest, the still-uncollected sum has grown to more than $100 million by Saltman's estimate, and he intends to try to collect it.

"We are going hot and heavy after his estate," Saltman, 76, said in an interview after Knievel died Friday at 69.

"What he tried to do to me and how it hurt my family, I'm owed that."

Whether Knievel's estate has that kind of money is unclear.

Knievel's son Kelly would not discuss the size of his father's estate or comment on the dispute. The daredevil's longtime friend and promoter, Billy Rundle, declined to discuss the incident in detail. Knievel's ex-wife Krystal was not granting interviews.

Although little remembered today, the incident made headlines worldwide when the motorcyclist approached Saltman in the parking lot of 20th Century Fox on Sept. 21, 1977, and suddenly started swinging a bat. Saltman, then a studio executive, raised his arm to protect his head, a move he says doctors told him probably saved his life.

His arm was shattered and is held together to this day with a steel plate and screws.

Knievel, who broke nearly 40 of his own bones during his many motorcycle stunts, served six months in jail for the attack on Saltman and would never again enjoy the public acclaim he had when he tried unsuccessfully to jump Idaho's Snake River Canyon on a jet-powered motorcycle in 1974 -- an event Saltman had promoted.

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