This is intended to be a list of notable accidents which occurred during the shooting of films and television, such as cast or crew fatalities or serious accidents which plagued production. It is not intended to be a list of every minor injury an actor or stuntman suffered during filming. Stuntwork accounts for over half of all film-related injuries, with an average of five deaths for every 2,000 injuries. From 1980 to 1990 there were 37 deaths relating to accidents during stunts; 24 of these deaths involved the use of helicopters.
Sherlock, Jr. (1924). While hanging from a water tower, Buster Keaton pulls a rope which releases water from the tower, knocking him to the ground. In the scene, he stands and runs into the distance. During a routine physical examination 11 years later, an X-ray revealed that Keaton had fractured his neck.
The Warrens of Virginia (1924). On November 29, 1923, while working on location in San Antonio, Texas, Martha Mansfield was severely burned when a match, tossed by a cast member, ignited her Civil War costume of hoopskirts and flimsy ruffles. Mansfield was playing the role of Agatha Warren and had just finished her scenes and retired to a car when her clothing burst into flames. Her neck and face were saved when leading man Wilfred Lytell threw his heavy overcoat over her. The chauffeur of Mansfield's car was burned badly on his hands while trying to remove the burning clothing from the actress. The fire was put out, but she sustained substantial burns to her body and died the following day.
Ben-Hur (1925). An early filming attempt of the chariot race was done on location at the Circus Maximus in Rome. It brought about the death of one stunt man when a wheel of his chariot broke.
Noah's Ark (1928). Three people died, one man lost a leg and a number were injured in a scene where several hundred extras were caught in the "Great Flood." The deaths were instrumental in the introduction of film safety regulations the following year.
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936). During the filming of the charge sequence, a stuntman was killed when he fell off his horse and landed on a broken sword that was lying on the field, unfortunately wedged in such a position that its blade was sticking straight up. Also, due to the use of trip wires, three dozen horses had their legs broken and had to be shot during filming, resulting in the US Congress passing laws to protect animals used in motion pictures.
The Wizard of Oz (1939). Margaret Hamilton was badly burned during a scene in which her character, the Wicked Witch of the West, "vanished" in a burst of flame and smoke. A delay in activating a trap door left her exposed to the pyrotechnic device. Her stunt double was also injured in a scene involving a smoking broomstick.Buddy Ebsen suffered a severe allergic reaction to his Tin Man makeup that resulted in a collapsed lung and lifelong breathing issues. He was unable to continue working on the production and was replaced by Jack Haley.
My Life for Ireland (1941). An anti-British propaganda film made by the Germans. During the epic final battle scene, several extras were killed when one of them stepped on a live land mine. The footage is said to have been included in the release prints, although no proof of this has been established.
They Died with Their Boots On (1941). Three horsemen perished during the cavalry charge, one of whom was extra Jack Budlong, whose horse tripped as he rode alongside Errol Flynn. As he fell forward, he had the foresight to toss his sword ahead of him. Unfortunately, it landed handle down and stuck in place. Jack was impaled on his own sword, and died in a Los Angeles hospital a few hours later.
Underground (1958). Gareth Jones was playing a character who was to have suffered a heart attack during the play. Coincidentally Jones suffered a massive heart attack and died during a live television video production off camera, between two of his scenes while in make-up.
How the West Was Won (1962). Stuntman Bob Morgan, husband of Yvonne De Carlo, was seriously injured and lost a leg during a break in filming a gunfight on a moving train. Chains holding logs on a flatbed car broke, crushing Morgan as he crouched beside them.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Actor Peter O'Toole was nearly killed when he fell from his camel. He also injured his hand during filming by punching through the window of a caravan while drunk. A brace or bandage can be seen on his left thumb during the first train attack scene, presumably due to this incident.
Thunderball (1965). While filming the scene where SPECTRE agent Angelo crashes the Avro Vulcan into the ocean near The Bahamas, the stunt double for Angelo nearly drowned when the stunt double for Emilio Largo accidentally disconnected both the prop oxygen line and the double's actual oxygen line underneath.
High Jungle (1966). On September 28, 1966, Rawhide star Eric Fleming was filming in Peru. During the final stages of shooting, Fleming's dugout canoe overturned in the Huallaga River. Actor Nico Minardos managed to swim to safety, but Fleming was swept away by the current and drowned on September 28, 1966. Fleming was 41 when he died. His body was recovered three days later.
Catch-22 (1970). Second unit director John Jordan was killed when he was sucked out of a plane while filming a bombing scene. He refused to wear a safety harness while the plane was in flight.
Insee thong (1970). Thai star Mitr Chaibancha was killed while starring as his popular character, the masked crime-fighter Insee Daeng (Red Eagle). On the final day of shooting, Mitr was required to grab a rope ladder hanging from a helicopter. However he only managed to grab the lowest rung. Unaware of this, the helicopter pilot took off until Mitr finally lost his grip and fell to the ground. The accident was caught on film and appeared in the final theatrical release. The fall was removed from the DVD release version.
A Clockwork Orange (1971). During the scene's pivotal brainwashing scene, Malcolm McDowell suffered a scratched cornea and temporary blindness from having his eyes propped open for so long.
Kamen Rider (1971). During a scene for Episode 9 ("The Terrifying Cobra-Man"), lead actor Hiroshi Fujioka fractured his thighbone in a motorcycle stunt when he rode into a telephone pole at 50 mph, forcing him out of action. Producers had to use stock and unused footage, which was dubbed by Rokurô Naya, for the next four episodes, causing a dip in the ratings. Producers eventually had no choice but to substitute him with a second character played by Takeshi Sasaki. Fujioka made a return in Episode 53 ("Monster Jaguarman - Deathmatch by Motorcycle Fight"). As neither actor could be axed, the show ended up having two heroes.
The Last Lion (1972). Sound technician James Chapman was mauled to death by a lion during production on this South African film.
The Exorcist (1973). Actress Ellen Burstyn seriously injured her back while filming a scene where she falls over backwards after her possessed daughter backhands her. The scene was left in the film.
The Bell from Hell (1973). On the final day of shooting of this Spanish/French horror film, director Claudio Guerrin Hill fell from the bell tower for which he named his film. He either jumped or fell accidentally. Juan Antonio Bardem came in to take care of the post production duties after Hill’s accident.
The Eiger Sanction (1975). A number of accidents occurred during the filming of The Eiger Sanction. A 27-year-old English climber, David Knowles, who was a body double and photographer, was killed during a rock fall, and mountaineer Mike Hoover narrowly escaped with his life.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978). The helicopter crash involving Jack Riley and George Wilson was entirely unintentional, but having not been seriously injured both actors continued by ad-libbing the rest of the scene, and ultimately it was included in the film.
Drunken Master (1978). Jackie Chan nearly lost an eye when his brow ridge was injured during a fight scene.
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978). Actor Hwang Jang Lee knocked off one of Jackie Chan's teeth after kicking him in the face during a fight scene. Chan's arm was also slashed by a sword that was supposed to be blunt, but the camera kept rolling as he was screaming in pain.
Comes a Horseman (1978). Filming the scene where Robards' character is dragged to (presumably) his death, stunt man Jim Sheppard was killed when a horse that was dragging him veered from its course and caused him to hit his head on a fence post. The scene made it into the movie, although it is cut right before the horse passes through the gate which killed Sheppard.
Steel (1979). A.J. Bakunas died doubling for George Kennedy in a fall from the Kincaid Towers in Lexington, Kentucky. Bakunas had successfully performed a fall from the ninth floor of the construction site, but when he learned that Dar Robinson had broken his record high fall for a non-film related publicity stunt, Bakunas returned to perform the fall from the top of the 300-foot (91 m) construction site. Bakunas performed the fall expertly, but the airbag split and he was killed.
For Your Eyes Only (1981). While filming a high speed chase in the bobsleigh run, the four-man bobsled came out of the run at the wrong place and hit a tree. One of its occupants, a young stuntman named Paolo Rigon, was killed. In the scene where James Bond and Melina Havelock are dragged across the ocean, the stunt doubles for both characters suffered cuts and lacerations when their backs scraped against the coral reef in the Bahamas.
Dragon Lord (1982). Jackie Chan injured his chin during a fight scene, making it difficult for him to say his lines and direct the film.
Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982). During the filming of the scene for the song "One of My Turns", in which the main character tears apart his hotel room, singer/actor Bob Geldof injured his left hand while ripping off pieces of a wooden closet door; he can be seen briefly looking at his hand. Later in the scene, he is then seen with a shirt wrapped around his hand.
World War III (1982). During filming for this made-for-TV movie, director Boris Sagal was fatally injured when his skull was severed as he walked into the tail rotor blade of a helicopter.
Coolie (1983). While filming a fight scene with Puneet Issar, Amitabh Bachchan was critically injured when he jumped over a table and the corner of the table struck his abdomen, resulting in a splenic rupture and blood loss. Filming was delayed for several months for Bachchan to recover from his injury.
Project A (1983). Jackie Chan injured his neck while shooting the film's famous clock tower fall scene.
The Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). On 23 July 1982, Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le (aged 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (aged 6) were killed by a helicopter during production when it was caught in the pyrotechnics flying low at 25 feet (8 metres). The tail rotor decapitated Morrow and Le and crushed Chen to death. The accident led to one of the most prolonged lawsuits in film history and resulted in some major changes in filming codes.
The Right Stuff (1983). Stuntman Joseph Leonard Svec died while performing a parachute jump which recreated Chuck Yeager's escape from a stalling NF-104. In real life, Yeager's flight helmet had caught fire on colliding with the ejection seat's heated exhaust in mid-air. Svec carried a smoke canister during his freefall to simulate such fire. However, this might have intoxicated the stuntman, causing him to lose consciousness. He failed to open his parachute and fell to his death.
Cover Up (1985). While waiting for an episode filming to resume, actor Jon-Erik Hexum played Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum loaded with a blank. The gunshot fractured his skull and caused massive cerebral hemorrhaging when bone fragments were forced through his brain. He was rushed to Beverly Hills Medical Center, where he was pronounced brain dead.
Police Story (1985). During the film's famous pole sliding scene, Jackie Chan suffered third-degree burns on his hands, and broke the seventh and eighth vertebrae on his spine and dislocated his pelvis.
Armour of God (1986). During the filming of a scene in which Jackie Chan jumped from a wall to a tree branch, Chan lost his grip on the branch and fell 15 feet to the ground below. He hit his head on a rock, causing part of his skull to crack and a fragment to lodge in his brain. He now has a plastic plug in a permanent hole in his skull and hearing loss in the right ear.
Maximum Overdrive (1986). Director of photographyArmando Nannuzzi was seriously injured when a radio-controlled lawnmower used in a scene went out of control and struck a block of wood used as a camera support, shooting out wood splinters. The splinters were fired at Nannuzzi's face, resulting in him losing an eye. Nannuzzi sued Stephen King on February 18, 1987, for $18 million in damages due to unsafe working practices. The suit was settled out of court.
Million Dollar Mystery (1987). Stuntman Dar Robinson died in a motorcycle accident after a dangerous stunt had been filmed and the medics on the set had been dismissed. Robinson, famous for his jumps off Toronto's CN Tower drove his motorcycle off a cliff.
No Man's Land (1987). During filming, Charlie Sheen was knocked unconscious when a squib that hardened overnight detonated at the wrong time. He sustained lacerations to his face and a loss of hearing on one ear that lasted four weeks.
The Squeeze (1987). Veteran stuntman Victor Magnotta drowned while performing a car stunt in which he drove the vehicle off a Hoboken pier and plunged into the Hudson River. Victor was pinned in the car, and could not escape before drowning.
The Sword of Tipu Sultan (1989). The largest number of on-set deaths in film history took place during the filming of this Indian made-for-TV movie. A total of 62 extras and crew members met their demise when a fire broke out, and they were trapped inside the burning film studio. Director and star Sanjay Khan suffered major burns and had to spend 13 months in hospital – undergoing 72 surgeries in that time.
Cyborg (1989). During a fighting sequence, action star Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally stabbed Jackson "Rock" Pinckney in the eye, causing him to permanently lose vision in it. Pinckney sued Van Damme in a North Carolina court and was awarded US$487,500.
Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (1989, unfinished). Director/actor H. B. Halicki was killed in Buffalo, New York, when a water tower he was planning to topple fell prematurely, hitting a telephone pole that then struck him in the head. The film was scrapped as a result of the accident.
Bikini Island (1991). Stuntman Jay C. Currin was killed the first day of filming when a stunt fall off a 55-foot cliff went wrong and he landed on some rocks instead of the airbag that had been placed to break his fall.
City Hunter (1993). Jackie Chan dislocated his shoulder while filming a stunt scene.
Crime Story (1993). Jackie Chan's legs were crushed between two cars during a dangerous stunt scene.
999 (1993). Whilst recreating a real life near-fatal parachute incident in which a parachutist tangled his equipment with the aircraft's landing gear before freeing himself, veteran stuntman Tip Tipping leapt out of a Cessna and crashed into woods near Ellingham, Northumberland, he was pronounced dead when medical staff arrived.
The Crow (1994). On March 31, 1993, American actor and martial artist Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed in North Carolina with a .44 magnum gun which was intended to fire blanks but contained a bullet left behind after a dummy round had been inserted and removed. Also, on 1 February 1993 on the opening day of filming a carpenter was severely shocked and burned when his scissor lift struck power lines.
Rumble in the Bronx (1995). Jackie Chan broke his right foot while performing a stunt. He spent the rest of the shooting time with a cast on the leg, using a sock painted to look like his left shoe.
Gone Fishin' (1995). Janet Wilder was killed and four other people, including her husband, were injured when a speedboat misjudged a ramp and landed in a crowd.
Seven (1995). In a scene where Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) chased John Doe in the rain, Pitt fell and his arm went through a car windscreen, requiring surgery. This accident was written into the script to explain Pitt wearing a cast over his arm. Coincidentally, the original script did call for Pitt's character to be injured during this sequence but not to his hand.
Ah Kam (1996). On October 1995, actress Michelle Yeoh, who usually performs her own stunts, was seriously injured during shooting of the film about the life of a stuntwoman, when she misjudged an 18-foot (5.5 m) jump off a bridge onto a truck. She fractured a vertebra and was in traction for a month. The sequence can be seen at the end of the film.
Mr. Nice Guy (1997). Jackie Chan hurt his neck when he messed up on a flip during a fight scene.
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998). During the shoot a car rolled onto two crew members, one of whom needed a leg amputation. Three months later, during filming for a car crash sequence, stuntman Bob Minor suffered severe injuries to his head.
Taxi 2 (2000). A Peugeot 406 was supposed to land in a pile of cardboard after a stunt, but missed and hit several crew. Camerman Alain Dutartre died later of internal injuries while his assistant Jean-Michel Bar broke both legs.
Pearl Harbor (2001). A stunt plane dressed like a Japanese fighter crashed during a flight over the movie set. The pilot survived the crash escaping serious injuries.
Exit Wounds (2001). During filming in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, a van was being towed along a street upside-down as part of a chase scene; stuntman Chris Lamon and another man were supposed to roll safely out, but Lamon struck his head, and died six days later.
Moulin Rouge! (2001). Nicole Kidman fractured two ribs and hurt her right knee while filming. Many of the scenes had to be shot with her sitting down in order to cover her leg cast.
Dark Angel (2002). Professional wrestler Lita suffered three cracks on her vertebrae when she performed a dangerous wrestling maneuver on a stunt double, who dropped her neck-first.
xXx (2002). Vin Diesel's stunt double, Harry L. O'Connor, was killed during filming, in a scene in which he was supposed to rappel down a parasailing line and land on a submarine but struck a bridge at high speed and was killed instantly.
Gothika (2003). Halle Berry broke her arm while filming a scene with Robert Downey, Jr. in a mental ward. In the scene, Downey was restraining Berry when he suddenly heard a pop and realized he hurt her.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004). A worker suffered severe injuries when he was thrown from scaffolding that was not properly secured on the set of the film.
Troy (2004). Brad Pitt who played Achilles had a mishap during the production and tore his left achilles tendon. George Camilleri, a bodybuilding extra, broke his leg while filming an action sequence at Ghajn Tuffieha. He was operated on the following day but suffered complications and died 2 weeks later.
Æon Flux (2005). Charlize Theron was performing backflips during filming and landed on her neck, herniating a disc close to her spinal cord. Production was shut down for eight weeks.
Cinderella Man (2005). During the first scene in the ring, Russell Crowe dislocated his shoulder. He also sustained other boxing-related injuries during filming.
Syriana (2005). George Clooney broke his spine in a stunt gone wrong. The injury was so painful that he contemplated committing suicide while recovering.
Jackass Number Two (2006). During filming of the closing scene Ryan Dunn was performing a stunt with Bam Margera in which both of them are pulled out of shot by a running horse by a rope tied around their feet. Dunn dropped straight onto his shoulder, causing damage to the muscles and leading to a life-threatening blood clot near his heart and brain.
Ocean's Deadliest (2006). On September 4, 2006, Steve Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray spine while snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, at Batt Reef, which is located off the coast of Port Douglas in north Queensland. Irwin was in the area filming the documentary, but weather had stalled filming. He decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for a segment in the television program his daughter Bindi was hosting when the ray suddenly turned and lashed out at him with the spine on its tail.
Top Gear (2006). While filming a challenge for the series, Richard Hammond crashed a dragster at 300 kph, seriously injuring his brain. His front-right tire failed on the seventh run which caused him to hit the grass and roll the Vampire he was driving. During the roll, Hammond's helmet had embedded itself into the ground, flipping the visor up and forcing dirt into his mouth and left eye, damaging the eye. Rescuers felt a pulse and heard the unconscious Hammond breathing before the car was turned upright.
The Final Season (2007). Cameraman Roland Schlotzhauer was killed during filming when the helicopter he was on hit power lines and crashed into a field. The helicopter pilot and one of the film's producers were seriously injured.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007). Bruce Willis was injured during a fight scene when he was kicked above his right eye by Maggie Q's stunt double, who was wearing stiletto heels. Willis was hospitalized and received seven stitches which ran through his right eyebrow and down into the corner of his eye. Willis' stunt double Larry Rippenkroeger was knocked unconscious when he fell 25 feet (7.6 m) from a fire escape to the pavement. Rippenkroeger suffered broken bones in his face, several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and fractures in both wrists. Due to his injuries, production was temporarily shut down. Willis personally paid the hotel bills for Rippenkroeger's parents and visited him a number of times at the hospital.
Chocolate (2008). Yanin Vismitananda and several stunt actors suffered multiple bruises and cuts while shooting the film's fight scenes. A montage of the film injuries is featured in the ending credits.
The Dark Knight (2008). Cameraman Conway Wickliffe was killed in 2007 on the set of The Dark Knight, as he rode in a pickup truck driving parallel to a stunt car; the pickup missed a 90-degree turn and crashed into a tree.
Jumper (2008). Set dresser David Ritchie was crushed to death by frozen debris as an exterior set was being dismantled.
Red Cliff (2008/2009). While filming a scene in which a small boat was set on fire and was to ram a larger boat, the fire spread quickly out of control, killing stuntman Lu Yanqing and injuring six others.
Nitro Circus (2009). Johnny Knoxville was attempting to do a back flip on a Moto X bike. He was half way into the rotation when disaster struck. He bailed, he hit the ground hard and the bike landed on top of him. The handlebars hit his crotch, leaving him with serious penis injuries (tearing his urethra). He has to flush his bladder by sticking a tube into his penis all the way up to his bladder (10–11 inches). Knoxville said the process prevented scar tissue from forming. Motocross racer Jolene Van Vugt broke her wrist after coming short of a 65-foot triple jump. She needed a metal plate attached with seven screws on her wrist and had to wear an arm cast throughout the second season.
The Tournament (2009). In a botched attempt to turn over a semi-trailer truck with an air cannon for a chase scene, a piece of iron debris flew toward the production crew and hit assistant director Shero Rauf. Rauf broke both legs in that accident, which took him almost two years to walk normally again.
The Hangover Part II (2010). Australian stuntman Scott McLean suffered critical brain damage while filming in Bangkok after a taxi he was leaning out of the window of failed to dodge another vehicle, causing McLean's head to collide with it, "leaving him with a huge gash over the right side of his head and flesh torn from his skull". Warner Bros. then issued a statement stating McLean was put into a medically induced coma, and were reportedly paying his hospital bills. McLean soon recovered, stating he had suffered "likely permanent brain and physical injuries" before suing the studio for unspecified damages.
The Eagle (2011). When filming in a freezing river, actors have a mixture of boiling hot water and river water poured down their suits to stay warm. A crew member forgot to mix the hot water with the river water during filming; as a result, Channing Tatum was scalded with boiling water that burned the skin off the tip of his penis.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). An extra was seriously injured during a stunt in Hammond, Indiana. Due to a failed weld, a steel cable snapped from a car being towed and hit the extra's car, damaging her skull. The extra, identified as Gabriela Cedillo, had to undergo brain surgery. The injury has left her permanently brain-damaged, paralyzed on her left side and her left eye stitched shut. In May 2012, it was revealed that a $18 million settlement had been reached between Paramount and the Cedillo family.
Agneepath (2012). Hrithik Roshan suffered numerous injuries during production. He sustained burns on his hands when Priyanka Chopra's lehenga caught fire. He suffered an eye injury from Holi colors thrown to his face during a musical scene. He also sustained a major back injury from lifting a 110 kg man during an action scene.
Cloud Atlas (2012). Halle Berry broke her right foot while on location in Mallorca, Spain. The filming schedule had to be altered to allow Berry's foot to heal within two-and-a-half weeks. She re-injured her foot during filming when she slipped off a rock.
Django Unchained (2012). During a pivotal scene, Leonardo DiCaprio slammed his hand on a table so hard that he broke a glass and cut his hand. Despite gushing blood, DiCaprio finished the take, which is included in the finished cut of the film.
The Expendables 2 (2012). While filming, a stuntman was killed and another was left in critical condition during a staged explosion on a rubber boat. The surviving stuntman underwent a five-hour operation which reportedly left him in stable condition. In addition, both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger required shoulder surgery after filming.
Nitro Circus: The Movie (2012). Mountain biker and freestyle rider Jim DeChamp sustained a broken vertebrae and severe head trauma as a result of a car stunt gone wrong.
Premium Rush (2012). While filming in the streets of New York City, Joseph Gordon-Levitt lost control of his bicycle and collided with the back of a taxicab before flying towards its rear windscreen. He required 31 stitches after his right forearm was slashed by the impact.
The Call (2013). While filming, Halle Berry was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after she fell and hit her head on a concrete floor while shooting a fight sequence. A spokesperson for Berry confirmed that she suffered a minor head injury and was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but she checked out healthy and was released.
Thor: The Dark World (2013). Jaimie Alexander suffered severe injuries when she slipped off a metal staircase during a rainy morning on the set. The fall caused her to slip a disc in her thoracic spine and chip 11 of her vertebrae, as well as dislocate her left shoulder and tear a rhomboid on her right side. The injuries took her out of filming for a month.
Gunday (2014). While filming a dance scene, Ranveer Singh fell off a platform and landed face-first, gashing his cheek.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). On October 17, 2013, while filming in Hong Kong, director Michael Bay was assaulted by two brothers surnamed Mak, who demanded a payment of HK$100,000 (US$12,900). The elder brother had also assaulted three police officers during the incident. Both brothers and a third man surnamed Chan were arrested on suspicion of assault, with the younger Mak also charged on suspicion of blackmail.
^Movie stuntman Jack Tyree was killed in the filming of the scene on August 25, 1981, falling 180 feet and missing a large airbag by two feet, "Stuntman dies doing dive", The Calgary Herald - Aug 27, 1981, pB-15