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James Winburn, legendary stuntman from final clash of Carpenter's 'Halloween,' dies at 85

Winburn was a stunt performer for decades, and even directed films himself.

James Winburn

James Winburn, the stunt performer who performed the final sequence of John Carpenter's horror classic Halloween, died over the weekend in a Los Angeles hospital, Deadline reports. He was 85. 

A stunt performer, actor, and director with a career spanning decades, Winburn leaves behind dozens of credits on films and TV shows, including several collaborations with Halloween director John Carpenter. In recent years, he was a regular fixture on the convention circuit, where fans recognized him as one of several performers to play Michael Myers in Carpenter and Debra Hill's original slasher hit back in 1978. 

A stunt performer who got his start on TV series like McCloud and films like The Poseidon Adventure, Winburn was already building an impressive list of credits when he was hired to play Michael Myers for certain key stunt sequences in Halloween. While Nick Castle portrayed much of the movement and breathing of "The Shape," and actor Tony Moran portrayed the unmasked Michael Myers in one key sequence, Winburn was called upon to do the really dangerous stuff. 

Most notably, Winburn was behind the Michael Myers mask for the end of Halloween, in which Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael several times with a revolver, knocking him off a balcony. Winburn's stunt expertise allowed him to take the fall of a second story balcony and onto the ground below, securing the final moments of Carpenter's film. 

After the success of Halloween, Winburn went on to work with Carpenter on his next two films, The Fog and Escape from New York, handling stunts for both projects. He also continued to build a prodigious list of credits in both film and television, including stunt work for TRONThe Fall Guy, The Sword and the SorcererOnce Bitten, and many more. Along the way, he doubled for numerous major actors, including David Hasselhoff, Chevy Chase, Barry Bostwick, and more. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he briefly transitioned to directing, helming the films Evil AltarThe Death Merchant, and Miami Beach Cops

Winburn remained a convention regular until the end, and was even set to appear at Philadelphia's Monster-Mania earlier this month before his health forced him to back out of the event. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans. 

If you're looking for some more recent Halloween adventures, check out Halloween Ends streaming now on Peacock.

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