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October 17: Evel Knievel’s Birthday


It’s Evel Knievel’s birthday. Born in 1938 in Butte, Montana, the motorcycle daredevil defined all that is daring, courageous and dangerous for at least two generations of Americans. And when I say dangerous, I’m not just talking about his motorcycle jumps. You didn’t want to mess around with Evel, as a Hollywood producer found out in 1977 when Evel jumped him with a baseball bat in the parking lot of 20th Century Fox. The FBI tried hard to roll that act of revenge and other assorted assaults into a racketeering charge, but aside from a 6-month stint in jail for the aforementioned baseball battery, the daredevil managed to keep one fast step ahead of the Feds. So did Mr. Knievel like a drink? He did. He averaged a half a fifth of whiskey, usually Wild Turkey, and a six-pack of beer a day. Before every jump, he would knock back a shot of Wild Turkey. For good luck. Sometimes he would knock back more than one if he felt he needed extra luck. His favorite cocktail? A whiskey, beer and tomato juice combo called the Montana Mary. Fun fact: That diamond-studded cane he carried around? Its center was hollow and usually filled with Wild Turkey. And sometimes, a sword. Depending upon what kind of mood he was in. And that, my friends, is as American as a man can get.



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