Gil Perkins

A champion athlete and trackman in his native northern Australia, Gil Perkins always wanted to get into films; as a teenager he virtually ran away from home, taking a job as a deck hand on a Norwegian freighter. He eventually landed in Hollywood in the late ’20s, during the era of part-silent, part-talkie movies, and (because his accent was mistaken for English) he played young Englishmen in some of his first films. He soon drifted into stuntwork, regularly doubling cowboy star William Boyd and putting a red toupee over his own blond hair to double ‘Red Skelton’, among others. Some of his most notable stunt jobs were in the sci-fi/horror field. He doubled star Bruce Cabot throughout King Kong (1933), stood in for Spencer Tracy as Mr. Hyde in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) and replaced Bela Lugosi as the Monster in the climactic battle sequence of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). In addition to his feature films, Perkins turned up regularly in serials and on TV. On many occasions he worked with special effects and rigging departments, setting up large action scenes. By the 1960s he was doing more acting than stunts; he “officially” retired in 1972, although he took a number of subsequent jobs.

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