The movie “The Great Escape” (1963) provided one of the most iconic pictures in the motorcycle world. The finale of the movie was when the main character, played by Steve McQueen, escaped from a German concentration camp in WWII by jumping a motorcycle over a barbed-wire fence. Often referred to as “the jump” scene, this stunt provided this cool black and white picture.
Many people thought that the star, Steve McQueen, who was an accomplished rider himself and known for doing his own stunts, did “the jump” in the finale, but it was actually Bud Ekins. Although McQueen did all of the other riding and stunts in the movie, the producers insisted that McQueen was too valuable to the film to risk getting injured, so Ekins was hired.
Notably, Ekins did “the jump” in one take. He was paid $1,000, which was the highest pay for just one stunt at the time.
Not only was Ekins disguised to look like McQueen, but the bike in the final scene was also something different then what it appeared. The motorcycle McQueen was riding right up until “the jump” was a DKW RT 250, but what you see Ekins jumping over the fence is a Triumph TR6 Trophy 650cc.
Both McQueen and Ekins are in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, in part because of “the jump”, but also for their riding and storied careers. Let us know your thoughts on “The Great Escape” and their careers on social media.