Jeannie Epper, Stunt Double to the Stars, Is Dead at 83

Jeannie Epper had at least 100 screen roles, maybe even 150 — no one is quite sure. But because she was a stunt double, galloping on horseback, crashing cars and kicking down doors for the stars of films and television shows, hers was not a household name.

In her heyday, however, Ms. Epper was ubiquitous. She hurtled through the air most weeks as Lynda Carter’s stunt double on the hit television series “Wonder Woman” and mimed Ms. Carter’s leggy lope. She tumbled through a scrum of mud and rocks as Kathleen Turner’s double in the 1984 comedy-adventure film “Romancing the Stone,” which also starred Michael Douglas. She threw punches for Linda Evans in one of her many ballyhooed cat fights with Joan Collins on the frothy long-running 1980s nighttime soap opera “Dynasty.”

And, in what she often said was her favorite stunt — or gag, to use the industry term — Ms. Epper skidded a Corvette into a 180-degree turn as Shirley MacLaine’s character in “Terms of Endearment” (1983), neatly hurling Jack Nicholson’s double into the Gulf of Mexico.

Ms. Epper, whose bruising career spanned 70 years, died on Sunday at her home in Simi Valley, Calif. She was 83.

Her daughter, Eurlyne Epper, confirmed the death. She said her mother had been ill for some time and caught an infection during a recent hospital visit.

Ms. Epper, second from the left, in 1960, next to her husband at the time, Richard Spaethe, and their son, Richard. Her brother Tony and her sister Stephanie, also stunt performers, are sitting next to her on the fence. Another stuntman, Dick Hock, stands next to them with his wife, Margo, and their son, Johnnie.Credit…Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries — Corbis, via Getty Images
Back to top button