This exclusive Mayberry club man was one of history's toughest stuntmen
George DeNormand was also twice a wanted man.
On The Andy Griffith Show, George DeNormand appeared once as a member of an exclusive gentleman’s club that Sheriff Taylor gets invited to join.
Although he was portraying a posh character, DeNormand’s history in Hollywood is as one of its toughest stuntmen – a member of the Stuntmen Hall of Fame.
In the 1930s and 1940s, DeNormand was big-screen stunt double to stars like Spencer Tracey, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. In the studio, he helped to train other stuntmen and stars to do their own fighting, too, and whenever he was needed to fill in to do a backflip or two, he was on call.
DeNormand was just always willing to go even harder than even the hardest stuntmen of his time.
In the book Classic Cliffhangers, author Hank Davis wrote how DeNormand could be depended on to cover "more demanding scenes." Davis also said that in interviews, DeNormand wouldn’t complain about the wear and tear on his body, but instead about how annoying it was when the costumes he had to wear got tangled up when he filled in for a hero’s fistfight.
"Nobody in real life would wear a cape if he planned on getting into a fistfight" was how DeNormand saw it, after doubling for characters like The Lone Ranger.
During this time, DeNormand didn’t just act tough in TV and movie productions. He also became a wanted man when in 1944 he was, according to The Times-News, held by police, suspected of diamond theft. The next year, The Daily News reported he was arrested as part of an illegal ring selling counterfeit meat stamps during World War II, when portions were rationed.
The whole time DeNormand faced these charges, he continued to work, both behind the scenes and onscreen.
On TV, DeNormand’s earliest stuntwork was on The Cisco Kid, where he also appeared in bit roles in 1950.
But in his career, as he got older, fewer stunt gigs came up that he could pull off.
He started doing more onscreen acting, appearing through the Fifties and Sixties in hit shows like Adventures of Superman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Perry Mason, Batman, and just about every Western you can think of.
By the end of the Sixties, he felt his time had passed as a stuntman, only pulled in rarely to do stunt work called "Whammys."
A "Whammy" is when a stunt is required that is not deemed hazardous enough to pay for a stuntman.
It’s noted on IMDb that one of DeNormand’s last Whammys happened on The Wild, Wild West where DeNormand stepped in for a murdered toymaker, whose body was written to fall out of a closet.
This would be one of the famed stuntman’s final tumbles.
DeNormand continued acting until 1976, when he passed away from cancer. He loved the motion picture business and once he found it, he literally fought to stay in it.
Two years before his passing, he and some of his best stuntmen buddies from the early days went to their first film convention. Of them all, DeNormand was not just the one with the toughest track record as a stuntman. He was also the one, according to the 2000 book Serials-ly Speaking, with the "most humorous yarns," keeping convention-goers "constantly entertained."