A. J. Bakunas
Stunt Performer, Film actor
1950 – 1978
Who was A. J. Bakunas?
Born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Bakunas quit his job as a gym teacher at Tenafly High School in 1974 and set out to break into the film industry. He did his first stuntwork for the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon. Bakunas quickly became known for expertly performing falls from great heights.
Bakunas had set a world record for a 230 foot fall from a helicopter for the film Hooper, which was broken by Dar Robinson's 286 foot fall for a non-movie related publicity stunt. Bakunas, determined to retake the record, returned to Lexington to perform a 315 foot jump from the 22nd floor of a construction site, where he had previously successfully fallen nine stories. On September 21, 1978, as his father and a crowd of about 1,000 watched, Bakunas performed the fall expertly. However, the airbag split and Bakunas died of his injuries the next day.