Fall Girl

My Life as a Western Stunt Double


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About the Book

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, acclaimed horse trainer and show rider Martha Crawford Cantarini was among the busiest of Hollywood’s elite corps of female stunt riders. She was the regular stunt double for such actresses as Eleanor Parker, Anne Baxter and Shirley MacLaine, appearing in films ranging from Elvis Presley’s debut feature Love Me Tender to the epic Western The Big Country. Martha also hosted a Las Vegas television program in the 1960s, while her palomino Frosty gained fame as “the gambling horse” after rolling a seven at the Thunderbird Casino craps table.
This fascinating insider’s memoir of the American entertainment industry recounts Martha’s personal and professional associations with Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, Jean Simmons, and other Hollywood luminaries.

About the Author(s)

Martha Crawford Cantarini has been honored with the Golden Boot Award and was inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame. She lives in British Columbia.
Chrystopher J. Spicer has written extensively about Australian and American film and history. He teaches writing and communication at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Martha Crawford-Cantarini and Chrystopher J. Spicer
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: 38 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4753-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5597-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Prologue      1

Preface      3

1. Riding to Hollywood      5

2. Yellow Sky      25

3. Flying High      31

4. Higher Learning      38

5. Interrupted Melody      42

6. Texas Lady      56

7. Coming Back      65

8. The Rains of Ranchipur      73

9. Love Me Tender      81

10. The King and Flicka      90

11. Dakota Incident      104

12. My Tin Star Year      112

13. The Seventh Sin      127

14. April Love      137

15. The Big Country      143

16. The Sheepman      154

17. The Law and Jake Wade      164

18. Ride a Crooked Trail      176

19. It’s All in the Game      182

20. Las Vegas      189

21. Thunderbird      197

22. The Horse of Many Miracles      205

Epilogue      212

Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

“sweet, insightful and fun autobiography of stunt double/stand-in Cantarini…moving…this book has much to offer fans of the Golden Age…valuable…soulful magic…I’m thankful for this book in which she and her co-writer tell her story so beautifully”—Classic Images; “fascinating…captivating…not to be missed”—Western Clippings; “a great book”—b-westerns.com; “I knew when I was asked to do The Big Country that I needed a good stunt double. Well, I got her. I got the best…Martha Crawford.”—Jean Simmons, academy award-nominated actress; “Martha Crawford (Cantarini) has led a remarkable and rich life, one interwoven with those of many special horses. Everyone would enjoy the stories she has to tell.”—Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, An American Legend; “knowing Martha and her skills on a horse makes it all the more thrilling to see the fruits of all her labor and love of horse’s and her contribution in film finally come full circle.”—Frank Stallone, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated musician and composer: polo player and horseman.