by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Bob Minor doesn’t broadcast his story, but every so often the news slips out. After bowling on the same team as Minor for more than six months, Randy Page overheard a conversation last week at Winnetka Bowl that suggested Minor happened to be a celebrity of sorts. It was the first time Page had become aware that his teammate was a distinguished actor stuntman and second-unit director.
“Bobby,” Page turned to Minor, “that’s why you’re so beaten up!”
Minor laughed. He enjoys the attention. The 6-foot-2, powerfully built Minor – who looks much younger than his 73 years – is now making his mark as a bowler. He blasted a 280 game this month and is averaging an impressive 187 in league action. He clocked a perfect game in December 2013 at Mission Hills Bowl in a topsy-turvy series of 209, 300 and 147.
He uses a gentle hook to wend his ball to the pocket – almost typifying his gentle personality. Said ace bowler Russell Booth: “Bob is truly a nice man with a great sense of humor. He likes to stir up the pot with his needling.”
Top bowler Ed Chow notes that Minor’s skill level has jumped to a new level of late. “Bob’s learning a lot at his age,” Chow said. “I complimented Bob and said, ‘You’re really getting better with your practice,’ and he said he’s working on it.”
Minor’s passion is firmly in bowling and bonding with teammates and friends.
Minor still works as an actor and stuntman. Minor answered Page’s barb by saying he had challenging stunt roles in two of the “Fast and the Furious” action movies.
Minor was just touching the surface of his wealth of acting experiences that include doubling for such acting stars as Roger E. Mosley of “Magnum P.I” for eight years; Jim Brown; Fred Williamson; Danny Glover; Isaac Hayes; and Carl Weathers. Minor is a former Mr. Los Angeles bodybuilder champion as well.
As a stuntman, Minor is often called on to take roles that others consider too risky One has to have a wild and crazy side to serve as a stunt person. And Booth says there’s no doubt that Minor has that trait.
“He must be nuts to jump across buildings 11 stories high without a safety net,” Booth said.Minor says that leap was done 13 stories high. “It was a notorious jump that made the L.A. Times the next day,” says Minor proudly. The jump was performed during the filming of the 1975 action-crime movie, ‘‘Let’s Do It Again’’ with Sydney Poitier and Bill Cosby. “There were pads below, but if I would have missed, I would have been hurt pretty badly,” Minor says.
“I landed on the other side with a roll and I thanked God when I landed. I was so happy to feel the floor of the roof under my feet. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and approximately 100 people came out to watch me.”
Minor got a hug and congratulations from Poitier, the actor-director. Cosby, meanwhile, promised to take him out to dinner. The dinner, however, did not materialize.
“I’m still waiting for it,” said Minor, laughing. That’s not to say Minor hasn’t had mishaps. In fact, he sustained a serious injury during the filming of the 1998 musical-comedy film, “Blues Brothers 2000,” in Toronto. The car he was driving was to flip over multiple times. Despite his wearing a seat belt and helmet, Minor suffered an injury to the brain. He didn’t work for two years because of the injury but has made a full recovery. “It’s amazing I’m back,” says Minor, who gives thanks to the prayers of his church and friends.
Some memorable highlights in Minor’s acting-stunt career:
• He became the first African-American member of the Stuntman’s Assn. of Motion Pictures in 1973.
• He was the stunt coordinator for “Magnum P.I.” for six of the eight years the hit TV show was on the air. He also served as action director for the show.
• He’s proudest of his role in “Glory,” a 1989 war movie in which he employed about 70 people to perform stunts. The film won three Academy Awards.
Just a few weeks ago, Minor worked as an actor-stuntman in the TV series, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Minor still has found the time to hone his bowling skills and is accumulating bowling awards the way he reached milestones in his acting-stunt career.
Last year, for instance, he won the title of a senior bowling tournament at Pickwick Bowl in Burbank.
Minor, a Porter Ranch resident who’s been bowling for 13 years, says he’s “looking forward to his first 700 series and 800 after that. Injuries and having to work all the time have slowed me down.”
A wrist injury last week seemed to sidetrack Minor. In his first league game, he labored to reach 137 and his teammates suggested he may want to sit out the rest of his series to regain his health. Minor opted to continue bowling and blasted a 213 in his second game.
“I just love bowling a lot, even when in pain,” he said.