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Veteran Stuntwoman Still Jumps, Falls, Crashes

Stuntmen and stuntwomen may have the most demanding jobs in Hollywood -- performing falls, tumbles and dives considered too dangerous for regular actors to perform. But veteran stuntwoman Sandy Gimpel is still going strong at an age when most people are retired. And as she tells VOA's Mike O'Sullivan, she has no plans to quit the risky business.

Sandy Gimpel got her start in television on the 1960s series "Lost in Space." She was offered a job standing in for a young star on scenes that were physically demanding.

"And I thought that was pretty cool. I was in my early 20s and I thought, I can do this. This sounds like fun," she recalls.

Gimpel's falls progressed to more dangerous stunts in films that included The Poseidon Adventure in 1972. Gimpel was a passenger on a sinking ocean liner.

"Well, when the water came in, it literally picked us up off of the ground and literally blew us, like this, out off the platform. It just came in with such force, and it was just unbelievable," she said.

Gimpel says high falls and fire can be dangerous, and she has suffered sprained ankles and broken ribs on stunts.

She relies on safety crews. In this year's comedy Norbit, actor Eddie Murphy, made up as an overweight woman, picks Gimpel up and hurls her into some flower pots.

She says cuts and bruises are part of the stunt business.

Gimpel says performing stunts has provided a good income and helped her raise her daughter. But she says that as a mother, she always puts safety first. "Safety is really important to me, but I don't think I could ask for a better job if my life depended on it. I love what I do."

Gimpel has made a video called Stuntblasters Workout for those less-daring people who still want to stay active.

She says, at 67, she is still living life in the fast lane.