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Actor, stuntman, Western tutor Carl Pitti dies at 86

Actor, stuntman, Western tutor Carl Pitti dies at 86

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From The Associated Press

HEMET — Actor, stuntman and Hollywood Western coach Carl Pitti, whose six decades in Hollywood included appearances in such movies as "High Plains Drifter" and TV shows "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke" and "Little House on the Prairie," has died. He was 86.

Pitti, who retired to his 10-acre Hemet ranch in 1981, died Aug. 9 at Hemet Valley Medical Center, relatives said.

He was well-known for coaching such screen legends as Joan Crawford, who once wrote him a note reading, "if only to learn how to shoot a gun and be with you Carl, I hope I'll do another Western."

Pitti grew up in show business. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa, where his parents were appearing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and it was his father who drove close friend Will Rogers to the airport on Aug. 15, 1935, for his ill-fated flight to Alaska with pilot Wiley Post. The plane crashed, killing both men.

Carl Pitti played Burt Lancaster's orderly in "Hallelujah Trail," appeared with George Hamilton in "Zorro, the Gay Blade," doubled for Bob Hope in "Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number" and taught Glenn Ford how to shoot in "The Fastest Gun Alive."

He acted or doubled in dozens of films and tutored Robert Taylor, Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, Rock Hudson, Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger.

His most memorable roles were with Michael Landon in "Little House on the Prairie," daughter Karla Johnston told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He was Landon's coach, friend and stand-in on the popular NBC television series, which ran from 1974 until 1983.

"Michael Landon was very special in dad's life," Johnston said. "They were all like a family on that series, and when he retired, Michael gave him a huge going-away party."

He was named to the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame in 1984.

Pitti is survived by his wife of 61 years, Mickey; three daughters, Diana Riley of Simi Valley, Karla of Hemet and Paula of Lancaster; son Jimmie Jones of Hemet; four grandchildren; and a brother, Paul of Culver City.

There won't be a funeral.

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