On this day, 28 years ago, H.B “Toby” Halicki died in a freak accident

It has been twenty eight years since the crash king Harold Blight “Toby” Halicki died in a freak accident while shooting the much anticipated sequel of Gone in 60 Seconds.

Known to his friends as Toby Halicki, the crash king lived his American dream. Starting as a car repairman, and escalating to his stardom, eventually becoming the writer, producer and director of the greatest chase movie ever filmed. In 1974, he wrote, directed and starred in an independent movie Gone in 60 Seconds. Halicki played a car theft/ insurance investigator Maindrian Pace who is approached by a South American cartel kingpin who offers him a huge amount of money in exchange of stealing 48 cars. The climax of the movie featured the most famous’s 40 minute-car chase ever filmed as Halicki tried to elude a horde of police cruisers through several states behind the wheel of his “Eleanor”.

Halicki starring as Maindrain Pace “Gone in 60 Seconds” (1974)

With the success of his first movie,  Halicki embarked to film The Junkman, another car chase movie that took almost five years to complete.  The Junkman was released in 1982 and featured a series of car crashes, police chases, and a twisted plot where Halicki staring in his own role as Harlan Hollis must find out who is behind the assassination plot, aimed to pin him down once for all.

Rest in Peace Toby!

Halicki later on married Dennis Shakarian shortly before he begins to film his third (and sadly) his last movie.

Unfinished, Gone in Sixty Seconds 2, promised to be huge, bigger than life budget movie. Halicki would reprise his iconic role of Maindrian Pace. His wife Dennis would have starred too. However, only portions of scenes were filmed, including, the Slicer car, escaping the warehouse and Halicki stealing a 18-wheeler, while chased by hordes of police cruisers across the streets in a scene reminiscent to the opening  truck-chase scene of Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

However, one of the climatic scene in Gone in 60 Seconds 2, involved the aforementioned [stolen] 18 wheeler raming into a series of parked cars  before hitting a water tower. However, the cables securing the tower into place, snapped prematurely, severing a telephone pole which fell on Halicki, killing the director.

Ironically, the scene of the falling tower was caught on a camera.

Halicki’s death was reported that night on KNBC 4 on August 20, 1989.

May He Rest in Peace


Author: Sofiane Madani Merouani

Up in the air. Pop Corn Lover and a Dreamer - Avid Reader, Writer and Retro Gaming Collector.

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