Fear No Evel: An Insiders Look At Hollywood

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9781929841653: Fear No Evel: An Insiders Look At Hollywood
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Thomas Lyons contributes to the book by writing the true account of how Evel Knievel attacked Shelly Saltman with a baseball bat and deconstructs Knievel's fabrications about the crime in sharp detail. The rest of FEAR NO EVEL is written in Shelly's own voice in a warm and entertaining telling of his part in many of the defining public events of our time - including promoting the legendary Ali/Frazier fights and the career of singer Andy Williams; playing tennis with Boris Yeltzin in the former Soviet Union, while bringing cellular phone service to Eastern Europe; petitioning the Olympic Committee to allow women to compete in marathons for the first time in history; putting the first live birth on television; raising money for the eradication of Polio; helping to create the first plastic credit cards; and putting lighted signs on top of taxis.

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Fear No Evel: An Insiders Look At Hollywood explains in detail about Evel Knievel's attack on Shelly Saltman with a baseball bat as told to Thomas Lyons by Shelly Saltman. Saltman's 30 year silence about the attack is finally told due to a strange event in 2006, triggering the realization for Saltman to let the world know about the truth that has been kept from the world about the attack. In the rest of the book, Shelly Saltman writes of his exciting world of the life of a world promoter. Until now, Shelly Saltman has been best known as the guy Evel Knievel beat with a baseball bat. But, What do Muhammad Ali, The Challenge of the Sexes, B'wana Don, Dr Jonas Salk and former Russian President Boris Yeltzin have in common with daredevil Evel Knievel? The answer is Shelly Saltman, the promotional wizard behind pivotal events in their lives.

Fear No Evel far transcends the amazing chapter on Knievel as the book traces Shelly's role in events in some 52 countries, focusing in on an insider's perspective of the behind-the-scenes secrets involving world leaders and super celebrities. For more than 50 very active years, Shelly has been the go-to-guy for the creation, promotion and production of some of the world's greatest events. As the "Promoter's Promoter" took on the Challenge of many events from the Ali-Frazier fight and the 1982 NFL Player's Strike to Knievel's Snake River Canyon Jump and the Birth of the Home Video Industry.

As first President of Twentieth Century Fox Sports, he brought Karate and New Gymnastics events to Television and the Public. As a creative producer, he created original Network Programming, Sports Based Series and Award Winning Game Shows.

The following information in brief form tells the story of a man who for all his working life has been a successful entrepreneur, marketer, promoter, producer, author and creator in diverse fields of endeavors covering over 52 nations worldwide. Mr. Saltman, an author and lecturer has received many accolades and earned a substantial amount of capital for his clients and has been constantly on the cutting edge of new industries. His marketing talents have been applied in such varied fields as Entertainment, Sports, Broadcasting, Retail and Catalog Products, Cellular and Digital Technology, as well as Real Estate and Development. During his career, he has worked with "Heads of States" and the "Common Man." He is goal oriented. Since 1957, Shelly has been a member of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Saltman put together a touring group of college athletes, performers and local entertainers to entertain US Veterans who were in hospitals locally and local military hospitals in 1951 while still in college. Mr Saltman acted as Packager, Emcee, Standup comic and booker. His troupe was a familiar site at Fort Devens, The Chelsea Naval Hospital, Florence V.A. Hospital, Fort Dix, Camp Drum, Camp Kilmer to mention a few. He also created, produced and performed for three years in "Shelly's Spectacle, a UMASS fund raiser which contributed thousands of dollars to the then Damon Runyan Cancer fund.

When in the service at Camp Carson, Colorado, he convinced TV Station KRDO to donate a monthly hour to a variety show to raise money for the USO, which was important in Colorado Springs. He acted a producer/MC and through Carson Special Services he used Broadway, Hollywood and Sports talents that were in the service. The late Billy Martin of the New York Yankees, reciting "Casey at the Bat" were among them in addition to numerous big recording stars and performers who were serving at the time.

In Japan, while with Armed Forces Radio and Special Services he arranged for many celebrities of the day to visit the troops in Korea, he accompanied movie star Terry Moore, Heavyweight Champion Primo Carnera, and Al Schact, the Clown Prince of Baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers to mention a few.

Professionally, he was involved in three USO Tours, the Bob Hope Tribute to the Apollo Astronauts (who were killed on the launch pad), and numerous charitable telethons.

His is most proud of three events, The 1980 Washington, D.C. salute to our Olympians (which he was one of the creators and Congress approved) after President Carter boycotted the Russian games. He produced the entire week culminating in an original variety show featuring the hottest stars of the day who had traveled to Washington as a favor to Mr. Saltman to perform at Kennedy Center. He also created a way and made happen the oral vaccination of 800,000 Ohio Citizens against Polio.

The third event took place in Baton Rouge, La. Where in the midst of Hurricane Elena, working with a wonderful partner, he was able to produce Fabian's "Good Time Rock and Roll' in a specially constructed outdoor arena, where 100,000 plus people braved wind and rain contributing countless dollars to First Lady Nancy Regan's "Just Say No Campaign." It was truly the first doo-wop show of the modern era.

The book includes many photos for many of the events

From the Author:


This book, Fear No Evel, came about because our kind and friendly neighbor Shelly Saltman was trying to make my wife Rhonda feel better.

In early 2006, Rhonda was in a slow and painful recovery after a freak accident that snapped her left leg completely in two, almost forcing its amputation. The accident broke her other leg and both of her ankles as well. After four months confined to a bed, Rhonda was just making the transition to a wheelchair, with her legs propped up in the air. Fearing that she might never walk again, she told Shelly of the metal plates, rods, and screws that were now holding her left leg together - hardware that can never be removed.

Shelly said, "Don't worry. You'll eventually be okay," and told us that his left arm and wrist had been shattered into pieces years ago and that after much time and surgeries he, a left-handed tennis player, had regained most of the use of his arm and wrist. He assured her that he too was being held together by permanent metal plates, rods, and screws.

"What happened?" we asked him.

With that, our unassuming neighbor told us the story of how motorcycle stunt rider Robert "Evel" Knievel had attacked him with an aluminum baseball bat, while two of Knievel's thug friends had held Shelly on either side. "I've heard that story," I told Shelly. "Knievel says it was just one guy holding you." "That's just another of his fabrications," Shelly told me. "But I've never publicly talked about what happened, so the media only has Knievel's side of the story."

My wife Rhonda, ever the champion of those that have been wronged, immediately suggested he write his story and that she would get it published. After a bit of convincing, Shelly agreed to such a book if I, an experienced writer and editor, would work with him on the project. Soon after, he handed me a paperback book entitled Evel Knievel On Tour, which he'd written years ago just before the attack. This was the book that Knievel claimed spurred his malicious assault on Shelly.

After reading the book, I told Shelly I needed more information on him so that I could paint a picture of the unknown man Knievel had repeatedly stated he had no remorse over harming. Shelly dug up his professional résumé, and I was frankly astonished at the breadth of his professional career as a sports and entertainment promoter and as an international business entrepreneur. When I asked for a list of some of the people and companies he's worked for and with, the list read like a who's who of famous and successful luminaries.

Shelly, who spends much of his time looking after his ailing wife Mollie - a marriage that has lasted 50 years - and telling us how proud he is of his children, and how smart and talented his grandchildren are, turns out to have been involved in some of the most famous and successful sports, entertainment, and political events in modern times.

Furthermore, he still has his hand in many international business and charitable fundraising ventures; he just doesn't wear his achievements on his sleeve. In fact you're much more likely to find him in a casual t-shirt, sneakers, and a Boston Red Sox baseball cap than in a fancy business suit.

Although Shelly doesn't like to talk about it, I know that the completely unexpected and brutal attack on him by the famous braggart and motorcycle daredevil Robert "Evel" Knievel left emotional and psychological scars that have taken years to mend. He's said that what happened to him must be something like what it feels to be a rape victim.

For my money, Knievel should have spent the past 29 years in prison for attempted murder, instead of touring the country signing autographs and bragging about his life as a thief, womanizer, and so-called American hero. But, nobody said that life was fair.

Now it's time to learn about a man who's lived an exciting life, and regularly made an effort to make this world a bit of a better place for others, a fellow who speaks well of almost every person he's ever known, and seems to always make sure that the other guys he works with get most of the credit.

Sheldon "Shelly" Saltman - dear friend and business partner to some of the richest, wisest, and most memorable people of the past five decades - has been, and remains, one of the most famous and influential people you've probably never heard of. It's time for that to change.

I think you'll enjoy sharing Shelly's inside look at such events as the Ali/Frazier fights, the NFL free-agency strike, the Olympic boycott under President Jimmy Carter, and dozens of other events that have shaped our collective popular culture.

Thomas Lyons Summer 2006


Thomas, you have asked me why over the past three decades I have not responded to the vicious attacks constantly made upon me in the media by motorcycle stuntman "Evel" Knievel. I haven't done so, because he and I know the real truth. Furthermore, I did not wish to dignify what he said with any refutation at all. Now, at your instigation, I have decided to answer him in the only way I know by having your thorough research and thorough investigation and putting the true facts down on paper.

You have told me that you have not only read my book "EVEL KNIEVEL ON TOUR" (the book Knievel says caused him to attack me), but that you also have seen his repeated diatribes against me on television. You have pointed out that his claims of what I supposedly said in my book are without merit. Neither you, nor any other person can find what he has accused me of in the book, since what he claims is not there and never was.

His unprovoked attack on me was a complete shock, since he had just asked me to handle promotion for another of his stunts. Moreover, he was my 50/50 partner. His lawyers completely reviewed my book before printing. They had dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" from the galleys. In fact his lawyer at the time, a fine gentleman out of Chicago named Fred Bezark, complimented me on my treatment and understanding of Knievel. If anything, "EVEL KNIEVEL ON TOUR" had as much malice in it as "Peck's Bad Boy" by George W. Peck, or "Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain. This means there was none!

Knievel did not hire me - as he claims - to do the promotion and publicity for the Snake River Canyon rocket car jump. My company, Invest West Sports, of which I was a partner, put up the money with Bob Arum's Top Rank in order to make the event happen.

Sam Battistone, one of the finest men I have ever worked with and the principal owner of Invest West Sports, insisted the money would be invested only as long as all parties agreed that Shelly Saltman would handle all the promotion and marketing. In such a way, Sam and my other partners Dale Marquis, Bill Berka and Harvey Bottelson felt we would be protecting our investment. I had worked with and for Bob Arum before on many events and he was extremely comfortable with this arrangement - and it worked out well. I am not going to go into the day-to-day details of the Snake River Canyon promotion in these pages. That has already been documented in my previous book. However I, in this brief prologue, wish to address the events surrounding the vicious and completely unprovoked attack on me by Knievel back in 1977.

I did the worldwide promotion and marketing of the first Ali/Frazier fight, [The Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World match of Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971], under the leadership of brilliant Jerry Perenchio. The fight was a huge success and I was proud to play a significant part. After the fight was over, the late Art Fisher and Neal Marshal, two bright and creative TV executives who had the roles of Director and Producer respectively of the Closed Circuit Telecast, wrote a book documenting what transpired entitled "The Garden of Innocence." It was a fine work and truly captured the essence of the event. Much of it detailed what I had done in the Promotion.

Therefore, I decided on all future events that I might become involved with, I would insist contractually to have the same literary right. To this end, when we did the Promotion, and as you know from my previous book, I spent approximately two solid months with Knievel doing press conferences, TV appearances and other media related necessities to achieve the success that was to happen...and it worked. I had these rights. I did not know Knievel before that event and did not see him again until the day of his attack on me. I have not seen or heard from him since, except the times when I saw him on television.

On the day he attacked me, I had just had lunch with my friend Bob Seizer at the FOX Studio Commissary. I saw Bob to his car and decided I wanted to try the new Soft Yogurt machine that had just been installed in the commissary and headed that way.

As I walked, suddenly there was Knievel in front of me holding an Aluminum Baseball Bat in his hand. At that moment, I was pleasantly surprised and started to move forward to greet him. However, I could not move forward as huge arms restrained me from behind. Then, with a face I cannot and will not ever forget... a look of maniacal rage blackening his visage. I was shocked! Then it started, the Bat swinging wildly and uncontrolled at me. That's all I remember except my utter disbelief at what was happening.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital in a foggy haze with my entire left arm elevated and in a cast, a severe headache and my body bruised and battered. My dear friend Alan Rice was at my side. I still could not comprehend what had happened and it took almost a week to understand. When I did, I guess I had the same reaction as some one who has been raped. My body had been ravaged viscously for no reason. I was to later go through a complete gamut of emotions. First, it was disbelief. Then, it was, "why me?" After that, I felt abject fear, which turned to rage and, as I understood what had transpired, pity. PITY, Not for me, but for him. He had in one foolish moment, ruined his career and changed my life forever.

When I was steadier on my feet, I decided to litigate. My wife and I interviewed several attorneys who were recommended to us. All of the attorneys had great reputations. However each attorney interviewed said he or she could do it. Yet they all talked about another lawyer who they considered the best. So I sought the best. I found him, liked him, and I hired him. I am proud to say he is still my friend to this day, I knew victory would be mine. His name is Ned Good, so how could I lose. After all, I had the perfect case: GOOD against EVEL.

I was right. We won big... $12,750,000.00 plus treble damages... or roughly Fifty Million Dollars. Today, thirty years later, Evel owes me a lot more, having never paid a cent of the judgment. We made one big mistake and it was my fault. When Mr. Good asked if I wished to sue 20th Century Fox, since they were culpable and let Evel through the Guard Gate onto the lot. I opted not to go after 20th Century Fox and he respected my decision. I had a good job, was happy in my work, and did not want to jeopardize my position. Also, I was still shaky and in no condition to make that decision at that time.

As for Knievel, among the outlandish statements that Mr. Knievel has made was that he attacked me in order to break my wrist so that I would never write again. According to my Orthopedic Surgeon, Gene Harris, who put me back together, based on the multiple fractures to my arm, the crushed bones that have never mended and still to this day, thirty years later, are held together by a steel rod and pins, my arm was broken in a way that only an attack aimed at my head could have precipitated. It was obvious to them; I had raised my arm to protect my head. If I hadn't, the Doctors believe, I would have been dead, or worse than that, as far as I am concerned, a vegetable for life. Instead of going to jail for aggravated assault, Mr. Knievel would have gone to Jail for MURDER.

Vic Wilson, who witnessed the attack and stated so in his court testimony, thought that, like so many other happenings on the streets of the FOX lot, it was a stunt rehearsal for a movie or a TV show. That is until they walked away leaving me unconscious and in a pool of my own blood...and my associate Arvin Erickson picked me up, helped load me onto a golf cart that took me to the Studio Infirmary while we waited for the Paramedics. There is much more to this part of my life, but thanks to you Thomas, you can tell the Knievel facts, but there are many more interesting things to read about other than Knievel within the covers of this book.

For exact details as to why the court awarded me so much money and what the court's opinion of Mr. Knievel was, read the court transcript of December 22, 1981. Do not listen to my words. Instead, read the official version from the Santa Monica Court. Judge Rittenband, in his decision pulled no punches in describing what had transpired.

If only four people read this book, at least my grandchildren will have documentation as to who and what their grandfather was about. This is my story. It is the story of a man, who has stayed in the shadows while being involved in countless major and minor events in some fifty-two countries over a fifty-year span. He has worked with, met, hosted and has been hosted by dictators, kings, queens, presidents, gangsters and celebrities,

It covers countless World Class and newsworthy occurrences. My job was to make "heroes out of bums," bring awareness to many whom were really good and talented, and in all cases, for a flickering moment helped to bring joy to countless thousands.

Thus, Thomas this book "Fear No Evel," at your behest, is the story of my life that continues its roller coaster ride of successes and failures. This book shows both the good and the bad...the beauty marks and the scars.

Thanks for allowing me to share it with you!

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Shelly Saltman; Thomas F. Lyons
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