It was recently announced that Jay Milligan, stunt coordinator on The Man With The Golden Gun, died on 20th March. News of his death filtered in via a tribute video from the Erie County Fair, where he produced various derbies.
Milligan was raised in South Buffalo as an adopted child. Early on he developed a deep passion for cars and was always willing to try out something exceptional behind the wheel.
He was responsible for the “Astro-Spiral Jump”, which he first performed at the Houston Astrodome in 1972. That stunt caught the attention of the James Bond producers who used in Roger Moore’s second Bond film. In the film 007 is shown rolling the airborne car with Sheriff JW Pepper as his bewildered passenger. Many fans consider it as one of the best movie car stunts ever.
The stunt came about in a curious way. In 1968 Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory hired a number of stunt drivers while working on software designed to simulate car crashes. The cars driven by the stunt drivers were used to gather data to verify the software’s algorithm.
One of the maneuvers performed was a 50 foot jump which the software was found to model perfectly. So much so that it was joked at the time that they had unintentionally written a program for designing car stunts. Further than this, it proposed to design a ramp that would produce a jump and twist.
By 1970 work on validating the software was completed. At the time Milligan was producing car shows and Cornell then contacted him about using the software to design exactly such a stunt. He agreed, so the software team began experimenting with the right variables such as speed, weight and ramp design. After 33 initial runs of the software they concluded that the stunt was at least feasible. It took another 12 runs to get the design of the ramp right.
After learning of the staunt, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hired Milligan to oversee the stunts on The Man With The Golden Gun. He considered working on the film a great honour. Although he doubled Roger Moore in some stunts, it was British driver Loren “Bumps” Willert who performed the stunt in an AMC Hornet X.
Milligan leaves behind three grown children.