Johnny Kazian 1933 - 2015
Johnny Kazian, air show wing walker and Hollywood stuntman has died. He survived going over Niagara Falls and doubled for Robert Redford, James Brolin, David Hasselhoff as well as other stars but it was wing walking that brought him his greatest fame. By the time Kazian began experimenting with it in the late 1950s, it was almost forgotten. Air show performer Dave Dacy who worked with him for a decade said, "By the time he came along, they had planes that landed faster than the old barnstorming planes cruised. He found a way to bring it back at the higher speeds." Johnny even convinced Robert Redford to try it while making "The Great Waldo Pepper" in 1975. "He wanted to do everything," Johnny said adding, "They put a cable on him, and he walked out on the wing." However its all Johnny in movie. His induction into the Air Show Hall Of Fame in 2004 says the following.
Johnny Kazian was the consummate air show business professional who lived for the crowd and played for the camera and audience in a manner that impressed everyone. His showmanship and love of the “show” was always obvious. He reintroduced wingwalking to new generations, performing with air show legends Joe Hughes, Jim Franklin and Dave Dacy throughout the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and until his retirement following the 1996 air show season at age 63.
His performances were always showstoppers and he set a standard of excellence and showmanship in his craft and in our industry. He added his flair and the magical “Oh Yeah!” from the microphone as an announcer at Reno and at air shows across North America. Outside of air shows, Johnny worked in films and was the subject of numerous documentaries and TV shows. On the wing of a biplane with Joe Hughes piloting, he joined the short list of those who have gone over Niagara Falls and survived. These accomplishments, plus motorcycle firewalls, rope ladders and air-to-air transfers are all part of the Johnny Kazian legend.
He died on April 23 at the age of 81, in his Idaho home surrounded by family. Born in Philadelphia he graduated from Temple University with a degree in mechanical engineering. Johnny lived life to the fullest. He is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen, his daughter Esther, his son Tony, his grandchildren Connor, Beck, Myles, Nishan, Kalea and Peyton and his great grandchildren Bailey and Jamie.
A memorial will be held at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church at 2618 West Bannock street in Boise on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Armenian National Committee of America in Johnny’s name.
Video Highlights from Kazian's 2004 induction into the ICAS Foundation's Air Show Hall of Fame can be seen below.
Video: International Council Of Air Shows.