The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960 and have been held every Olympic year since then, usually in the city or country hosting the Olympic Games. A new page in Paralympic history was written when, in 1988, the Paralympic Games were held immediately following the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, using the same facilities as the Olympic Games. History was repeated in September 1992, when Barcelona welcomed the athletes of the IXth Paralympiad to twelve days of glory and spectacle that attracted over 1.5 million spectators and received unprecedented international media coverage. As Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee stated, “The Paralympic Games have been as successful as the Olympic Games.” The Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee (APOC). which was recently honored with the distinction of staging the Xth Paralympic Games to be held shortly after the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996, is committed to creating an environment of excellence where elite athletes may achieve their personal best performance.
The Opening Ceremonies for the Atlanta Games will be especially exciting for Barbara Anne Klein, a bold and beautiful Hollywood stunt women, as she has recently been awarded the position of segment producer. Her philosophy. “Believe it and you can achieve it,” goes hand in hand with the spirit of the 1996 Games.
Barbara Anne Klein: I was given the honor of segment producer/stunt coordinator for the Opening Ceremonies of the U.S. Paralympics. We are using disabled stunt performers and people who have specialty acts. For example, people who have an appendage disability use skate boards or things like that to assist them, and because of that, they become very good at maneuvering them. They can do tricks such as jumps, flips, etc. So, there are a lot of performers with disabilities who have specialty acts. They are who I am combing the country for. For example, there is a blind skydiver and a skydiving team called “Pieces of Eight.” This team is made up of 12 guys, but when you add up their parts they add up to eight. What I love about that is that I just love people who can laugh and have humor regarding their own disability. For these guys to name their team “Pieces of Eight” is just so fun and wonderful. I laugh at myself all the time about my forgetfulness or my memory disability. My brother says that I can wrap my own Christmas presents and hide my own Easter eggs.
I was run over by a car in Bangkok, Thailand which resulted in my memory loss. I broke my back, my ribs, and almost lost a leg to gangrene. I came back after six weeks of recovery in South East Asia and got some photographs developed. I had my arm around people that I must of become friends with, but I didn’t know who they were. That was scary. The closer the incidences were to the accident the further away from my memory they were. Now, every once in a while I will have flashbacks: I went to a Thai food restaurant and ate something I hadn’t had since I was in Thailand, the experience brought back an entire two days that had been washed away from my memory for a long, long time. It is a scary disability because I always wonder if I paid my rent, if t told somebody I was going to marry them, or if I took my Flintstone vita mins. It’s scary because there are people who try to take advantage of you. There were a couple of stunt men who said, “Well, Barbara, don’t you remember? We were having an affair before you left for your trip.” I thought that was so mean because I didn’t know whether or not to believe them. Six weeks after the accident I returned to the States, and two days after I returned I was asked to do the movie “Clean Slate”, with Dana Carvey. It’s a funny movie! Every day he wakes up and has to listen to a tape recording telling him who he is, who his girlfriend is, what his dog’s name is, etc. He is a secret agent, a spy or something like that. It is such a coincidence that that is the movie I was working on. Now, I wasn’t doing real ly hard stunts. I was riding as a passenger in the stunt car and later on I was doing her stunt driving for her.
Chet Cooper: Do you know about an organization called Stunt-Abilities?
BK: Yes, I do. While I was stunt coordinating for the day time comedy talk show, “George and Alana Talk Show,” I was looking for a gentleman who could double George and be his exact height and weight. The person I found was perfect, except he only had one arm. We became friends and I thought there has to be some way we can use that disability in some comedic way. So we wrote a sketch about non-smoking. At the end of the sketch I end up ripping his whole arm off. I was afraid to even present that because I thought that might be making fun of what his disability is? He said, “No. it is just the opposite. You don’t have to feel sorry for us, we’re just people like everybody else. I know my arm is missing, it’s not going to surprise me.” So, like the “Pieces of Eight” guys, to have humor about it makes everything much more balanced. He is one of the stunt men in Stunts-Ability.
I have been looking for a cause for so long which could allow me to use my stunt skills and dramatic skills to make the world a better place. Every time I play a part in a movie or double somebody, half of my earnings go toward my cause [at risk youth and the homeless]. For years I was looking for investors to produce public service messages, and that is how Paralympics found me. So, once the Paralympics is over I will have more notoriety to pursue my other causes. When you see a preview for a movie, what do you remember the most? The stunts and the humor! If we can use both of these aspects to make people remember the public service messages then it gets them talking about it, because it is memorable.
CC: Were you aware of the Paralympics before they called you?
BK: No, I wasn’t. It was such a blessing that they were interested in me. Steven DeRaleon, one of the Stunt-Ability fellas, told a producer about me. I guess the producer had interviewed a couple of people, but wasn’t satisfied with them.
CC: Is the Paralympics paying you for your services or is it strictly volunteer?
BK: None of the performers can get paid. I am being paid as a segment coordinator/stunt coordinator. But, as a performer I am not getting paid. As performers, part of the spirit of the event is that you don’t get paid. There are three major stars who will be singing, and even they are not being paid. And, there is a cast of 5,000 gospel singers who are not getting paid.
CC: Tell me a little bit about your career as a stunt actress.
BK: I don’t pursue acting jobs, I get them when they involve stunts. They have always just come to me. Mostly, I double actresses. I have doubled Dolly Parton, Demi Moore and Meg Ryan to name a few. I specialize in stunt driving, fire and heights. It is a really interesting career. I think if I wasn’t in this field I would be a fireman or a criminal [laughs]. I need constant stimulation because I get bored easily. I love what I I do, and like I said before, I want to move into producing short subject films to help children stay out of gangs and stay off drugs.