The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Evel Knievel

As documented by Biography, Evel Knievel was born Robert Craig Knievel Jr. on October 17, 1938, in Butte, Montana. A hub for copper mining, Butte in the early 20th century more closely resembled a Wild West boom town than a modern, industrial city.

Knievel’s parents, Robert Knievel and Ann Knievel (née Keough) married young. Robert Jr, called “Bob” by his family, was the first of their two sons. Brother Nic came less than a year later. As detailed in biographer Leigh Montville’s “Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel,” Bob Sr., just 21 years old, wasn’t cut out to be a father again or, for that matter, a husband to 17-year-old Ann. The son of Butte tire salesman Ignatius “Iggy” Knievel, Bob had a reputation as a philanderer with little regard for responsibility. While pregnant with Nic, Ann decided she had enough. After delivering a second son, she filed for divorce.

Free at last, Bob Knievel took off for California where he worked as a bus driver and raced cars. Ann dropped Bob Jr. and Nic off with Bob Knievel’s parents and took off for Reno, Nevada. Now in their late 40s, Iggy Knievel and his wife Emma were faced with raising young children once again. The elder Knievels, especially Ignatius, were hardly up to the job. Suffering from what would later be defined as bipolar disorder, Ignatius would go for months without speaking. Emma, an intelligent woman who loved books, was not equipped for life with two rambunctious boys.

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