Yerkes, Brayton-Walter (Circus Arts Coach Of The Year 2024)

Circus Ring of Fame Wheel Plaque

Yerkes, Brayton-Walter (Circus Arts Coach Of The Year 2024)

Circus Profession: Trapeze Artist, Aerial Coach, Stuntman

Bob Yerkes Circus Ring Of Fame Foundation 2024 Willie Edelston Coach of the Year Award Winner


Circus artist and stuntman Brayton “Bob” Yerkes, born in 1932, started tumbling down Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach at age 11 and ran away to join an acrobatic troupe with Clyde Beatty Circus at age 15. Yerkes formed several trapeze acts for the circus including the Flying Alexanders and Flying Artons. He began his movie stunt career in LA in 1948 and split his time during between circuses and movies. Yerkes is legendary for 70 years of movie stunts, doubling for such stars as Paul Newman and Arnold Schwarzenegger among others, and is highly regarded in the film industry. Over the years Yerkes coached an endless number of celebrities for TV’s “Circus of the Stars” in the 70’s and 80’s. Yerkes became the movie and TV industry’s “go to” advisor for circus themed films and TV shows. He received the World Acrobatics Society Lifetime Achievement Award-Gallery of Acrobatic Legends.

Bob Yerkes: The Stuntman Who Defied Gravity and Defined Hollywood

Bob Yerkes, the iconic stuntman whose name has become synonymous with Hollywood daring, was born Brayton Walter Yerkes on February 11, 1932, in Los Angeles County, California. His journey into the world of stunts began at a tender age when he started honing his skills at Santa Monica Muscle Beach at just eleven years old. By fifteen, Yerkes had already made a bold move, running away from home to join the Clyde Beatty Circus as part of an acrobatic act.

Returning to Los Angeles in 1948, Yerkes made his cinematic debut in “Julia Misbehaves,” marking the start of a dual career that saw him splitting his time between the circus ring and the silver screen throughout the 1950s. He showcased his talents with Ringling in 1957 and 1958, further cementing his reputation as a legend in the world of motion picture stunts.

Over a career spanning more than seven decades, Yerkes has doubled for Hollywood’s finest, including Paul Newman, Robert Duvall, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. For over twelve years, he shared his expertise by training a multitude of celebrities in circus acts for the “Circus of the Stars” television specials during the 1970s and 1980s. In his backyard in Los Angeles, California, Yerkes has mentored countless stunt performers in circus skills and served as a circus advisor for numerous films and TV shows.

Yerkes’ contributions to the industry have not gone unnoticed. He is the recipient of the World Acrobatics Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the Gallery of Acrobatic Legends and is a respected member of The Stuntmen’s Association.

Residing in Northridge, California, Yerkes continues to inspire and coach the next generation of stunt performers and actors in his backyard circus. Yet, despite his unparalleled contributions to the circus world, he remains surprisingly absent from the Circus Ring of Fame—a testament to the industry’s oversight.

A Personal Tribute from student and stuntwoman Darlene Ava Williams:

I owe my entire career in the film and TV industry to this remarkable man. Uncle Bob, as I fondly call him, knew my parents before they were married and watched me grow up in the circus world. He and my father even performed together in a flying trapeze act.

Bob’s passion for coaching was relentless. Whether it was the flying trapeze, trampoline, Spanish web, Russian swing, teeterboard, wire walking, or risley, you could always find him in his backyard, imparting his wisdom to aspiring movie stars and stunt performers alike. For over six decades, Yerkes has been the go-to expert for circus arts in Los Angeles, serving as a technical advisor on films and TV shows featuring circus scenes, all while excelling as a top stuntman and coordinator.

Among his many achievements, Bob was instrumental in making Wonder Woman, Linda Carter, soar through the air using the Russian swing—a feat of which he should be immensely proud.

So, here’s to you, Uncle Bob. Thank you for shaping my career, for helping countless others achieve their dreams, and for dedicating over 60 years to coaching in circus arts—all without expecting anything in return. Your legacy is unmatched, and there will never be another like you.