Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Where in the World is The Human Fly?

June 23rd, 2011 · 8 Comments

Inspired by The New York Times‘ successful effort to crowdsource a solution to a Nazi mystery, I’ve decided to try something similar in these slightly less august digital pages. Instead of identifying a photographer who documented the brutality of war, my goal is to find out whatever became of Rick Rojatt, a Canadian stuntman who performed daredevil feats under the moniker The Human Fly.

Perhaps you’re familiar with Rojatt’s alter ego, as it was the basis for a short-lived Marvel Comics series in the late 1970s. While the comics made the rounds, Rojatt cashed in by traveling around North America, walking on airplanes and piloting jet-powered motorcycles. He also created for himself quite a mythical backstory, as related in this 1976 People profile:

Rojatt, a Canadian, says he once was a Hollywood stunt man—although the California union has no record of him. He also says he was in an auto accident in North Carolina six years ago which killed his wife and 4-year-old daughter and badly injured him. He had 38 operations in four years, he says, which allowed him to walk again but left him with a body that is “60 percent steel parts.” He says he conditions himself by rising at 3 a.m., running six miles and then plunging into a bathtub full of ice cubes.

But at the very height of his fame, Rojatt suddenly disappeared. The fact that he never appeared without his trusty mask made his incredibly difficult to track—he kept his face concealed even when collected his appearance fees from event promoters. Rojatt’s fate has been the subject of much speculation, the best of which is compiled here. I’m rather fond of the theory that he swapped daredevilry for folk rock, but I fear that the true explanation isn’t quite so pleasant.

I thus appeal to Microkhan readers who may have deep contacts in Canadian stuntman circles. Any idea of what Rojatt did after he ditched the mask for good?

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Mr. Shrimp

    I’m sorry I can’t help you, but this is very timely, given the FBI’s more old-fashioned “crowd-sourcing,” i.e., TV ads, that resulted in the capture of Whitey Bulger and his companion.

    The mask here is a real problem. Can’t say I’ve seen anyone in that getup recently. Good luck.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Mr. Shrimp: My fave detail from the Bulger story is how they FBI ran ads in Plastic Surgery News, because his girlfriend loved to get nipped and tucked. Pretty brilliant, and pretty foolish of the lady to be so vain about her appearance while on the lam.

  • Steven Goldmann

    Have you seen this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T78Ulnh01hg

    Take a look. Quite eye opening. There is a story behind the story… But I can tell you Rick does not want to be found.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Steven Goldmann: Wow, definitely hadn’t seen that. Will try and get this on the front page soon–good post material for a book-writing day.

    I’m eternally fascinated by people who shun the spotlight. Recognition is what so many of us strive for all our lives, yet never really garner. And then there are people who just don’t seem to care–or actively recoil from the opportunity to capitalize on the adoration of the public. An interesting phenomenon, to say the least, and one that I never tire of learning about.

  • The Human Fly, Cont’d | Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

    […] claim to have solved the mystery of The Human Fly’s identity and current whereabouts, which I wrote about a month ago, I’m happy to report that Microkhan has at least uncovered another thread to the tale. […]

  • Glen Mullaly

    Thanks for the info and links to that great short with more clips than I’ve seen in years. I was a big fan as a kid growing up in Canada, and the mystery always intrigued me. Here’s hoping the story makes it’s way into the public soon.

  • Sumner

    Also found this – an interview with the pilot of The Human Fly’s plane, Clay Lacy:

    http://www.airportjournals.com/Display.cfm?varID=0309001

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Sumner: Fantastic find–thanks for sharing. Love that detail about how The Human Fly’s legs looked after being flown through a hailstorm.

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