Ryan Matthew Dunn (June 11, 1977 – June 20, 2011) was an American stunt performer, television personality, actor, comedian, and one of the stars of the reality stunt show Jackass.
Dunn rose to fame in the late 1990s as a member of the CKY crew with his long-time friend, Bam Margera, for their extreme stunts and pranks recorded on camera, which led to the rise of Jackass. He also hosted the TV series Homewrecker and Proving Ground, and appeared in the feature films Blonde Ambition and Street Dreams, as well as in Margera’s films Haggard and Minghags. Dunn died in a car crash in 2011 at the age of 34.
Dunn was born in Medina, Ohio, and spent much of his childhood in Brecksville, Ohio. He grew up in Williamsville, New York, before moving to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he went to West Chester East High School and where he met fellow Jackass star Bam Margera on the first day of school.
Dunn took part in the characteristic stunts that made Jackass famous, and featured in three released films, Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two and Jackass 3D. In 2006, Dunn and Bam Margera participated in the Gumball 3000 road rally in Margera’s Lamborghini Gallardo. He later went on a tour with Don Vito called “The Dunn and Vito Rock Tour” for which the DVD was released on March 20, 2007. Dunn and Margera again participated in the rally in 2008.
Bam Margera stated during a December 2, 2008, radio interview with Big O and Dukes of 106.7 WJFK-FM, that he and Dunn would be going to Italy to film Where the F*%# Are My Ancestors. That same month, Dunn appeared on the episode “Smut” of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in December 2008. He is also featured in a movie called Street Dreams which was released in spring 2009. He co-starred along with Rob Dyrdek and Paul Rodriguez Jr. Dunn was also featured on a show with fellow Jackass star Bam Margera about them traveling through Europe in a Viva la Bam-like show called Bam’s World Domination for Spike. He appeared in Jackass 3D, which was released on October 15, 2010.
Dunn co-hosted G4’s Proving Ground along with Jessica Chobot, which made its premiere on June 14, 2011, six days before his death. However, according to a G4 spokesperson, the channel decided to postpone the airing of further episodes. The spokesperson added, “The show is off the schedule as of today until we discuss next steps.” On June 27, G4 announced they would air the remaining episodes starting on July 19, 2011. At the time of his death, Dunn was working on the film Welcome to the Bates Motel. The film was later renamed The Bates Haunting and was released in 2013.
From 2002 to his death, he was in a long-term relationship with Angie Cuturic, who had a part in Margera’s directorial debut Haggard: The Movie and later Minghags. Dunn had several tattoos of Cuturic, including in his inner arm and left ring finger.
During shooting of the closing scenes for Jackass Number Two in 2006, Dunn injured his shoulder during one of his final bits, in which he and co-star Bam Margera are pulled out of shot by a running horse by a rope tied around their feet. Dunn dropped straight onto his shoulder, causing damage to the muscles and leading to a blood clot that was at one point life-threatening, due to its proximity to his heart and brain. While seeking treatment for it and Lyme disease, Dunn became depressed, eventually cutting off all contact with his friends, co-workers, and others for nearly two years, and did not participate in Jackassworld.com: 24 Hour Takeover, or any subsequent events related to the films and series. He eventually returned to the Jackass cast in the production of Jackass 3D and Jackass 3.5 later saying that he was happy to rejoin the cast and had more enjoyment working on Jackass 3D than any previous film endeavors.
On June 20, 2011, at around 3:30 a.m. EDT, Dunn and Zachary Hartwell, a production assistant on Jackass Number Two, were returning from Barnaby’s West Chester, a West Chester bar, in Dunn’s Porsche 911 GT3 when Dunn veered off the road and struck a tree, after which the Porsche burst into flames in West Goshen Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Both Dunn, who had turned 34 nine days prior, and 29-year-old Hartwell were killed in the crash. Dunn is buried at Highland Drive Cemetery in Brecksville, Ohio.
Hours before the crash, Dunn had posted a photo to his Twitter account of himself and Hartwell drinking at said bar. He was identified in the police report as the vehicle’s driver, and a subsequent toxicology report showed a blood alcohol level of 0.196 g/dL – more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08%. The police report stated “speed may have been a contributing factor in the crash” and preliminary investigations suggested the car had been traveling between 132 and 140 miles per hour (212 and 225 km/h) in a 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) zone.
Prior to the drunk driving crash that resulted in his death, Dunn had been convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol, resulting in his completing a treatment program as part of his sentence. “In 2005, Dunn was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and entered a first offender’s program that allowed him to clear his record after a certain period of good behavior,” according to Patrick Carmody, Chester County Assistant District Attorney.
Wrongful death lawsuit
In August 2012, the parents of Zachary Hartwell filed a civil suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, naming the co-administrators of Dunn’s estate as defendants, along with Barnaby’s West Chester. The suit claims negligence and recklessness, as well as wrongful death in the incident that killed Hartwell.
The plaintiffs claim that Dunn displayed negligence and recklessness in failing to have his vehicle under adequate and proper control, operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol, operating his vehicle at an excessive speed and violently veering off a road and into a tree, among other alleged transgressions. They are seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, as well as interest, court costs and “delay damages as the law may allow.”
Hartwell’s parents are seeking to recover from Dunn’s estate, the costs of their son’s funeral, wages due for his behind the scenes and stunt work on various Jackass projects, the projected loss of income from his premature death, pain & suffering, and other damages but do not specify an amount.
Dunn is remembered by friends and fans alike as the “go-to guy for outrageous stunts that even such stalwarts as Steve-O weren’t willing to try” and “the kind of guy who would do anything for a friend,” gaining the nickname “Random Hero”.
Following the news of his death, Dickhouse Productions and the producers of the show released the following statement:
I don’t really know what to say right now everybody, because the sadness is overwhelming, but today we lost one of our own. Our brother Ryan Dunn has passed. He died in a car wreck in West Goshen, Pennsylvania this morning at 3 a.m. that’s tough to write. Our hearts go out to his family and his beloved Angie. Ryan will be missed and remembered by us all. Thanks for the kind words of support everybody.
Many celebrities expressed their grief and condolences on Twitter, including Sofia Coppola, Tom Green, Carey Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Tony Hawk, and his Jackass cast members.
Kings of Leon also paid homage to Dunn at their London Hyde Park concert by dedicating their song “McFearless” to him. Skrillex dedicated his remix of the song “Cinema” to Dunn after a moment of silence. Alkaline Trio also dedicated their song “Goodbye Forever” to Dunn on their fifteen-year anniversary tour. Singer/songwriter Roger Alan Wade wrote and composed the song “The Light Outlives the Star”, while also dedicating it to Dunn. Occasional Jackass member Loomis Fall also wrote the song “Bid Farewell” in memory of Dunn. Both songs were used in a music video tribute by Dickhouse Productions for its official website.
Dunn also came in at number three in top trending searches of 2011 on Google’s Zeitgeist report following his death.
On November 28, 2011, MTV aired an hour-long tribute to Dunn, where several details of his life previously unknown to the public were revealed as well as never-before seen stunts he performed. Dunn’s parents, sister, friends and both Jackass and Viva La Bam cast mates recalled his early beginnings to final months.
The 2013 film Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is dedicated to him.
|1999||Landspeed Presents: CKY||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2001||CKY Documentary||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2001||Don’t Try This at Home – The Steve-O Video Vol. 1||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2002||Criminal Mischief||David Smith|
|2002||Jackass: The Movie||Himself||Writer|
|2002||Don’t Try This at Home – The Steve-O Video Vol. 2: The Tour||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2002||CKY4: The Latest & Greatest||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2003||Haggard: The Movie||Himself|
|2003||Steve-O: Out on Bail||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2004||Client 3815||Jackson||Short film|
|2005||A Halfway House Christmas||Buzz|
|2006||Jackass Number Two||Himself||Writer|
|2006||The Dudesons Movie||Himself|
|2007||3000 Miles||Himself||Direct-to-video documentary|
|2008||Dunn & Vito’s Rock Tour||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2009||Minghags: The Movie||Tucker|
|2009||Jackass: The Lost Tapes||Himself||Direct-to-video release|
|2011||Close-Up||The Drug Dealer|
|2011||Living Will||Belcher||Producer; posthumous release|
|2012||Booted||The Health Inspector||Posthumous release|
|2012||The Bates Haunting||Angry Customer||Posthumous release|
|2013||Earth Rocker||Himself||Clips; posthumous release|
|2002||Jackass Backyard BBQ||Himself||TV movie|
|2002||MTV Cribs||Himself||October 23, 2002 episode|
|2003–2006||Viva La Bam||Himself||41 episodes|
|2005||Commando VIP||Himself||6 episodes|
|2006||The Dudesons||Himself||1 episode|
|2007||Bam’s Unholy Union||Himself||3 episodes|
|2007||Crank Yankers||Himself (Voice)||Episode 4.6|
|2008||Jackassworld.com: 24 Hour Takeover||Himself||Television special|
|2008||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Riley Slade||Episode: “Smut”|
|2010||The Dudesons in America||Himself||Episode: “Winter Games”|
|2010||Bam’s World Domination||Himself||Television special|
|2011||Proving Ground||Host||9 episodes|
|2011||Minute to Win It||Himself||1 episode|
|2011||A Tribute to Ryan Dunn||Himself||Archive footage|
|2014||CKY: The Greatest Hits||Himself||Archive footage|
|2007||Jackass: The Game||Himself||Voice|