Chagrin Falls' own Ted Batchelor is claiming national fame by following his dream of being a stunt man.
Ted Batchelor graduated from Chagrin Falls High School in 1977. However, long before he graduated he began living his dream of being a stunt man. Throughout high school he pulled various pranks and stunts in sports as well as in school. He first jumped off the falls when he was ten years old. He continuously amazed his friends with stunts.
Ted first claimed fame as a junior in high school. It began as a bet in class during school. It caught on with a small group of about 20 students. As much as $400 was bet that he would not do it. Then on May 20, 1976 it happened. The first “fire-jump” was performed. Ted Batchelor lit himself on fire and dove from the falls under the Popcorn Shop. He was on fire for about 12 seconds before plunging into the water far below. He successfully jumped from the falls on fire for ten consecutive years. However, it was outlawed and he was sent to jail a few times for the stunt.
Immediately after graduation high school he went to Los Angeles in order to pursue a job as a stunt man. He lit himself on fire at stunt legend Paul Stader's Malibu home. "Paul Stader was the nicest man I ever met in the industry," says Batchelor. He starred in a few commercials and ads. Then he moved back to Chagrin Falls and went to college at Bowling Green State University. He majored in film production so he could still be involved with stunts. At BGSU he was on fire an estimated 20 times. Eventually the authorities at BGSU outlawed the fire stunts. He also jumped through glass windows as a stunt while in college.
Ted found a fellow stunt fanatic in Baltimore. They joined together as partners in doing stunts. Ted spent a lot of time in Baltimore practicing all types of stunts. It was in Baltimore where he was first injured with minor burns. He also achieved his longest time on fire while there. It was recorded that he was on fire for 57 seconds.
A few years ago Ted heard about a “Burning Man” festival in Nevada. He read about this event in Life magazine. This was the perfect chance for him to claim fame. He flew out to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. He asked if he could be lit on fire then light the giant burning man on fire. The burning man is a giant wooden structure that is lit on fire late at night after a festival of amazing and weird things. The night consists of anything you can imagine, bombs, fires, naked people, drums, wild outfits, and many other things. It ends with a naked sun goddess lighting him on fire. Then he runs up a flight of stairs to a platform and lights up the burning man in front of as many as 15,000 spectators. The main stage is loaded with fireworks and he burns and explodes all throughout the night.
Ted recommends people going to the event because it is a very special and magical atmosphere full of creativity. This festival is held during Labor Day weekend. The state has attempted to ban the party and outlaw the burning man, but they have been unsuccessful. "It is Magic" Ted says.
After college Ted started a painting company, in order to have the freedom to do stunts whenever he wanted to. He recently sold Batchelor Painting Company and applied for a job at Frank Novak and Sons Painting Company. At his job interview he laid out pictures of himself on fire and told them that he needed the freedom to do stunts when necessary. They did not contact him for several months, and eventually hired him and decided to allow him to do stunts.
In 2004 Ted set the Guinness World Record of longest full body burn without oxygen. He was on fire for an astonishing 2:38 seconds this broke Denmark's great stuntman Stig Gunther's Record of 2:06.
In 2006 gained the honor of being able to do the 30th Anniversary Fire Dive from the falls which was always one of his career goals. The fire dive anniversary went so well even though the river was rushing out of control. Check view videos section to see dive.
On September 19, 2009 Ted and sixteen others broke the Guinness Worlds Record for "Most people on fire at the same time" with 17!! The previous record was 12 by the the Spanish. They were all on fire for 43.9 seconds! a list of those on fire and thier assistants: Charles Dakota Linck (Mike Riedel), Nina Gilkey (Nancy Grabowski), Colby Forlani (Kevin Keesler), Jon Mitchell (Matt Rogers), Forest (woody) Martin (Kevin Finnerty), Jeff Germek (Todd Mclaughlin), Michael Hallock (Mike Halagan), Ralph Bosak (David Nesbit), Greg Findley (William Roddy Jr.), John Thome Jr. (Joe Constant), Mike Lawrence (Jim Hallstrom), Mark Simone (Bill Heun), Brad Theiss (Mallory Theiss), Ted A. Batchelor (Deborah Batchelor), Schuyler White (Mario Piano), Jesse Zander (Mark Cranley), Michael Andrew Bank (Chris Germek).
Ted is married to Debby and between them has six kids. However, he does not want his kids to follow in his footsteps. He does not encourage anyone to light himself on fire. He has been burnt multiple times throughout his career. No matter how much preparation and precaution is taken, there is always danger. Ted says that he will continue with his fire stunts as long as possible. However, his jumping through windows and physical stunts are coming to an end. He says that fire stunts do not take the time to recover from physically as jumping through a window does. That is why he will continue with fire stunts. Ted has always loved to do stunts and followed his dream throughout his life. He emphasized to everyone, “Follow your dream and do something you enjoy.”