Sunny Daye

The name of the woman in this photograph is “Sunny Daye” a mysterious figure who has led an extraordinary life. On June 29th, 1974, at 8:30 in the evening, Sunny was sitting behind the wheel of a 1973 Pontiac on Livermore Street in Toronto, Canada with the engine running.

 Three blocks away, at the rear entrance to the Lord Kelvin Theater, the world-famous Mikhail Baryshnikov was part of a group of ballet dancers from the Kirov Ballet waiting to board a bus that would take them to Ottawa. Suddenly Baryshnikov stepped away from the group and bolted down the street leaving his fellow performers and their KGB chaperones startled and surprised.

 Having been told what sort of vehicle to look for, Baryshnikov rounded the last corner and spotted it.  As he sprinted up to the car, a man in the back seat threw open the door and the car was in motion even before the door was closed.

 Sunny, then 22 years old and an accomplished Hollywood stunt driver, sped out of Toronto and into the Canadian wilderness. Over the next 6 hours she drove 312 miles non-stop to the tiny Trans-Canadian Railroad town of Modiera, British Columbia where Baryshnikov was handed over to waiting Canadian and American intelligence operatives. With the operatives was previously defected Soviet dancer Natalya Nikolayevich. Nikolayevich and Baryshnikov had been lovers while both were performing in the Riga Ballet in the late 60s. The two of them had been planning this adventure for several years.

 The rest—as they say—is history. Baryshnikov went on to a brilliant career in the United States eventually becoming Creative Director of the American Ballet. Sunny Daye dropped out of sight for a few years working in several low-budget Canadian films before returning to Hollywood in the late 70s.

 Many people have seen Sunny’s work not knowing who was “behind the scenes.” Sunny was the actual driver of the truck in pursuit of Indiana Jones in the desert chase scene in Indiana Jones-In Search of the Lost Ark and was the real driver of the Delorean in the long shots in 1985’s “Back to the Future.”

 In the early nineties Sunny teamed up with legendary stunt man Jason Bathers to start the United Stuntman Association International Stuntman School, training young men and women to perform in some of the biggest films released in the 90s and 2000s—standing in for such Hollywood greats as Brad Pitt and Jenny Downing.

 In 2004 Sunny met internationally famous photographer and short-story writer Orion T. Holen and after a passionate, whirl-wind romance, Sunny changed her name to Joanie and the two were married in 2005.

 And the rest—as they say—is history.

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2 Responses to “Sunny Daye”

  1. Larry Blackwood Says:

    One of the things I like, and also find a little oddly disorienting, is the way you seem to weave reality with your imagination in coming up with the vignettes you write. Or at least I think that’s what you are doing! Maybe it’s all true, maybe all fiction. (I’m more comfortable than usual with making the distinction on this post for some reason.)

  2. orion Says:

    Hi Larry–thanks for taking the time to comment–especially in such an insightful manner. Yes–it’s a technique that just sort of came to me–the blend of reality with fiction/imagination. I apologize for the occasional discomfort–probably others experience the same thing–I don’t know. But I love it when one of my writer’s group colleagues asks if a character is real or not.

    A good example would be the Baryshnikov defection–that certainly happened–he did run away from the group waiting for the bus–he did run 3 blocks to a waiting car but I havn’t the slightest idea who the driver was–so why not my character–Sunny Daye?

    I’ve not read any of Dan Brown’s (DaVincy Code) books but I think he does the same thing–blend fiction with reality.

    I hope you’re reccomending my site to others. I talk you and your work up all the time:)

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