Knievel - who wore a red-white-and-blue-spangled jumpsuit for many of his stunts - was perhaps best known for his failed attempt to leap the Snake River Canyon.
With a nationwide pay-per-view television audience watching, he tried to ride a rocket-powered motorcycle across the gorge but the parachute deployed when he was only about two-thirds across.
The Skycycle X-2 crashed into the canyon wall and then landed partly in the river but Knievel walked away with only minor injuries.
"Anybody can jump a motorcycle," he once told Esquire
magazine. "The trouble begins when you try to land it."
Knievel broke more than 40 bones, including his back seven times.
|"The phrase one-of-a-kind is often used, but it probably applies best to Bobby Knievel"|
Pat Williams, Knievel's cousin
One of his most spectacular crashes came when he tried to jump the fountains outside Caesar's Palace casino in Las Vegas.
He clipped the edge of a ramp on landing and crashed onto the tarmac. The accident left him in a coma for 29 days.
Knievel's son, Robbie, successfully completed the same jump in April 1989.
The daredevil's death came just two days after it was announced that he and rapper Kanye West had settled a federal lawsuit over the use of Knievel's trademarked image in West's "Touch the Sky" music video.
Born Robert Craig Knievel in the copper mining town of Butte in 1938, he worked in the mines, served in the Army, ran his own hunting guide service, sold insurance and ran Honda motorcycle dealerships.
As a motorcycle dealer, he drummed up business by offering $100 off the price of a motorcycle to customers who could beat him at arm wrestling.
At various times and in different interviews, Knievel claimed to have been a swindler, a card thief, a safe cracker, and a hold-up man.
"The phrase one-of-a-kind is often used, but it probably applies best to Bobby Knievel," Pat Williams, Knievel's cousin, said.
"No one had more guts than Bobby. He was simply unafraid of anything."