FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — At the end of the 1991 movie Thelma & Louise, the two leading ladies — fugitives cornered by authorities in the Grand Canyon — decide against surrendering and instead drive their 1966 Ford Thunderbird off a cliff.
One of cinema’s most iconic endings wasn’t actually filmed in the national park in Arizona — but not for lack of trying.
“We didn’t want to encourage people coming into the canyon doing what was done in the movie, so we declined it,” said Maureen Oltrogge, a longtime spokeswoman for the national park, who retired in 2014.
Nevertheless, Oltrogge said at least two people took their own lives by driving over the rim of the Grand Canyon after the movie was released, thinking it was filmed there.
The landscape in and around one of the world’s seven natural wonders has a long history of stunts being staged — or turned down.
An acrobat, a magician and overall daredevils are among those who have approached Grand Canyon National Park over the years with visions of a made-for-TV moment.
The latest came Sept. 25, when actor Will Smith celebrated his 50th birthday by bungee jumping from a helicopter. Although billed as a leap “in the heart of the Grand Canyon,” it actually took place over a smaller gorge on the Navajo Nation, a tribe whose reservation borders the east rim of the national park.
Manus declined to comment on Smith’s jump.
Smith teamed up with charity website Omaze to make his bungee jump a fundraiser.
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis’s famed drive over the rim of the Grand Canyon in Thelma and Louise was not what it seemed.