Mitr Chaibancha first found fame as a champ of Thai boxing. Strikingly tall, as well as dark and handsome, he landed his first role in his early 20s. Movie magic quickly ensued. In the 14 years between 1957 and 1970, Chaibancha appeared in 266 released films, typically working on multiple projects at a time [source: ThaiWorldView.com].
Although he appeared in romances and musicals, it was as an action-adventure hero that he became a Thai household name, and a national treasure. Even the Queen of Thailand declared herself a fan [source: ThaiWorldView.com].
Chaibancha stayed in boxing shape, and took pride in performing his own stunts. On Oct. 8, 1970, while shooting the finale of what became his final movie, Chaibancha caught a rope ladder dangling from a helicopter, intending to ride off into the sky. For reasons unknown (some speculate his grueling schedule had caught up with him) the actor lost his grip as the chopper ascended. Chaibancha, 36 years old at the time, fell some 300 feet (91 meters) to his death. Final cuts of the movie "Insee Thong," ("Golden Eagle" in English) preserved the accident caught on film upon its release in 1974, though later versions removed the incident. Tens of thousands of fans lined the Bangkok streets for Chaibancha's cremation ceremony [source: ThaiWorldView.com].
Today, a shrine near the spot where Chaibancha died honors his memory. The same can't be said of recording technology. Only about 95 of his films remain, many in poor quality. They were shot using 16 mm film, with no negatives saved; copies must now be made from increasingly worn originals [source: ThaiWorldView.com].