Deaf Stuntwoman Kitty O'Neil Dies at 72
Stuntwoman and speed racer Kitty O’Neil died at the age of 72, according to The New York Times, on Friday. O’Neil, who was deaf, died of pneumonia. O’Neil crushed records in both high-speed driving and stunts for Hollywood movies and shows.
O’Neil lost her hearing when she was a few months old due to a high fever. Her life was the subject of the movie “Silent Victory: The Kitty O’Neil Story” in 1979. She was portrayed by actress Stockard Channing, and played Channing’s stunt double.
O’Neil worked as a stuntwoman on multiple popular movies and TV shows, including “The Bionic Woman,” “Wonder Woman” and “The Blues Brothers.” While working as a stuntwoman, leaping off rooftops and helicopters, O’Neil battled cancer and had two operations.
In 1976, O’Neil set the record for the fastest land-speed for women. She traveled at an average of 512 mph in a rocket-powered, three-wheeled vehicle called The Motivator. Her record, 200 miles faster than the previous record, still stands today.
Fans reacted to her death on Twitter and shared condolences, including actress Marlee Matlin.
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) November 5, 2018
R.I.P. Kitty O'Neil, the 1st standout female stuntperson in Hollywood. She worked on THE BLUES BROTHERS, THE OMEN 2, AIRPORT '77, and for the king of stunt work, Hal Needham, in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT 2. Oh yeah, and she was deaf. She deserves a biopic starring @EllenPage, stat. pic.twitter.com/DiA2qUFCf7
— H. Perry Horton (@hperryhorton) November 6, 2018
Kitty O'Neil #Rip She became deaf as a baby, as an adult she set the women’s landspeed record & was a badass stunt woman with her own Barbie doll! ???????? A true Wonder Woman! #StandUpForStunts #KittyOneil @StuntsUnlimited via @washingtonpost https://t.co/kRCcQMGR8i pic.twitter.com/S01fXhVnof
— Megan Hubbell (@MeganHubbell) November 6, 2018
R.I.P. Kitty O'Neil. Condolences to all family, friends and all those that had the honour of knowing and working with her. A true inspirational person. Not to mention a fantastic role model to females too. A complete LEGEND !!!
— Stefania Steward (@StewardStefania) November 7, 2018
Photo via Twitter