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Kitty O’Neil – The journey of the world’s fastest woman

BiographyKitty O'Neil - The journey of the world's fastest woman

The accomplishments of Kitty O’Neil in real life eclipsed all of Wonder Woman’s breathtaking performances on film. The well-known stuntwoman, who passed away on 2 November 2018 at the age of 72, broke world records on land, water, and in the air in addition to playing Lynda Carter’s double in the 1970s television series. O’Neil previously remarked, “I simply adore the rush of speed. It gives me chills.” She demonstrated her stunt prowess on television and in films like Smokey and the Bandit II, Airport ’77, and the Blues Brothers, bravely suffering flames, falls, crashes, and explosions. She made history by being the first female member of Stunts Unlimited, a renowned company of Hollywood stunt performers. Her life was more remarkable than the tales of the celebrities she played a double for in many respects. 

Records and achievements

O’Neil established herself as the world’s fastest woman on December 6, 1976. In the Alvord Desert in Oregon, she achieved a land-speed record of 512.710 mph while operating the Motivator, a three-wheeled rocket car with a mind-boggling 48,000 horsepower of hydrogen peroxide. Amazingly, that record is still valid today. She set speed records on the sea, reaching 275 mph on the jet-powered boat Captain Crazy and traveling at 105 mph on water skis. When Kitty O’Neil, who was costumed as Wonder Woman, sprang from the top of the Valley Hilton hotel onto an airbag on the terrace below, she established a high-fall record of 127 feet. If I hadn’t struck the middle of the bag, I probably would have been murdered, she frankly revealed to the Washington Post. Yet by jumping from a helicopter at a height of 180 feet, she beat her own record. She stated that the airbag was hardly bigger than a postage stamp at that height.

O’Neil had a terrifying collision in 1978 while operating a rocket-powered automobile for a Super Stunt segment; this incident was perhaps the most dangerous one of her career. The biggest obstacle to her advancement, though, was sickness rather than an injury. O’Neil had unyielding resiliency, though, and he used every failure as motivation to succeed. Kitty o’Neil was raised by her Cherokee mother after losing her father in an aircraft accident as a kid. She was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1946. Deafness brought on by a high fever from measles and mumps became a motivation for her to do more rather than a barrier. She enjoyed playing sports and studied the violin and piano. 

“In 1977, she said, “My mother pushed me to lip-read, but she didn’t push me into sports—I did that on my own. Being deaf helped me to think positively. You must show that you are capable of anything.” She excelled at diving as a result of this mentality, winning multiple prizes that her coach Sammy Lee compared to “hungry fish” acquiring them.

Overcoming after injury

In in 1964, while preparing for the Olympics, she broke her wrist and developed spinal meningitis. It appeared for a while that she might never be able to walk again. She nonetheless overcame all chances, only to experience cancer twice in her twenties. kitty O’Neil made the decision to pursue speed instead of strength after learning that she lacked the physical prowess to pursue a career in sports. She entered motorbike and vehicle races, including the legendary off-road event, the Mint 400. She recovered two severed fingers inside her gloves after suffering a horrific collision during a motorbike race. According to the legend, a fellow competitor called Duffy Hambleton helped her but insisted on taking her to the hospital for reattachment rather than letting her finish the race. Other reports state that she eventually wed Hambleton and stopped competing in racing. The alleged union, if it ever took place, was most likely brief. She showed a reporter her scrapbooks in 1988, where they included a photo of her alleged “spouse” with his face scratched out and the words “not real” written next to a news article that highlighted his influence on her work. It is probable that she met Hal Needham, a skilled stuntman whom she credited with educating her in the trade, through Hambleton. 

Career in Hollywood

Despite the fact that women had been doing stunts since the beginning of Hollywood, starting with the heroines of silent-era serials, males continued to predominate the industry. The majority of the time, male stunt performers filled in for female actors as doubles, and white stunt performers used makeup to impersonate actors of color. Over an extended period, there were no training or safety standards. The Stuntwomen’s Association was founded in 1962, six years after the Stuntmen’s Association. The development that pulled doubles out of the shadows and gave them some glitz and legitimacy to a profession that producer Saul David famously referred to as “the industry’s plebeian jocks” happened in the late 1960s. Midway through the 1970s, having a female stunt double like the bold and little O’Neil was still unusual. kitty O’Neil’s ground-breaking accomplishments made the idea that women couldn’t pull off feats inadmissible. 

Popularity of Kitty o’Neil

Naturally, adrenaline addict O’Neil enthusiastically embraced her profession and received wide-ranging media coverage for her daring escapades. In fact, O’Neil rose to fame on her own, and her young fans could honor her as a role model by purchasing a limited-edition Barbie doll dressed in a chic red scarf and yellow jumpsuit. In the made-for-television movie Quiet Victory: The Kitty O’Neil Story from 1979, Stockard Channing played her. The movie’s executive producer was Hambleton, and O’Neil naturally did some of the stunts herself. 

Yet, O’Neil’s life was anything from simple; as a result, she gave up stunt and speed work in 1982. She was mentally and physically drained, especially after seeing so many of her coworkers get hurt or worse while doing their jobs. Later in life, she made Eureka, South Dakota, her home, where a sizable component of the community museum currently houses relics from her incredible career. 

Many hypotheses have been put up regarding O’Neil’s exceptional strength, speed, and capacity to withstand endless obstacles. She may have developed a constant urge to prove herself as a result of her experiences as a deaf youngster. She frequently cited her small stature as a benefit; she was only 97 pounds and 5 feet 2 inches tall, making her quick and nimble, qualities she said helped her endure blows more efficiently. Alternatively, it’s possible that she was naturally fearless. She revealed to a reporter in 2015 that “Just go for it; I have nothing to fear. When you reach the end and know you’ve succeeded, it feels amazing.”


Kitty O’Neil, the world’s fastest woman, was born in 1946 and was raised by her Cherokee mother. She achieved world records on land, water, and air, and played Lynda Carter’s double in the 1970s television series. O’Neil was the first female member of Stunts Unlimited, a renowned Hollywood stunt performer company. Born in 1946, she was raised by her Cherokee mother and pursued sports, including diving. Despite her deafness, she chose speed over strength and entered motorbike and vehicle races. O’Neil’s accomplishments made the idea that women couldn’t pull off feats inadmissible. She gave up stunt and speed work in 1982, and later moved to Eureka, South Dakota, where a significant portion of the community museum houses relics from her incredible career. O’Neil’s life was marked by her experiences as a deaf youngster, her small stature, and her fearlessness.

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