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Tribute to American stunt woman, Kitty O’Neil- @Lighthousejour2

On what would have been her 77th birthday, today’s Google Doodle honors the remarkable American stuntwoman, Kitty O’Neil. Created by Meeya Tijang, a talented deaf artist, the doodle depicts O’Neil holding a blue helmet and dressed in her iconic yellow racing attire.

Unfortunately, O’Neil’s promising career as a racing driver was prematurely halted due to health complications that caused her to lose her hearing during childhood. Despite this setback, she earned the title of “the quickest lady in the world.” Tragically, Kitty passed away on November 2, 2018, at the age of 72.

Kitty O’ Neil’s cause of death

The cause of Kitty O’Neil’s death was pneumonia, a condition characterized by the inflammation of lung tissue. At the time of her passing, she had no close relatives and was in a hospital situated in Eureka, South Dakota.

After an illustrious career in stunts, O’Neil sought a quieter life and relocated to Raymond Wald in 1993 with her partner, Raymond Wald. It is worth noting that Kitty did not have children from previous relationships, and the couple remained childless.

kitty o'neil

Kitty O Neil

Kitty O’Neil was born deaf after contracting measles, mumps, and smallpox simultaneously when she was only five months old. The resulting high fever led to her hearing loss and life-threatening situations.

In her 20s, while battling cancer, O’Neil pursued training as a prospective Olympic platform diver. However, her indomitable spirit led her to engage in motorcycle and car racing, as she was constantly drawn to thrill-seeking adventures.

Tragically, a motorcycle accident in 1972 resulted in the loss of two fingers. Fellow stuntman and racer Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton came to her aid at the hospital, successfully assisting in the reattachment of her fingers.

Kitty O’ Neil’s bio

Kitty Linn O’Neil, born on March 24, 1946, and passing away on November 2, 2018, was a renowned American stuntwoman and auto-racer. She earned the moniker “the fastest woman in the world” due to her numerous speed records, holding the women’s absolute land speed record until 2019.

Despite being deaf from an illness during her early childhood, O’Neil initially pursued a career in competitive diving. However, her aspirations in the diving world were curtailed by further illnesses during her early adulthood. Undeterred, she transitioned into car racing and emerged as a trailblazing woman in the Hollywood stunt industry.

Throughout her career, Kitty O’Neil appeared in numerous television and film projects, making a significant impact. Her likeness even inspired an action figure. In recognition of her achievements, she was honored at the 91st Academy Awards. Additionally, in March 2023, Google paid tribute to her with a Doodle in their search engine.

Kitty Linn O’Neil was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 24, 1946. Her father, John O’Neil, served as an officer in the United States Army Air Forces and worked as an oil wildcatter. Tragically, he died in an airplane crash during Kitty’s childhood. Her mother, Patsy Compton O’Neil, was of Cherokee heritage.

At the age of five months, O’Neil contracted multiple childhood diseases simultaneously, which resulted in the loss of her hearing. By the time she was two years old, her deafness became apparent, and her mother took on the role of teaching her lip-reading and speech. Patsy O’Neil eventually became a speech therapist and co-founded a school for students with hearing impairment in Wichita Falls, Texas.

During her teenage years, Kitty excelled as a competitive diver, specializing in the 10-meter platform and 3-meter springboard events. She even won championships in diving organized by the Amateur Athletic Union. Starting in 1964, she trained under renowned diving coach Sammy Lee. However, her aspirations for the 1964 Olympics were thwarted when she broke her wrist and contracted spinal meningitis, jeopardizing her ability to walk and ending her chances of making it onto the Olympic diving team. Undeterred by this setback, Kitty also competed in swimming events, participating in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle at the 1965 Summer Deaflympics.

Following her recovery from meningitis, Kitty O’Neil’s interest in diving waned, and she sought out more thrilling pursuits. She engaged in water skiing, scuba diving, skydiving, and hang gliding, finding these activities more exhilarating than diving. She remarked that diving “wasn’t scary enough for me.”

Later in life, in her late 30s, Kitty O’Neil faced the challenge of battling cancer. She underwent two treatments for the disease, displaying her resilience and determination in overcoming yet another obstacle.


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