Kitty O'Neill was a deaf stuntwoman who broke the female land speed record twice and jumped without a parachute from a helicopter at 180ft.
A stunt woman who featured in "Wonder Woman," "The Blues Brothers," "Smokey and the Bandit II," the "Omen II," and "Airport '77" has died of pneumonia, aged 72.
The remarkable 5ft 2in Texan, Kitty O'Neil, was the first woman to join the Hollywood stunt agency Stunts Unlimited and in total, set 22 records. Her success as a stunt woman also led her into the world of speed racing and she set a land-speed record for women in 1977, which still stands today.
In 1976, she broke the high-fall record again in 1976 when she plunged out of a helicopter at 180ft without a parachute. At that height, she said that the airbag looked like a "postage stamp."
"I'm not afraid of anything, just do it. It feels good when you finish, you made it," she told a reporter in 2015.
O'Neil lost her hearing at the age of four months after contracting measles. Later in life, she also contracted spinal meningitis, which threatened to paralyze her, and dashed her hopes of competing in the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo for the diving team.
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So sad hearing about the passing of Kitty O'Neil, a legacy to the Wonder Woman family.. At 5 months of age, she lost her hearing due to contracting multiple childhood illnesses. This made her want to achieve more as she went on to pursue sports as well as she learned the piano and cello. Not only was she a brave stunt woman on the original WW series, she broke records on and off set as well. On set she set a high fall record of 127ft by jumping off a hotel Terrace onto an airbag. She’s named the “fastest woman in the world” for driving a three wheeled rocket car going 512 mph on land which still stands today. She also set records on boats and jet skis. You were remarkable, strong, brave, and resilient. Rest In Peace Kitty! 🙅🏻♀ #WomenOfWonder
O'Neill died in South Dakota, where she settled when she retired. It is thought that she suffered from pneumonia and a heart attack before her death.
Tributes were paid to O'Neil by the likes of Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot who described the stunt woman as "remarkable, strong, brave, and resilient."