Google Doodle: Commemorating American stuntwoman Kitty O'Neil's 77th birthday
Google has beautiful ways of remembering people and celebrating occasions with artistic Doodles illustrated by artists from around the world. And today's edition is dedicated to the late Kitty O'Neil, an American stuntwoman who was once crowned as the "fastest woman in the world," as we commemorate her 77th birthday. Here's everything you should know about this daredevil who 'rocket-propelled' through all odds.
Born in Texas, O'Neil became deaf as an infant
O'Neil was born today back in 1946 in Texas and when she was only a few months old, she suffered from multiple diseases that left her deaf. Post that, she grew up learning various communication modes, indulging in interactions through lip reading and speaking. Despite all that, she never considered her illness as something that could stymie her way to fulfilling her dreams!
From diving to driving, the woman overcame all her challenges
O'Neil once found love for diving, however, her wrist injury didn't let her pursue it for long. She then experimented with high-speed adventure activities like motorcycle racing and water skiing, leading her way to perform shiver-inducing stunts like jumping from helicopters! As she progressed, there was no looking back for her as she made her way to Hollywood!
She performed in many excellent Hollywood films
O'Neil became the first woman to be a part of Stunts Unlimited, a reputed agency of Hollywood's top stunt performers! As a stuntwoman, she appeared in films including The Bionic Woman, Airport '77, The Blues Brothers, Smokey, and Bandit II. She also featured in an episode of Wonder Woman, where she set a women's high-fall record of 127 ft from a 12-story building.
She drove at 512.76 mph across the Alvord Desert
After driving around the Alvord Desert at a whopping speed of 512.76 miles per hour (mph) and breaking records set by other women in the past, O'Neil was declared "the fastest woman alive." One of her most celebrated achievements was when she drove a rocket-powered car called the Motivator and smashed the previous driver's record by nearly 200 mph!
Despite achievements, she was not allowed to compete with men
After breaking records over and over again, O'Neil was thought of as someone who can easily give the men in her league a run for their money. However, call it a stereotype or a threat to status-quo, her sponsors didn't allow her to break records set by male drivers as they wanted to reserve the feat for them! Even legal action against it failed.
Years later, a film on her life was made
Back in 1979, a biopic titled Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story was made in Hollywood, depicting the challenges and achievements of the stuntwoman's life. The film featured Stockard Channing as O'Neil, Colleen Dewhurst as O'Neil's mother, James Farentino as Duffy Hambleton, Tim Antonio as Charlie, and Brian Dennehy as O'Neil's father. It received a phenomenal response from the audience.