Kitty O’Neil, an American stuntwoman, was celebrated by Google on Friday – her 77th birth anniversary. The Texas native died in 2018 at the age of 72.
O’Neil was deaf since childhood. She was once crowned as the ‘fastest woman in the world’. The 72-year-old also experimented with high-speed sports like water skiing and motorcycle racing.
The Doodle is made by Washington DC-based deaf guest artist Meeya Tjiang. It illustrates Kitty’s life, with her next to a rocket-powered car.
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Kitty O’Neil was born was born in Corpus Christ in 1946. Her mother Patsy Compton O’Neil was a native Cherokee. Her father, John O’Neil, was an officer in the United States Army Air Forces. He died in an airplane crash.
When Kitty was just a few months old, she contracted multiple diseases which led to an intense fever that ultimately left her deaf.
She then learnt different communication modes. Kitty loved driving. However, her wrist injury and illness cut short her driving career. “Neil was committed to achieve the dream of becoming a professional athlete,” Google states.
Kitty then tried sports including water skiing and motorcycle racing. She also performed acts like falling from unnerving heights while being set on fire. She started off as a stunt woman in the 1970s. She worked in The Bionic Woman (1976), Wonder Woman (1977-1979) and became the first woman to join Stunts Unlimited, an organisation for Hollywood’s top stunt performers.
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It was in 1976 that Kitty was crowned the ‘fastest woman alive’ for breaking all records in a rocket-powered car. At 512.76 miles an hour, she surpassed the last record by almost 200 mph.
“Neil even attempted fighting this sexism legally but failed and never secured the opportunity to break the overall record, which was held by a man” Google said.
A 1979 biopic about her life, titled Silent Victory: The Kitty O’Neil Story, shows her feat.
Kitty O’Neil married a stuntman named Duffy Hambleton. Her net worth is $1.5 Million, networthpost.org reports.
She died in 2018 from pneumonia in Eureka, South Dakota, at age 72.