Kitty O’Neil: Real life ‘Wonder Woman’ passes away at 72

Wonder Woman stunt-double Kitty O'Neil dies at 72

Lynda Carter’s stunt double in the 1970s TV series Wonder Woman, dies of pneumonia.

Kitty O’Neil, known as “the fastest woman in the world”, died at Eureka Community Hospital, South Dakota, after suffering from pneumonia due to a recent heart attack. Her career as a stuntwoman and a racer led her to massive popularity in movies like Two-Minute Warning (1976), Damien: Omen II (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980).

O’Neil’s success also led her to set a land-speed record for women drivers in 1976, still undefeated, spawning her own Barbie doll and a feature named Silent Victory: The Kitty O’Neil Story.

Additionally, it is said that while shooting for Wonder Woman, O’Neil plunged headfirst 127 feet off the roof of the Valley Hilton in Sherman Oaks, California onto an airbag set up near the hotel pool. The stunt was a near-death experience but she was unafraid as ever. She told The Washington Post that of she hadn’t have hit the center of the airbag, she could have died.

In a Midco Sports Magazine in 2015, she mentioned, “I’m not afraid of anything,” she reflected. “Just do it. It’s good when you finish, [you know] you made it.” O’Neil was a daredevil and an inspiration for many stuntwomen who came after her.

By Sharmita Kar