Kitty O’Neil was an American stuntwoman and auto-racer, who was often called “the fastest woman in the world” for her various speed records. She had a net worth of around $1.2 million at the time of her death, which was caused by pneumonia in 2018.
Kitty O’Neil’s Career and Achievements
Racing and stunt profession
Kitty O’Neil was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 24, 1946. She lost her hearing as a baby after contracting simultaneous childhood diseases, but her mother taught her lip-reading and speech. She became a competitive diver and swimmer, but turned to racing and stunts after recovering from spinal meningitis and a broken wrist.
By 1970, O’Neil had taken up racing on water and land, participating in the Baja 500 and Mint 400. She met stuntmen Hal Needham and Ron Hambleton while racing motorcycles, and lived with Hambleton. In the mid-1970s, she entered stunt work, training with Needham, Hambleton and Dar Robinson. In 1976, she became the first woman to perform with Stunts Unlimited, the leading stunt agency.
As a stuntwoman, she appeared in The Bionic Woman, Airport ’77, The Blues Brothers, Smokey and the Bandit II and other television and film productions. In 1978, her stunt career inspired a Kitty O’Neil action figure, made by Mattel.
Land speed record
On December 6, 1976, O’Neil became the fastest woman in the world. She set a land-speed record in a 48,000-horsepower hydrogen peroxide-powered three-wheeled rocket car called the Motivator. She burned through the Alvord Desert in Oregon at an average of 512.710mph – and that record still stands. She also set world records for speed in a jet-powered boat called Captain Crazy at 275mph and on water-skis at 105mph.
Kitty O’Neil’s Net Worth
Kitty O’Neil had a highly successful career as a stunt performer, race car driver, and actress, which allowed her to amass a considerable amount of wealth. Her net worth was estimated to be around $1.2 million at the time of her death. She made such an amount from her profession as well as from endorsements and sponsorships.
The Cause of Kitty O’Neil’s Death
Kitty O’Neil passed away on November 2, 2018, at the age of 72 in Eureka, South Dakota, due to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs in one or both lungs to become inflamed. The air sacs may swell with fluid or pus, which can lead to a cough that produces pus or phlegm, a fever, chills, and breathing difficulties. She had no surviving immediate family members.
Kitty O’Neil was a remarkable woman who overcame many challenges and achieved many feats in her life. She was deaf, but she did not let that stop her from pursuing her passions and breaking records. She was fearless, adventurous, and inspiring. She left behind a legacy of courage and speed that will be remembered for generations to come.