Meeya Tjiang, a deaf guest artist based in Washington, DC, created today’s Doodle to commemorate Kitty O’Neil’s 77th birthday. O’Neil was once dubbed “the fastest woman in the world.” Kitty was a famous American daredevil, rocket-powered vehicle driver, stunt performer, and deaf child.
In 1946, O’Neil was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, to an Irish father and Cherokee Native American mother. She contracted multiple diseases when she was just a few months old, resulting in a severe fever that eventually rendered her deaf. Throughout her life, she acquired a variety of communication styles and adapted to suit various audiences, but in the end, she preferred speaking and lip reading the most. O’Neil frequently referred to her deafness as a strength, refusing to see it as a barrier. She later tracked down an adoration for jumping, however a wrist injury and disease finished her possibilities contending. She remained, however, determined to realize her ambition of becoming a professional athlete.
O’Neil started trying out high-speed sports like motorcycle racing and water skiing. She was a true fan of action, and she also did dangerous things like jumping from helicopters and falling from high places while being burned. She made it onto the big screen in the late 1970s as a stunt double for films and TV shows like The Blues Brothers (1980), Wonder Woman (1977-1979), and The Bionic Woman (1976). She was the first woman to join Stunts Unlimited, a group for the best stunt performers in Hollywood.
After crossing the Alvord Desert at 512.76 miles per hour in 1976, O’Neil was named “the fastest woman alive.” She set a new women’s land speed record by almost 200 mph by driving the Motivator, a rocket-powered vehicle. It became clear that she might also be able to beat the men’s record after she blew away the women’s record. Unfortunately, her sponsors wanted to keep the feat for a male driver, so they didn’t let her break the overall record because it would have upset the status quo. O’Neil was never given the opportunity to break the overall record because legal action to combat this failed. However, this did not prevent her from setting new records as a pilot of rocket dragsters and jet-powered boats.
Silent Victory, a film about O’Neil’s life, is a biopic. The Kitty O’Neil Story, which came out in 1979, is a recap of the impressive achievement in the Alvord Desert.
Thank you for inspiring us all to race towards our dreams, Kitty!
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