A diminutive stuntwoman who became a legend in Hollywood, setting a land-speed record and doubling for Lynda Carter on “Wonder Woman,” has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kitty O’Neil died Friday at Eureka Community Hospital in Eureka, S.D.
“Her longtime friend, former stuntman Ky Michaelson, told The Hollywood Reporter that she died of pneumonia and had recently suffered a heart attack,” THR reports. O’Neil was 72.
O’Neil, who was deaf, was a protege of Hal Needham.
“Five-foot-2 and 97 pounds, O’Neil worked on such movies as ‘Airport 1975,’ ‘Two-Minute Warning’ (1976), ‘Airport ’77,’ ‘Damien: Omen II’ (1978), ‘Foul Play’ (1978), ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980) and the Needham-directed ‘Smokey and the Bandit II’ (1980),” THR reports. “She accomplished her most famous Hollywood stunt in 1979 when, dressed as Wonder Woman, she plunged headfirst 127 feet from atop the Valley Hilton in Sherman Oaks onto an inflatable air bag set up on the hotel’s pool deck.”
She set a land-speed record for female drivers in 1976, averaging 512.71 mph in a hydrogen peroxide-fueled, three-wheeled machine in the Alvord Desert in Oregon.
Here’s a featurette about O’Neil from a few years ago, posted by Midco Sports Network …