Google Doodle celebrates life of Kitty O’Neil - US stunt performer once crowned ‘fastest woman’

Mar 24, 2023 06:51 AM IST

American stunt performer Kitty O'Neil, deaf since childhood, faced many hurdles during her lifetime but none of those ever stopped her from pursuing her dreams.

Google Doodle on Friday celebrated the exemplary life of Kitty O’Neil - American stunt performer once crowned the “the fastest woman in the world.” On the occasion of her 77th birth anniversary, Google hailed the rocket-powered vehicle driver who was deaf since childhood.

Google Doodle marks 77th birth anniversary of Kitty O'Neil - American stunt performer.(Google)
Google Doodle marks 77th birth anniversary of Kitty O'Neil - American stunt performer.(Google)

The Doodle, made by Washington DC-based deaf guest artist Meeya Tjiang, illustrated Neil’s life positioning her next to a rocket-powered car as she stood proud and smiling.

Who was Kitty O’Neil?

She was born in 1946, to a Cherokee Native American mother and Irish father in Corpus Christi in US’ Texas. She faced a major setback in life when she contracted multiple diseases, just months into the world, which led to her turning deaf. However, Neil never let it become a roadblock for her.

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She mastered different communication modes to beat the odds and in fact, saw her deafness as an asset, Google said. Her love for driving was met with a hurdle when she got a wrist injury and illness, cutting short her driving career but Neil was committed to achieve the dream of becoming a professional athlete, Google said further.

She tried some of the adventurous high-speed sports including water skiing and motorcycle racing and performed acts like falling from unnerving heights while being set on fire.

She began a career as a stunt double for big screens in the 1970s. Featured in The Bionic Woman (1976), Wonder Woman (1977-1979), she was the first woman to join Stunts Unlimited, an organisation for Hollywood’s top stunt performers, Google shared about her journey. She bid farewell to the world in 2018.

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In 1976, Neil was crowned the ‘fastest woman alive’ for shattering all existing records for driving a rocket-powered car. At 512.76 miles an hour, she surpassed the last record by almost 200 mph. With that performance, nobody had doubts that she couldn’t beat the men’s record but the world wouldn't know that because her sponsors did not allow her to compete, fearing it would threaten the status quo. “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, recaps the impressive Alvord Desert feat.

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    Trainee Content Producer at HT Digital. I read about feminism, late modern history, and globalisation of Korean music.

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