Kitty O’Neil was an American stuntwoman and auto-racer. Due to the various speed records she has set, she is often called “the fastest woman in the world” and her women’s absolute land speed record stood until 2019.
Kitty O’Neil was born on March 24, 1946, in Corpus Christi. Her parents are John O’Neil and Patsy Compton O’Neil. John O’Neil was an officer in the United States Army Air Forces. He however died in an airplane when Kitty O’Neil was still a kid.
Kitty O’Neil ’s mother, Patsy Compton O’Neil, was a native Cherokee. It must be noted that Kitty O’Neil became deaf at the age of 2 due to simultaneous childhood diseases she had when she was five months of age.
Patsy Compton O’Neil taught her her lip-reading and speech and through she became a speech therapist.
She founded a school for deaf children in Wichita Falls, Texas.
When Kitty O’Neil became a teenager, she took to 10-meter platform diving and 3-meter springboard diving competitive basis. She won Amateur Athletic Union diving championships.
Kitty O’Neil started working with diving coach, Sammy Lee in 1964 but she broke her wrist and contracted spinal meningitis just before the trials for the 1964 Olympics.
She could not walk properly and as such she could not make her way into the Olympic diving team.
During the 1965 Summer Deaflympics, Kitty O’Neil competed in 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle swimming.
However, she lost interest in diving even after she had recovered from meningitis. She rather took to water skiing, scuba diving, skydiving and hang gliding.
Kitty O’Neil Husband
Kitty O’Neil was married to Duff Hambleton. Duff Hambleton was a stuntman. Kitty O’Neil became a stunt performer under the tutelage of her husband Duffy Hambleton.
She is believed to be worth about $1.5 million. When Kitty O’Neil was in her late 30s, she underwent two treatments for cancer. Kitty O’Neil piloted a hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket dragster built by Ky Michaelson with an average speed of 279.5 mph (449.8 km/h) in 1977.
She died on November 2, 2018, after suffering from pneumonia in Eureka, South Dakota. She was 72 years when she died.