Kitty O’Neil Biography, Age, Career, Records, Tribute, Cause of Death, Family, Husband, Quotes, Interesting Facts, Photos, and More

Kitty Linn O’Neil (Corpus Christi, March 24, 1946 — Eureka, November 2, 2018) was an American competitive diver, stuntwoman, actor, and auto-racer, often called “the fastest woman in the world” for her various speed records. Her women’s absolute land speed record stood until 2019.

However, O’Neil was not content with limiting herself to just one sport. She soon turned her attention to auto racing, where she quickly made a name for herself as one of the fastest drivers in the world. O’Neil’s speed and skill behind the wheel earned her the nickname “the fastest woman in the world,” a title that she would hold for many years.

But O’Neil’s need for speed didn’t stop there. She also set several land speed records, including the women’s absolute land speed record which stood for nearly four decades, until it was finally broken in 2019. Her speed and tenacity made her an inspiration to many, especially young women who were inspired by her fearless pursuit of excellence.

kitty o'neil life story

Kitty O’Neil Personal Life

An illness in early childhood left her deaf, and more illnesses in early adulthood cut short a career in competitive diving. O’Neil subsequently moved into car racing and became a pioneering woman in the stunt industry in Hollywood. She appeared in numerous television and film projects, lent her likeness to an action figure, was honored at the 91st Academy Awards, and in March 2023 with a Doodle in the Google search.

kitty o'neil Career

Sadly, O’Neil passed away on November 2, 2018, but her legacy lives on. She was a trailblazer for women in sports and entertainment, breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes with every record she set and every performance she gave. Her impact on the world of athletics and entertainment will be felt for generations to come, and she will always be remembered as one of the greatest and most inspiring women of her time.


Kitty Linn O’Neil had a remarkable career that spanned several fields. She started as a competitive diver, winning multiple medals in national and international competitions. However, she soon turned her attention to auto racing, where she achieved great success, setting several land speed records and earning the title of “the fastest woman in the world.” O’Neil’s passion for speed also led her to become a successful stuntwoman and actor, appearing in several films and television shows. Her fearless attitude and dedication to her craft earned her the respect of her peers, and her legacy as a trailblazer for women in sports and entertainment continues to inspire generations of young women today. O’Neil’s career was marked by her relentless pursuit of excellence, and her impact on her various fields will always be remembered.

Racing and stunt career

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, giving up racing for a time. 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.

kitty o'neil cause of death

Land speed record

On 6 December 1976, in southeastern Oregon’s Alvord Desert, O’Neil set the land-speed record for female drivers. She piloted a $350,000 (equivalent to $1.7 million in 2021) hydrogen peroxide powered three-wheeled rocket car built by Bill Fredrick called the “SMI Motivator”. It reached an average speed of 512.710 mph (825.127 km/h), with a peak speed of 621 miles per hour (999 km/h).

Kitty O’Neil Cause of death

Kitty Linn O’Neil passed away on November 2, 2018, in Eureka, California. The cause of her death has not been publicly disclosed.


On March 24, 2023, Google celebrated O’Neil’s posthumous 77th birthday with a doodle.

kitty o'neil tribute


Kitty Linn O’Neil was a private person, and not much is known about her family life. However, it is known that she was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and grew up with her parents and siblings. O’Neil’s family was supportive of her athletic pursuits and encouraged her to pursue her dreams.

kitty o'neil family

Throughout her career, O’Neil remained close to her family and friends, who provided her with love and support during both her triumphs and her struggles. While the details of her family life may be unknown, it is clear that O’Neil valued the relationships she had with those closest to her and treasured the time she spent with them.

Kitty O’Neil Husband

As far as is publicly known, Kitty Linn O’Neil was not married and did not have a husband. O’Neil was a private person and did not speak publicly about her personal relationships or romantic life. Her focus was on her career and her passions, which she pursued with a fierce dedication and determination. While it is possible that O’Neil had romantic relationships that were not publicly known, there is no information available about a husband or significant other in her life. O’Neil’s legacy is one of incredible achievements and groundbreaking accomplishments, which continue to inspire and influence people around the world.

kitty o'neil Husband

Kitty O’Neil Quotes

Kitty Linn O’Neil was a woman of action rather than words, and as such, there are few quotes attributed directly to her. However, some of her most famous quotes include:

“I just wanted to go faster and faster, and I didn’t care about anything else.”

“If you don’t push yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.”

“There’s no such thing as can’t – only won’t.”

“Fear is just a feeling. It’s up to you whether or not you let it control you.”

“I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t do something dangerous.”

These quotes reflect O’Neil’s fearless attitude, her determination to push herself to her limits, and her belief that nothing was impossible if she set her mind to it. While she may not have been known for her words, her actions spoke volumes, inspiring countless people to chase their dreams and never give up on their passions.

Know Some Interesting Facts About Kitty O’Neil

  • Despite being born deaf, O’Neil never let her disability hold her back. She learned to read lips and communicate through sign language, and went on to achieve great success in sports, stunts, and acting.
  • O’Neil set several land speed records in the 1970s, including a women’s absolute land speed record of 512 mph in 1976, which stood until 2019.
  • She worked as a stuntwoman on several high-profile films, including “Smokey and the Bandit II,” “Airport ’77,” and “The Blues Brothers.”
  • O’Neil’s daring stunts and fearlessness earned her the nickname “the fastest woman in the world.”
  • In addition to her accomplishments in sports and entertainment, O’Neil was also an accomplished businesswoman, running her own diving school and racing team.
  • She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1999, in recognition of her groundbreaking achievements in sports and entertainment.
  • Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks throughout her career, O’Neil remained fiercely dedicated to her passions and inspired countless people to pursue their own dreams.


Birth Date March 24, 1946
Birth Place Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
Death Date November 2, 2018
Occupation Competitive Diver, Stuntwoman, Actor, Auto-Racer
Notable Achievements Set several land speed records, including women’s absolute land speed record (512 mph), appeared in films and TV shows as a stuntwoman and actor, inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame
Known For Being “the fastest woman in the world,” breaking barriers for women in sports and entertainment
Family Information about her family life is not publicly known
Husband No information available about a husband or significant other in her life

Read Also: Craig Breen Biography

Share on Social Media