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Top 5 Famous People That Died On The Job

Updated on September 2, 2016
Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart.

5. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Mary Earhart, born on the 24th of July, 1897, was an American pioneer aviator considered the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, for which she received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. Besides this she set many other records and wrote books about her flying experiences which became best-sellers.

She first flew on December 20, 1920, from an airfield in Long Beach, that she and her father visited. It was a 10 minute flight, that cost $10, as a passenger to Frank Hawks, later recalling on the flight "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground,[...] I knew I had to fly.". After this experience she worked several jobs in order to save the $1 000 needed for the flying lessons, which started on the 3rd of January, 1921.

Her records include:

  • Women's world altitude record(1922);
  • First woman to fly over the Atlantic(1928, as a passenger), which opened the door for many sponsorship deals and celebrity that helped her in her future flying career;
  • First woman to fly an autogyro (1931);
  • Altitude record for autogyros (1931);
  • First person to cross the U.S. in an autogyro (1932);
  • First woman to fly the Atlantic solo (1932);
  • First woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (1932);
  • First woman to fly nonstop, coast-to-coast across the U.S. (1933);
  • Woman's speed transcontinental record (1933);
  • First person to fly solo between Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California (1935);
  • First person to fly solo from Los Angeles, California to Mexico City, Mexico (1935);
  • First person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City, Mexico to Newark, New Jersey (1935);
  • Speed record for east-to-west flight from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii (1937);


Her death is surrounded in mystery as nor her body or her aircraft were ever found. During her 1937 second attempt for a worlds flight along the equator as she approached the checkpoint on Howland Island she complained that she could not hear the radio transmissions from the Itasca ship stationed there, after which the transmission was lost. On the other hand the lake-class cutter heard the transmission from the plane loud and clear, responding also with a Morse code signal that was considered not to be heard as well.

After this a large and costly rescue effort was made (the most expensive U.S. rescue mission at that time) but as it was based on coordinates given from the aircraft and speculations of what the actual locations were the whole struggle ended with no results.

Given the controversial events surrounding her disappearance many speculations and conspiracies have been raised, including a crash and sink theory, landing on another island, spying on the Japanese, a caption and execution theory, serving as Tokyo Rose, returning mid-flight New England or assuming another identity.

John F. Kennedy.
John F. Kennedy. | Source

The first 1960 presidential debate of Kennedy vs. Nixon

4. John F. Kennedy

OK, John F. Kennedy might have been one of the most recognizable and charismatic U.S. president, but I gave him only the 4th place because waving to a crowd from a car is not quite what makes most of a presidents job, even though it is up there with making promises and kissing babies.

Born on May 29, 1917, as John Fitzgerald Kennedy, mostly referred to as JFK, he was the 35th of the United States of America, from January 1961 until November 1963, when he was assassinated. He has been, to this day, the only Pulitzer Prize winner and the only Catholic president, the later having raised some issues in his run for the office, for which he famously responded: "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me."

During his period as president the notable events that took place include the Cuban Missile Crisis, the initiation of Project Apollo, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the increasing involvement of the U.S. in the Vietnam War, the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the building of the Berlin Wall.

Footage of the event.


President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, on November 22nd while on a presidential trip, being shot in the throat, upper back and head. Charged for the assassination was Lee Harvey Oswald, but before being tried he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, two days after the events that lead to the president's death.

JFK's death is still controversial, many believing that it was a conspiracy, a cover-up up or that Oswald was not alone. He now rests in Arlington National Cemetery, with the rest of his family near by, being the only president buried in this cemetery.

Brandon Lee.
Brandon Lee. | Source

3. Brandon Lee

Brandon Bruce Lee was an American actor and martial arts artist born on the 1st of February, 1965, being the sun of martial arts expert and movie star Bruce Lee. He started his acting career with the TV movie Kung Fu: The Movie and played in several other action films, his most well known being the comic book adaptation The Crow.

Lee attended high school at Chadwick School, but three months before graduating he was expelled for insubordination, finally receiving his GED in 1983. He then got into Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, majoring in theater but dropped out after a year to move to New York and take acting lessons at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. His martial arts training was mostly given by his father's two best students and friends, Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo.

Even though the movies he played in were not considered cinematographic marvels, some of them being quite the opposite, his last film, The Crow, had huge success, becaming a cult movie that has fans even nowadays.

Brandon Lee's final interview.


Brandon Lee died on the 31st of March, 1993, at the age of 28 as a result of a gunshot on the set of The Crow during the final days of shooting. In the shot where his character walks in his apartment to discover his fiancée beaten and raped by thugs a revolver is fired at him.

Because of a faulty use of equipment and issue with the blanks that was mistakenly overlooked a part of a bullet got stuck in the barrel of the gun from a previous scene, this time the object being evacuated from the guns barrel with the same damage capability as a real bullet. This lead to Lee being fatally shot in the abdomen, all efforts of saving him proving to be of no success.

The rest of the movie was finished with the help of his stunt double and use of special effects. His body now rests at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington, next to his father, on the plot that his mother kept for her.

Steve Irwin.
Steve Irwin. | Source

2. Steve Irwin

Stephen Robert Irwin, born February 22nd, 1962, was an Australian wildlife expert, conservationist and television personality that became world famous for his TV series The Crocodile Hunter, that he hosted together with his wife Terri.

Steve grew up surrounded by animals, his father being a wildlife expert, while his mother a wildlife rehabilitator. He received his first wild animal, a scrub python, for his sixth birthday and under his fathers supervision he wrestled his first crocodile at the age of nine.

Four months after meeting Terri, who was visiting his parents animal zoo, the two got engaged and soon after married, spending their honeymoon trapping crocodiles. The film footage from their honeymoon became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter. The show debuted in 1996 in Australia and soon became a worldwide success, being aired in over 300 countries.

With the very enthusiastic approach on his work Irwin inspired millions but at the same time spur indignation amongst fellow wildlife experts that considered his style too invasive and not well thought through, as nature is meant to be observed, not so brutally interfered with.

The Crocodile Hunter being beaten by...a snake.


Steve Irwin died on the 4th of September, 2006, at the age of 44 while at Batt Reef where he was filming a part of his documentary, Ocean's Deadliest. During a period of bad weather he decided to postpone filming for his documentary and went on shooting some scenes in shallow water for his daughter's show. While approaching a stingray, the animal, in what was considered a defensive response to being boxed in, turned suddenly and hit Steve in the chest with its tail spine. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Irwin was buried at the Australian Zoo, his grave site not being accessible to visitors. His death is considered to be the only fatality caused by a stingray ever caught on camera.

Ayrton Senna.
Ayrton Senna. | Source

Collision between Senna and Proust during the 1990 championship.

1. Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna da Silva, born 21st of March 1960, was a Brazilian racing driver that won three Formula One world championships.

He began his motorsport career in karting, being shown support from his father, going up several classes in Brazil, before moving to the U.K. to to start single-seated racing. Even though winning the RAC and Townsend-Thoreson Formula Ford 1600 Championships in the year he moved he abandoned motorsport under pressure from his parents to take part in the family business. However, a 10 000 pounds contract offer from a Formula Ford 2000 team made him change his mind and return to England.

His Formula One career started at Toleman, for which he raced for one season, before moving to Lotus. After three seasons and one 3rd place Senna moved to McLaren , within his first season winning the championship.

During his stay at McLaren controversy has surrounded him as conflicts with teammate Alain Proust had started to be more and more intense, both on and off the track, one of the major issues being that of him not assuming the position of a second driver for the team.

Considered by many the greatest Formula One driver in history Ayrton was praised for his daredevil approach and control on wet tracks, holding multiple records, but at the same time showed a high interest in increasing the safety of the sport.

Ayrton Senna's crash on the Imola circuit.


Ayrton Senna died in the third race of the 1994 season, at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola. On lap seven, after the Tamburello corner, his mono-post left the track at a speed of 307 km/h and hit a concrete retaining wall at 233 km/h. Before the race Senna complained about the poor handling of the car, saying that it performs worse after the latest adjustements done by the engineers.

In the qualifying round for the race the Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed as a result of a broken wing that caused his car to lose control and hit a concrete wall. The next morning Ayrton and former teammate Alain Proust discussed on increasing the safety of drivers, establishing that he would take the leading role in a reestablishment of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

After his death an Austrian flag was found in his car, being supposed that it was intended as a commemoration of his fellow drivers death that occurred the day before. Ayrton Senna is the last driver to die on the Imola circuit and up to this day the third to last driver to ever die on a Formula One circuit.


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    • CobbWayne profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thank you for the comment, Stacy! It's nice to have some facts and thoughts from such an enthusiastic F1 lover such as yourself.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Jackie Stewart: AS a child He is the voice of formula 1 as well as its csnoinecce. Great Driver and great man.Michael Schumacher: He's 7 time World Champion, duh. Plus he's the same age as me so there's still hope if only i knew how to drive a manual transmission.Ayrton Senna: Probably the mightiest drive I've ever seen. He never stopped looking for grip or pushing to win. He would probably been banned from the sport for some of the moves he pulled but that guy had guts and talent.Gilles Villeneuve: Exciting driver saw him at Long Beach.Emerson Fittipaldi I had dinner with him when I was 9, Where i told him the engineers should use the exhaust gasses to energize the underside of the car to increase down force. But since i was nine I probably used lots of vroom and swooshing noises so maybe I didn't get my point across clearly. and looking back on that i think what the hell happened to me? Prost I know this is the 6th driver but how can i put Senna and not put Prost. +3Was this answer helpful?

    • CobbWayne profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      I'm glad you liked it! While researching I found that she had quite an interesting personality, with a disappearance to match it. :D

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 

      4 years ago from New York

      Very interesting article...especially the Amelia Earhart facts! Thank you for posting!


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