From a daredevil with an international following to a man that liked jumping from heights into water, the thrill and excitement of seeing a daredevil or stuntman had a reputation for gathering thousands of people who’d pay to see the performer risk their life. In this article, you will learn of the unfortunate deaths of performers who lost their lives while participating in their craft.
Sam Patch , 1829
In 1829, daredevil Sam Patch attempted to jump into the High Falls of the Genesee River in Rochester, New York, but died in the process. The Falls measured 99 feet. Patch had successfully leapt into High Falls one week prior to his death. In front of an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 onlookers, Patch went out onto a rocky ledge in the middle of the falls with a pet bear cub. First, he tossed the bear over the falls and the cub successfully swam safely to shore. Patch then followed and successfully jumped after the bear.
The amount of money that he raised for this feat was disappointing, so he decided to repeat the show in another week on what was actually Friday the 13th. To entice spectators, he increased the height of the jump to 125 feet by building a stand that measured 25 feet. When he jumped this time, the crowd heard the loudness that his body made when he made impact with the water. He never resurfaced again. Some say that he lived to tempt fate again, but his body was found frozen encased in ice the next spring.
Paul Mantz , 1965
Mantz was a stunt pilot that enjoyed a rather long career flying and racing planes. However, he met his end in 1965 while filming a movie called ‘The Flight of the Phoenix.” While attempting a very low flight over a stretch of desert in Arizona, the plane struck a small hillock and he lost control of the aircraft. Mantz tried to save the plane, but it split into two pieces and nosedived into the ground. He was killed instantly at the age of 62.
Karl Wallender , 1978
Karl Wallender was the founder of the Flying Wallendas , a daredevil circus act that performed internationally. Born in 1905, the German daredevil gained quite a bit of fame for his wire walks. He’d perform between two very high structures without using a safety net. What set him apart from others was that he still performed the stunt even when he was much older. At the age of 73, he attempted to cross between two towers of a 10-story hotel in Puerto Rico. Winds of around 30 miles per hour started to whiz past Wallender as he walked the wire. He lost his balance and fell 121 feet to his death.
The Deaths of the Movie ‘Noah’s Ark’ , 1928
While filming the 1928 flick ‘Noah’s Ark,’ three people died and one man lost his leg. While filming the ‘Great Flood’ scene, a lot of extras were hurt. The deaths that took place played an important role in establishing film safety regulations in the following year.