In this era, we know where and when celebrities are getting their personals waxed. No one could ever go missing, could they? It would seem that the age of Instagramming every meal and Facebooking shower thoughts for likes has made any chance of disappearing a distant memory for most stars. In the past, whenever a celebrity went missing, it was a huge event. Margot Kidder, Nick Stahl, Casey Kasem, and Agatha Christie are some of the celebrities who have gone missing over the years. Each of these people, however, showed back up a few days later. Sadly, we’ve also seen stars go missing and turn up dead. As tragic as this is, there is, at least, some closure for their families. But then there are the missing and the undiscovered. For the families of the missing celebrities on this list, there has never been true closure. In some cases, we have a pretty good idea what happened. Others are much more mysterious.
Unsolved mysteries like those on this list are fascinating. Obviously, there’s a life involved, so we don’t want to trivialize the event too much. But there has always been a public interest in cases like this. We will deal with some of the better-known events up front and move down to the more obscure but still meaningful ones. It seems that at this point, no new information will ever come to light regarding these cases. Having said that, every year, there seems to be some new theory or claim made about famous missing persons cases, so you never really know. Here are 15 Celebrities Who Disappeared Without a Trace and Have Never Been Found.
15. Amelia Earhart
It would be silly to make a list of vanishing celebrities and not include the most famous case in history. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set records, wrote books, and was a massive celebrity for it. Then, in 1937, during an attempt at a circumnavigational flight of the globe, Earhart’s plane went missing somewhere over the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Prior to the disappearance, Earhart’s plane was in radio contact. The aircraft was having trouble locating its landing path on the island and was running short on fuel. The most popular theory suggests that Earhart’s aircraft went into the water and sunk, although no wreckage has ever been found. Other theories suggest that they may have landed on another nearby island or was captured by the Japanese. It is still a mystery today.
14. D.B. Cooper
D.B. Cooper was not famous before his disappearance. Hell, D.B. Cooper isn’t even his real name. It’s simply a botching of the fake name, Dan Cooper, he used when he bought a plane ticket. The media reported the name as D.B. Cooper and it stuck. On November 24, 1971, on a flight traveling from Portland to Seattle, Cooper showed a flight attendant a note and a bomb. He demanded that the plane land and be met with $200,000 and some parachutes. Once the plane landed, the ransom money was collected along with the parachutes, and the passengers were let off. After the plane refueled, it took off again as it was instructed, heading towards Mexico. While the plane was in the air, Cooper strapped on a parachute, grabbed the money, and jumped. Investigators determined that Cooper was unlikely to have survived the jump. He was inexperienced, and the conditions for jumping were very poor. Still, neither his body or the money has ever been found. There were some disintegrated ransom money discovered on the banks of the Columbia River in February of 1980, but that was it until just the other day when a decade’s old parachute strap was found. We’ll have to wait and see if anything else turns up.
13. Roald Amundsen
Roald Amundsen is one of the most famous explorers in history. He was the first recorded man to reach the South Pole and the leader of the first expedition to the North Pole. He was also the first to record a successful journey through the Northwest Passage. After all these missions, Amundsen and his crew went missing while on a rescue mission for another aircraft that crashed in the Arctic. Some wreckage, including a gasoline tank from Amundsen’s plane, was found but no bodies and no major plane wreckage were ever located. Numerous searches have been made in the area where the plane was believed to have gone down, but the whereabouts of the team and the plane are still unknown to this day.
12. Glenn Miller
Between the years of 1938 and 1942, there was no one bigger in music than Glenn Miller and really, it wasn’t even close. In those four years, Glenn Miller and his orchestra put together an incredible 70 top-ten singles and 22 number-one records. That’s more than both Elvis and the Beatles. Miller was playing everywhere and anywhere there was music. Then, in 1944, while flying from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, Miller’s plane disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. There have been plenty of theories about what happened over the years–including a popular one that suggests the plane was bombed by Allied planes returning from Germany–but it’s more plausible that the plane had suffered from a faulty carburetor that malfunctioned in colder weather.
11. Jimmy Hoffa
Between the years of 1958 and 1971, Jimmy Hoffa was the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union. While the union grew immensely during that time, Hoffa was engaged in some unsavory stuff, being involved with the mafia and convicted of several crimes. In late July of 1975, Hoffa told his family and some friends that he was meeting known mobsters, Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano. Later that night, Hoffa called his wife and said the men were late but that he would continue waiting for them. He never returned home. Over the years, many people have been accused of the murder and some have even admitted to it, but there has been no proof or substantiated evidence backing up the claims.
10. Sean Flynn
Sean Flynn was the only child of film legend Errol Flynn. He dabbled with some acting of his own, starting with his father at a young age. But when he got older, he grew tired of acting and moved onto other careers. He eventually landed on photojournalism and became quite good, landing a major contract with Time magazine. Flynn was best known for his coverage of the Vietnam War. In 1970, while in Cambodia seeking coverage of the Viet Cong, Flynn and another journalist, Dana Stone, chose not to take the limousines that the journalists were using. Instead, they took motorcycles out to a highway checkpoint. That was the last they were ever seen. It is known that the two were taken by Viet Cong guerrillas at the checkpoint. They both have been declared dead in absentia, although there has never been any evidence found to confirm that. The common belief is that they were held for upwards of one year before being killed.
9. Richey Edwards
Richey Edwards was the celebrated Welsh musician who was the lyricist and guitarist for the band The Manic Street Preachers. In 1991, Edwards made a bit of a name for himself when he was questioned about his commitment to Punk music, to which Edwards, in front of the interviewer, grabbed a razor blade and carved the words “4 Real” into his arm. The resulting injury took eighteen stitches to patch up. Although Edwards often spoke about depression and self-harm, he also said that suicide was never an option for him. His friends and family have corroborated that. Still, on February 1st, 1995, when Edwards went missing, people thought suicide right away. His car was found lived in near the Severn Bridge, north of Bristol, which is a known suicide location. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, there were reported sightings of him in various places, but he was never found. His “missing persons” case was left open by his family for 13 years until November of 2008 when he was declared “presumed dead.”
8. Dorothy Arnold
Dorothy Arnold was a socialite from a wealthy and well-known family. She was an aspiring writer, but most of her fame came because of her family and her disappearance. In December of 1910, Arnold left her home to go shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Along the way, she met and spoke to a friend. Arnold told this friend that she was going to walk through Central Park. This was last time she was seen. To hide from any social embarrassment, the family used private investigators to locate Arnold. After a couple of weeks, they finally contacted police. Over the years, numerous theories have popped up to explain the disappearance. But perhaps the most plausible was from an account from a convicted felon five years after the disappearance. This man told police that he was instructed to bury the body of a young woman in December of 1910. He said the young woman died from a botched operation, and he described the job provider as a wealthy man who matched the description of a former lover of Arnold’s. The felon also described a ring that Arnold had worn, which made his story even more believable.
7. Patrick McDermott
Patrick McDermott might be more famous for his alleged death and his relationship to Olivia Newton-John than anything he did himself. McDermott and Newton-John had an on-and-off relationship for some years, but McDermott made news in 2005 when he disappeared from a fishing boat off the coast of Los Angeles. He wasn’t reported missing until about a week after he disappeared from the boat and the 20-plus other passengers all gave conflicting reports. In 2008, McDermott was declared “most likely drowned,” but a suggestion then came out that he probably faked his own death to cash in on a life insurance claim and was living in Mexico. He even showed up on America’s Most Wanted. Dateline NBC ran an undercover special trying to track him down and even claimed they found him. They just never showed any proof of any sort. His ex-wife says that anyone who claims he is alive and well is trying to profit from the story.
6. Oscar Zeta Acosta
Oscar Zeta Acosta is most famous for being the other half of the mad party in Hunter S. Thompson’s book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Acosta was portrayed by Benicio Del Toro in the film of the same name. Thompson and Acosta had become friends in the late ’60s and worked on the article that inspired the book in the early ’70s. Not long after the book was published, Acosta disappeared while traveling in Mazatlán, Mexico. Acosta’s son spoke to him shortly before his disappearance, and he was told that Acosta was boarding a boat “full of white snow.” After the disappearance, Acosta’s son felt certain that he was killed, saying, “The body was never found, but we surmise that probably, knowing the people he was involved with, he ended up mouthing off, getting into a fight, and getting killed.”
5. Slim Wintermute
Slim Wintermute was a basketball player famous for being part of the first ever NCAA Tournament championship teams in basketball. Playing for the Oregon Ducks, Wintermute would go on to have his number retired by the University. He would play professional basketball for some time as well in the National Basketball League prior to the formation of the NBA. In 1977, while boating with a friend, Wintermute went missing. Although no foul play was ever suspected, the scenario is strange. The boat set out at 7am in Lake Union. At 2pm, the boat was found in neutral, the other passenger asleep on board. He claims that Wintermute was on board when he fell asleep. Many believe that Wintermute’s known heart condition led him to have a heart attack and fall overboard. No body was ever found.
4. Bison Dele
Bison Dele, the man formerly known as Brian Williams, was an NBA basketball player who played with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, among other teams, in the ’90s. In 1999, at the start of the season, Dele surprised everyone and walked away from the sport and his $36 million contract. On July 6, 2002, Dele, his girlfriend, and a skipper took Dele’s boat out on a voyage in the South Pacific. Two weeks later, the boat came ashore in Tahiti, but it only had one passenger, Dele’s brother, Miles Dabord. Local authorities and the FBI worked to track down Dabord to find out what happened to the other passengers, but the brother overdosed on insulin and fell into a coma, dying soon after. Dabord did call their mother to say that he never hurt his brother. It’s assumed that Dabord killed all three passengers and dumped their bodies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but it will never likely be confirmed.
3. Ylenia Maria Sole Carrisi
Ylenia Maria Sole Carrisi is one of the daughters of the famed actors and Italian musical duo of Albano Carrisi and Romina Power. Carrisi had done some acting with her parents, but she became known as the Italian Vanna White (the letter turner) on La Ruota Della Fortuna, Italy’s version of Wheel of Fortune. While on vacation in New Orleans, Louisiana in late 1993/early 1994, Carrisi went missing. A security guard testified that a woman matching Carrisi’s description jumped into the Mississippi River yelling, “I belong in the water,” but no body was ever found. Her mother still believes she is alive, and a private investigator has been working the case for more than 20 years trying to prove it.
2. Joe Pichler
Joe Pichler was a child actor who was best known for his roles in the Beethoven films, the Halloween favorite When Good Ghouls Go Bad, and Varsity Blues. Pichler took a break from acting to finish school and was planning on returning to Los Angeles to pick up his career after his braces came off. In early 2006, Pichler was out late one night with some friends playing cards. He left in his car to drive home and was never seen from again. His car was found abandoned with all Pichler’s belongings left inside, and it was determined that he made a call to one of his friends after 4am that morning. On the call, Pichler was reportedly drinking and crying. A note was also found that could be interpreted as a suicide note, stating he wished he could be a “stronger brother.” Police thought Pichler may have jumped off a nearby bridge, but police dogs and extensive searches found no trace of the young man.
1. Jean Spangler
Like some of the others on this list, Jean Spangler’s fame grew immensely following her disappearance. Prior to that, she had been in some films, but she hadn’t yet become a star. Spangler disappeared in October of 1949. One night, she told her sister-in-law that she was going to meet her ex-husband and then go to a late-night film shoot. She never returned home. Two days later, Spangler’s purse was found in a park with the straps ripped. Inside the purse was an unfinished note addressed to “Kirk.”
“Can’t wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away.”
A friend would later say that Spangler was trying to have an illegal abortion. The mysterious Kirk was never identified, although film star Kirk Douglas did call police to let them know that it wasn’t him. It was strange, however, that the last film Spangler completed was Young Man with a Horn, starring none other than Kirk Douglas.
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