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Talk about big news. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten famous people who disappeared.
For this list, we’ll be looking at public figures, relatively well-known in their time, who went missing and never returned.
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#10: Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson was a 17th century explorer who devoted his life to finding the Northwest Passage to Asia, a pursuit that led him and his crew to discover Hudson Bay in 1610. This expedition turned out to be his last however, as Hudson’s crew mutinied when he tried to push on after many failed attempts to find the passage. His crew, wanting to give up and return home, eventually kicked the explorer off the ship and left him and 8 others in a small boat in the middle of Hudson Bay. Hudson was never seen again, and the fate of that vessel remains unknown to this day.
#9: Sean Flynn
The son of Golden Age actors Errol Flynn and Lili Damita, Sean Flynn tried the silver screen, but found success in photojournalism, becoming known for his coverage of the Vietnam War. During his short career, he survived parachuting into war zones and injuries from exploding grenades... but on April 6, 1970, his luck ran out. After a press conference, he and fellow journalist Dana Stone set out on motorcycles to photograph Viet Cong at a highway checkpoint, and were never seen again. The most popular theory is that he was handed over to the Khmer Rouge and executed, but to date his remains have never been found.
#8: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Best known for his children’s novella The Little Prince, French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry disappeared on more than one occasion. In 1935, he crashed into the Libyan desert, inspiring the events of his cherished novella. Although he lived to fly another day, he went missing again while on a reconnaissance mission during World War II. He was last seen taking off from Corsica on July 31, 1944, in an unarmed Lockheed P-38, which he would often pilot reading and writing at the same time. Over fifty years later, his bracelet was found by a fishermen, and remnants of his aircraft were discovered on the seabed, confirming that he’d crashed into the Mediterranean.
#7: Bison Dele
Basketball player Bison Dele was known as an eccentric, who retired from the NBA at the peak of his career to travel the world. In 2002 he embarked on a sailing trip with his girlfriend, brother, and a skipper aboard his boat the Hakuna Matata. His brother, Miles Dabord, returned to Tahiti alone, and later forged Dele’s signature to purchase $152,000 worth of gold. Dabord told police that Dele’s girlfriend was accidentally killed during a scuffle between the brothers, so Dele killed the skipper, and Dabord shot Dele. The FBI concluded that Dele was likely murdered, but Dabord overdosed on insulin before further questioning.
#6: Richey Edwards
Richey Edwards was one odd dude, known for being the enigmatic but massively respected lyricist and rhythm guitarist of the punkish alt rock band Manic Street Preachers. Edwards disappeared on February 1, 1995 but was reportedly spotted around Newport by fans and a taxi driver who weren’t aware that he was considered missing. His lived-in Vauxhall Cavalier was later found abandoned by the Severn Bridge, a well-known suicide spot, leading many to believe that he’d killed himself. However, people close to Edwards disputed the idea, saying he wasn’t the type, and there's been numerous supposed sightings of the musician since. Despite the optimism, he was officially presumed dead in 2008.
#5: Lord Lucan
British noble Richard Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, was almost James Bond—both on the silver screen and in living an expensive, reckless lifestyle. He drove an Aston Martin, raced power boats, and was a skilled gambler. Despite this, he actually turned down the role of 007 in the 1960s. When his marriage deteriorated in 1972, he became obsessed with regaining custody over his three children. Their nanny was later found bludgeoned to death; his wife named Lucan the assailant. He was last seen on November 8, 1974 driving away from his friend’s house in a borrowed car. Some believe he fled the country; others that he committed suicide; but we’ll probably never know.
#4: Harold Holt
They say political waters are treacherous. But for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, the literal waters of Victoria’s Cheviot Beach in Portsea were the real worry. On December 17, 1967, Holt and a friend jumped in for a dip. The sea was rough that day however and Holt was soon pulled out to sea by an undertow. In a bizarre coincidence, Holt had once asked his press secretary: “what are the odds of a prime minister being drowned or taken by a shark?” Apparently, they’re the same as for everyone else; although British journalist Anthony Grey theorized Holt had defected to China and been whisked away in a submarine, he was never seen again.
#3: Glenn Miller
A musical prodigy of the swing era, big band trombonist and bandleader Glenn Miller had a whopping 59 top ten hits. For perspective, that’s almost double the career total of the Beatles. On December 15, 1944, Miller was set to fly from the UK to Paris to entertain the troops, but his UC-64 Norseman disappeared without a trace over the English Channel. Experts later hypothesized that the plane’s carburetor froze in the nasty weather, which prevented fuel from reaching the engine which, when coupled with the bad weather, resulted in the plane’s presumed crash.
#2: Jimmy Hoffa
When it comes to unsolved disappearances, Jimmy Hoffa is easily one of the most infamous. A popular union leader who served as President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1957 to 1971, Hoffa was critical in bringing the idea of unions to the mainstream. He was also linked to organized crime however, and spent several years behind bars. When tensions arose between Hoffa and two Mafia leaders after his release, Hoffa agreed to a meeting at a restaurant—but never returned. His unlocked car was found in the parking lot the next morning. While the case remains open, many suspect that Hoffa was assassinated by the mob.
#1: Amelia Earhart
Did she crash? Get captured by the Japanese? Or just change her name and move to New Jersey? All these years later, and the fate of the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic is still debated. On her second attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan vanished over the Pacific, somewhere in the vicinity of Howland Island. Some think she crashed and sank; others that she survived, only to be marooned on a deserted island, imprisoned by hostile forces, or to spend the rest of her life incognito. The mystery endures, and probably will forever.