Nobody likes a missing person, but you have to admit that this vanishing act becomes a tad more peculiar when it happens to a well known public figure. This is not because we put more value into famous people (although, we do), but rather because these are the faces which are recognizable all around the world. And yet no one can see them? Where did they go?
Thankfully, more often than not, these matters get solved fairly quickly because of Government spy cameras or maybe the celebrity just went to the shop, I don’t know. But there are those spooky cases when, no matter how many search parties or sniffer dogs or trained FBI agents they throw at the problem, the body just never seems to turn up, dead or alive. In distressing cases like these, we tend to presume dead, because we’ve become desensitized by crime dramas and are living in a time where we need our news in 30 seconds or we lose interest and click on something else, costing the website valuable revenue.
Of course, there are those more persistent examples of celebrity evaporation that have proved timelessly captivating, owed in part to mass sensationalized newspaper theories, best-selling book deals, and sometimes even feature length films. All the while, the audiences are so entertained that they forget that we should actually keep looking for these people. Perhaps capitalizing on their absence is a bit sick, did you ever think of that? Anyway, here is an article all about 15 celebrities who mysteriously disappeared, I hope you enjoy it!
15. Amelia Earhart
Starting with the most obvious: In the male-dominated profession of 1930’s aviation, Amelia Earhart made it her mission to conquer the stereotypes of her gender, and did so by casually flying solo over the Atlantic Ocean (the first female to do so) whilst setting all sorts of other records and writing best-selling books along the way.
Her achievements were already well recognized by 1937, but Amelia was hungry for more, and embarked on a round the world flight in order to be the first person ever to accomplish such a feat. Things were going so well too, until around the Howland Island area, where her plane simply… vanished, gone without a trace. And despite the most expensive American search effort in history up to that point, no wreckage has ever been uncovered.
What exactly happened back there is anyone’s guess, but naturally, people guessed anyway. Some investigators logically suggested that the plane ran out of fuel, crashed into the water, and sunk into the depths of nothingness. Other more conspiracy inclined folk believe that she landed on some nearby island, and was captured by the Japanese. But the best theory yet comes from author Joe Klaas’ 1970 book called Amelia Earhart Lives, which stated that Earhart was tired of the fame, moved to New Jersey, and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam. The real Irene Craigmile Bolam didn’t like that, and sued Klaas for $1.5 million. The book was withdrawn from publication shortly afterwards.
14. Oscar Zeta Acosta
Who is Oscar Zeta Acosta, you ask? Ok, remember the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? You recall the actor? No, not Johnny Depp, but the other guy. Benicio Del Toro was his name. He played the character Dr. Gonzo, the attorney. That was Oscar Zeta Acosta! The name was just changed at Oscar’s request. You see? You did know who he is!
Thompson and Acosta had been friends for a long time, and together they wrote the article which Thompson eventually developed into the Fear and Loathing book, which by all accounts, is a completely true story. With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand why a dude like Oscar may have just accidentally fallen off the planet.
According to Acosta’s son, the man disappeared on his way to Mexico to board “a boat full of white snow”. His son then went on record stating that his father had been murdered, with “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.” Either way, his mysterious disappearance was a fitting end for for a character Thompson once described as “too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
13. Bambi Woods
Back in the Golden Age of Porn during the late 70s, there was no sexually explicit film as popular as Debbie Does Dallas. It sold 50,000 copies of VHS, making it the most successful porn video of all time back then, spawning endless sequels, parodies, and even an Off Broadway musical which I would like to see. And Bambi Woods? She was the star.
As the legality of the porn industry was a bit hazy during those years, there were no laws in place enforcing films to keep records of the actors, and so Bambi’s real name is still not public knowledge. What we do know, however, is that Bambi did not expect this giant spotlight to be focused on her private parts, and was mortified when the news reached her parents. So she did what any embarrassed person with a fake name would do, and disappeared completely after three years in the industry. And still to this day, the global community of devoted fans wonder what ever happened to that actress they had spent so much alone time with.
The two theories prevailing is that she either died of a drug overdose in 1986, or that she is still alive in Des Moines with no interest in her former life. Which leaves such a massive gray area in the middle, that I’ll just hope for the best and remember the good times.
12. Richey Edwards
The most surprising fact about the “legally presumed dead” Manic Street Preachers guitarist/lyricist Richey Edwards, is that his disappearance hadn’t happened sooner. Edwards was what some may call “a tortured artist”. He was known to regularly cut himself with razor blades and burn himself with cigarettes, often ending up in hospital because of these hobbies. He was also severely depressed and famously glamorized his lifestyle of an anorexic diet which mainly consisted of illegal drugs for every meal.
In 1994, The Manics released their most critically acclaimed album The Holy Bible, and then five months later, Richey was gone forever. His car was found near the Severn Bridge, north of Bristol, which was already known as a popular jumping spot. This, coupled with his troubled poetry, made for a very likely suicidal scene, but his body was never found to confirm. Which, in some morbid way, is such a shame, as Richey was 27 at the time, and could have ended up as a revered member of The 27 Club, which includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. Pity.
Despite the Manic Street Preachers losing this disturbing lyrical resource, the band continued to have a fruitful career without him, probably owed to the fact that Richey had no musical talent whatsoever, generally miming his guitar playing on stage anyway. But with all the ghost sightings that prevail to this day, his former band members are reportedly still putting aside Edwards’ part of their earnings, just in case.
11. Patrick McDermott
When you were in a nine-year relationship with the four-time Grammy Award Winner and female lead in Grease, Olivia Newton-John, a bit of fame is certain to leak upon you. This is what happened to cameraman Patrick McDermott, whose disappearance has been one of the hottest journalistic topics of missing celebrities ever reported.
It all went down in 2005, when McDermott attended an overnight fishing trip off the shore of Los Angeles, and never returned. After investigations revealed only empty hands, many simply assumed he had drowned, and went on with their day. However, the more skeptical followers of the story speculated that the man had faked his own death in an attempt to avoid child support debts and cash in on his life insurance. Olivia Newton-John herself went on record, stating that anyone who claims McDermott is alive is trying to profit from the story, but that hasn’t stopped people from doing so, even to this day.
In 2010, a Dateline NBC private investigation reported Patrick was alive and well in Mexico. In 2016, Women’s Day magazine echoed that McDermott was “healthy and alive,” living in Mexico with his girlfriend. And even as recent as November the 7th, 2017, The Independent claimed that they had seen photos proving that the man was still happily running around Mexico. None of these publications have any proof, but can someone just go to Mexico already and tell McDermott that we are looking for him?
10. Michael Rockefeller
Often considered the most powerful family of all time, the Rockefellers have plenty of strange tales following them around, only one of which is that of Michael Rockefeller. As the fifth-child of the 41st Vice President of the United States, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, and a fourth-generation member of the Rockefeller family, Michael had the world open wide to him and could do just about whatever he wanted to do. And what he wanted to do, was photograph the Asmat tribe of Netherlands New Guinea.
So off he set with Dutch anthropologist René Wassing in 1961, and everything going just peachy until their boat overturned. After growing impatient whilst waiting for a rescue, Rockefeller decided to try and swim the 12 miles to shore. What happened next is anyone’s guess, but there are plenty of possibilities. Perhaps a crocodile or a shark got him? Perhaps he made it to the shore, and was eaten alive by the Asmat tribe (because they were known to do that)? Perhaps he was welcomed into their native ways and felt so at home that he became an Asmat man himself? Or perhaps he just drowned. That’s the sick advantage of never finding a body. You can pretty much make up what you want.
9. Bison Dele
There was a period when Bison Dele was on top of the world. He was an exceptionally talented NBA basketball player who had sold his services to the likes of both the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons. In fact, at the time, Bison was the Pistons’ highest paid player, with a $36.45 million contract signed in his back pocket. And then, in 1999, at the peak of his financial career and physical performance… he simply walked away from it all. And nobody knows why.
If you think that’s weird, baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Three years later, Bison, his girlfriend, his brother (Miles Dabord), and a skipper took Dele’s boat, Hukuna Matata, out on a South Pacific voyage. As you may already know, Hukuna Matata means “no worries”, which unfortunately did not prove to be the case, as when the ship washed up on Tahiti shores, only Dele’s brother Miles remained on board.
It was obvious for authorities to assume that Dabord had murdered the other three passengers, dumped them into a water, and then sailed away into the sunset. However, before they could obtain any confession, Dabord had already overdosed on insulin, escaping into a coma and then dying shortly afterwards. We will never know what definitely happened that day, but in Dabord’s defense, he did call his mother just before he died to let her know that he “would never hurt his brother”. It’s almost a sweet story.
8. Glenn Miller
Probably a little before your time, but back in 1930s-1940s, there was no one cooler than Glenn Miller. He lead the hottest big-band of the swing era, and was the best-selling recording artist in America, scoring 23 number-one hits in only four years! Granted, there were probably only like seven recording artists in the whole world back then, but still, that’s more than what Elvis and The Beatles achieved in their careers. It remains impressive.
As if we don’t already love this guy enough, in 1942 at the height of his success, he admirably offered his services to World War II. With his heart still fixated on music adoration, he formed a marching band to entertain the troops and keep moral high. And it worked, as he played over 800 performances to gleeful soldiers in the English summer of 1944 alone. These concerts proved so popular that the military sent Miller on a flight from the UK to France to continue the tour, but Miller’s plane simply never arrived.
During wartime, a missing plane wasn’t the most shocking of occurrences, but people were still curious as to what happened to Glenn. Did the cold weather cause the plane to stall and crash? Or was it more dramatically bombed into burning scraps of metal by opposing forces? Either way, The Glenn Miller Orchestra didn’t seem to care too much, and continue to perform to this day, over 70 years since Miller’s disappearance, keeping his ghosty jazz-hands waving enthusiastically in the afterlife.
7. Solomon Northup
The gut-wrenching film 12 Years a Slave was a huge critical and financial success, winning the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture and collecting a casual $187.7 million from box office sales. If you’ve seen this heartbreaking tale of struggle, it should come as very little surprise that it’s a true story, based on a book of the same name, by a man called Solomon Northup.
Spoiler alert: Solomon (a free man) went missing in 1841, conned into believing that he was hired for a fiddler job, and then sold into slavery, where he spent (you guessed it) the next 12 years desperately trying to prove his free status. Thankfully, his passionate resilience to reunite with his family eventually paid off, and in 1952, he managed to verify his identity, traveling safely back home, writing this memoir to illustrate the criminal hardships he’d endured, and selling 30,000 copies shortly after. Life was looking up for Northup, as if he was finally getting some of that redemption he was owed.
Not so fast, Solomon. On a lecturing tour in 1857, the author arrived in Canada and, once again, disappeared, this time for good. Some say he was resold into slavery, but due to his age at the time, this seemed unlikely. Others claim he probably went into hiding. But whatever the case, his four years a free man hardly seemed like a fair compensation, and once again proves that if there is a God, he works in mysteriously unreasonable ways.
6. Jimmy Hoffa
Mr. Hoffa didn’t exactly have the reputation of being the most upstanding citizen. As the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters labor union for over a decade, he couldn’t seem to keep his eager fingers away from organized crime, for which he was eventually caught, and got sent directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Surprisingly, he remained the union leader even whilst incarcerated for four years until, in 1971, he resigned and was then pardoned by the equally trustworthy US President Richard Nixon.
Fast forward to 1975, and Jimmy Hoffa was in a Detroit parking lot. And then, suddenly, he wasn’t. Officials found his car, it was unlocked, but it seemed like Hoffa himself had turned into a poof of smoke and drifted away. Or, more than likely, his old mob ties had come back to haunt him and dealt with him once and for all, which is the generally accepted suspicion. But then where did his body go?
The termination of Jimmy’s physical existence has become almost like a macabre guessing game for weirdo theorists, as they have already suggested all the mobster clichés to the likes of: he was hidden in concrete beneath a suburban home driveway, or mashed through a meat grinder, or flattened in a car compactor, or (the absolute classic) shoved into a toxic waste oil drum. But nobody truly knows, least of all Jimmy Hoffa, because he’s dead.
5. Louis Le Prince
If Thomas Edison is the father of the motion picture, then Louis Le Prince is the frisky milkman who is actually the real father of the motion picture. You see, Louis shot the first moving images onto film in history, long before it was even thought possible, and if fate had been kinder to the man, his name would be mentioned a lot more prominently in our textbooks. But fate is never kind on a list like this.
In 1980, Le Prince was preparing to patent his fancy new invention, and he happily boarded a train from Dijon to Paris. But when the train arrived at its destination, the man and his luggage had seemingly evaporated within his airtight cabin. There were no stops between the stations and the windows were closed tight, locked from the inside, so…?
The opinion of what happened depends on who you speak to. Some argue that he surely never boarded the train, and his brother (the last man to see him alive) murdered Louis for inheritance money. His brother hurriedly professed his innocence by stating Louis was bankrupt and depressed, leaving suicide as the only logical conclusion. And finally, others pointed out that Le Prince often spoke about outside parties who were trying to steal his film invention, and maybe he was murdered for competitive reasons. When asked for a comment, Thomas Edison denied any involvement and then quickly snapped up the patent not long afterwards. Suspicious behavior there, Mr Edison!
4. Ylenia Maria Sole Carrisi
Once upon a time, famed Italian musical power couple, Albano Carrisi and Romina Power, had a baby girl, and they called her Ylenia Maria Sole Carrisi. Already born with a head start, Carrisi made good use of her footing and starred in some films with her parents before being hired full-time as the cherished letter turner on Italy’s version of Wheel of Fortune. I have no references for this following statement, but I’m pretty sure her parents were very proud.
Sadly, this promising success was cut short on a New Orleans vacation in 1994. The last potential sighting of Ylenia was that of a security guard, who testified that a woman vaguely matching the girl’s description dived into the Mississippi River, whilst screaming “I belong in the water!”. But no matter who that was, Ylenia was missing, and a body was never found.
Her father has since openly accepted the security guard’s version of events, and presumes his daughter to be dead. Her mother, on the other hand, refuses to believe it, having employed a private investigator for over 20 years and counting to get to the bottom of her disappearance, stating “If she’s dead, well then show me her body and a DNA report.” That only seems fair to me.
3. Joe Pichler
Former child actor Joe Pichler’s career is a bit of a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it type of deal, but don’t blink and I’ll throw some names out there, and you tell me if anything sticks. Remember those Beethoven movies about that loveable St. Bernard? Well, he was in the third and fourth sequel, both of which were direct-to-video cash-ins on the original’s success. He was also the lead in the Halloween television film When Good Ghouls Go Bad, and had a minor role in Varsity Blues, so he does have a celebrity resume, albeit paper thin.
Regardless, you don’t care, you want to know about his disappearance, right? I’ll tell you. There he was, in 2006, playing cards with his mates, potentially drunk but by all accounts, in good spirits. When the party was over, he drove his car to a busy intersection at 4am, abandoned it with all his belongings inside, and then called one of his friends on the phone, crying incoherently about something or other. And that was the last known time his voice was heard.
After police found multiple suicidal poems and notes in his car (including one which requested that all his possessions go to his younger brother), it was only natural to assume that Pichler had jumped off a nearby bridge. But despite lengthy searches and police dog involvement, his body was never found, which is why his family still actively search for him today. I hope they find him, you know!
2. Jean Spangler
It’s almost unfair to include Jean Spangler on this list, because it was her disappearance itself that truly propelled her fame into a global consciousness. No press is bad press, I suppose. That said, she did have some references to her name, with a few bit-part acting gigs around late 1940s Hollywood, including an uncredited role in the film Young Man with a Horn, starring Kirk Douglas and Doris Day. Remember that for later.
In 1949, she told her sister that she was off to argue with her ex-husband, and that was it. Authorities never found her, but they did find her purse, which contained an unfinished note in her handwriting which read:
“Kirk. Can’t wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away…”
Despite no one making the connection, her former costar Kirk Douglas was quick to call the police and assure them that he was not the Kirk they were looking for, which automatically made him a prime suspect. However, no connection could be made, and so they began to look elsewhere with a different set of questions. Who was Dr. Scott? Are the rumors true that Jean was on her way to get an illegal abortion? Wait, what about those two known mobster acquaintances of Spangler who also disappeared around the same time? Unfortunately, we will never know, because police eventually gave up on the case, probably because this was Hollywood and Jean Spangler simply wasn’t famous enough.
1. Edward L. Montoro
If there ever was a list of film producers notorious for shoddy B-movies which shamelessly tried to capitalize on the success of current blockbusters…Edward L. Montoro would probably not even be on that list. That’s how bad he was!
Best known for his Jaws rip-off film Grizzly, Montoro earned more than $39 million for that sham, which encouraged him to keep going on with his copycat mission, his plagiaristic reputation somehow giving his name enough wings to work with acclaimed actors such as Bill Paxton and Leslie Nielsen. Unfortunately, Edward ultimately flew too close to the Sun. The Universal Pictures Sun, that is. After producing the film Great White, Montoro was successfully sued for thieving their Jaws product this time, and suddenly, his once promising stolen empire was threatening to financially topple over.
Edward decided the best way to make his problems go away was to embezzle one million dollars from his own company, and then promptly vanish. The business naturally collapsed, his pending divorce settlement was never settled, and the man was never found, although he is assumed to have run away to Mexico, probably chilling with Patrick McDermott as we speak.
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