15 Famous People Who Mysteriously Disappeared

One of the most distressing experiences to go through is losing a loved one and not finding any closure for it. Watching someone you love die is painful enough, as is burying him or her, but that at least brings you peace, if not healing—that comes with time. But there have been cases of people losing a loved one without even knowing what became of them.

We constantly see news on missing persons in the media and as casual observers, the facts don’t affect us as much. But if it happens to us or someone we know personally? That’s a whole different level of pain and torment. Famous or not famous, not knowing what became of a person is difficult indeed, not just for their loved ones, but for those who are tasked to search for them. The persons below were quite well-known in certain fields at the time of their disappearance. Almost all of them remain unaccounted for to this day.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

15 Henry Hudson


We’re all familiar with the famous Hudson River in New York and Hudson Bay in northeastern Canada, but do people know the person that these bodies of water were named after? Henry Hudson was a British navigator who ambitiously wanted to explore more territory westwards from the east coast of North America in 1611. But members of his crew, bone-weary and half-frozen, revolted against the idea of traveling any longer. In anger, they cast Hudson, his son, and seven other loyal followers to sea on a tiny boat. The small group was never seen or heard from again.

14 Harold Holt


When one is a strong swimmer, he can sometimes have the overconfidence to plunge into waters even if the tides are dangerous. Such was the case for Harold Holt, Australia’s 17th prime minister back in 1967. Holt and his companions were at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria and while there, the prime minister, who was an excellent swimmer, decided to take a dive into the waters. The strong undercurrents and deadly rip tides didn’t deter him. He vanished into the water and to this day, his body has not been found. His death has been ruled as an accidental drowning with his body either swept out to sea or devoured by sharks.

13 Jimmy Hoffa


Labor unions have always been controversial and the disappearance of American labor union leader James “Jimmy” Hoffa in 1975 is proof of this. He wasn’t on the straight and narrow, though, as he became involved in organized crime. He was last seen in July 1975 outside the Machus Fox Restaurant in suburban Detroit and was declared officially deceased in 1982, after extensive searches. Theories of his death abound, the most popular one being the mobs he previously dealt with were the ones who got rid of him permanently.

12 Dorothy Arnold


It’s hard to believe that anyone can vanish into thin air when walking down busy Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, even if it was the year 1910. Dorothy Arnold was an American socialite, daughter of a wealthy perfume importer. On a December morning in 1910, Arnold stepped out of the family home to go shopping on Fifth Avenue, but failed to return home. Her body was never found and many theories have surfaced on what really happened to the young heiress, but the truth was never discovered.

11 Jean Spangler


She may not have been quite as famous as her contemporaries during her heyday, but there’s no doubt that American dancer and model Jean Spangler was every bit as beautiful. Spangler had a daughter, whose father she divorced and became embroiled in a custody battle with. In October 1949, a year after her career as an entertainer began, Spangler left her home in Los Angeles to meet with her ex-husband on some child support payment issues. She was never seen again. Her friends who were interviewed claimed that Spangler was three months pregnant and wanted to get an abortion, which was illegal at that time, thus the speculation that she fled to avoid prosecution.

10 Sean Flynn


Given the fact that both his parents were actors, it was but natural that Sean Flynn would dabble in acting. However, the son of the late swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn eventually gave up his acting career to pursue his passion for photography. He landed a dream job as a freelance photojournalist for Time magazine and his daring streak drove him to Cambodia in 1970 to capture one-of-a-kind images that he could share with the world. However, he was detained by communist rebels and was never seen or heard from again. He was declared legally dead in 1984.

9 Richey Edwards


Back in the ‘90s when alternative rock bands the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Bush were all the rage, there was a Welsh band called Manic Street Preachers, which had as its guitarist and lyricist one Richey Edwards. But the man who was once dubbed as one of the best songwriters of all time disappeared mysteriously on February 1995. He was last spotted checking out of a London hotel and was supposedly on his way to Cardiff, Wales. Edwards’ car was discovered a few weeks later, but with no sign of him. He was officially declared “presumed dead” 13 years later.

8 Bison Dele


He was a professional basketball player at the NBA, having won a championship for the Chicago Bulls in 1997. Bison Dele was known for his eccentric behavior and he retired when he was still at the prime of his career and athletic prowess, being the Pistons’ highest paid player at that time. He’s believed to have been killed while he was on his sailboat by his brother in self-defense, presumably after an altercation. His body was never found, so it’s speculated that it was dumped into the sea.

7 Andrew Koenig


We all knew him as Boner from the family comedy show Growing Pains. But not many are privy to the fact that he was suffering from depression when he went missing in February 2010, having last been seen in Vancouver. A group of his family and friends went in search of him and he was finally discovered 11 days after he was reported missing. The horrifying image must be ingrained in his loved ones’ minds forever: Koenig was found hanging from a tree in Stanley Park, Vancouver, in an apparent suicide.

6 Philip Taylor Kramer


He first came into public attention as a bass guitar player for the 1970s rock group Iron Butterfly. But Philip Taylor Kramer eventually left his music career behind in favor of a job as an aerospace engineer. His new career was thriving, as Kramer worked for a contractor for the US Department of Defense, then went on to found a multimedia company. His career was seemingly going great, which came as a surprise when he was never seen again after he left to pick up a business associate at LAX. His skeletal remains were found four years later and his death was ruled a suicide due to the call he made to 911 saying that he was going to kill himself.

5 Virginia Dare


She may not be famous by today’s standards, but Virginia Dare holds the distinction of being the first English child born in America. She and her parents were among the first 120 colonizers who settled in Virginia in 1587. Her maternal grandfather John White, who was governor of the colony, set sail for England to seek fresh supplies for his newly discovered land, but was unable to return for three years. Upon his arrival, his granddaughter and the rest of the colonizers had disappeared and today, the group of people are known to belong to the “Lost Colony.”

4 John Cabot


Italian navigator and explorer John Cabot is known in history books as the man whose team discovered parts of North America, having supposedly landed on the continent in Newfoundland, Canada. He’s also known to have mistaken the mass of land he set foot on as Asia. During what was to be his final recorded voyage, he was to sail from Bristol, England to an unknown location, but many believe he was heading back to North America. His ships were alleged to be lost at sea, while others speculate that he indeed reached Canada and established a Christian colony in Newfoundland.

3 Vittorio Missoni


He was born into the illustrious Missoni family that founded the fashion brand bearing his last name. Since childhood, Vittorio Missoni was groomed to one day take part in the family business and he eventually rose to the rank of CEO of the company. In January 2013, Missoni met his tragic fate. The plane carrying him and his wife from Los Roques Archipelago to Venezuela disappeared. The plane was found six months later in the Caribbean Sea.

2 Amelia Earhart


Perhaps the most famous person in history who disappeared without a trace is the pioneering female aviatrix Amelia Earhart. She holds the distinction of being the first female aviator to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean during the male-dominated 1930s. In an attempt to set even bigger records, Earhart was determined to be the first person to fly around the world in 1937. But the plane which carried her and her navigator Fred Noonan was lost over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. To this day, their remains have not been found.

1 Glenn Miller


He was the one responsible for putting the big band musical genre on the map, being the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943. Bandleader Glenn Miller not only dominated the music scene in the swing era, but he was also well-known for boosting the moral of American troops during World War II. On December 1944, Miller boarded a plane from England to Paris to play for the soldiers there. However, the plane disappeared while flying over the English Channel. Neither the plane nor Miller’s body was ever found.


More in Mishaps