1. Glen Miller
Glenn Miller was the most famous musician of the big band era, but he traded it all in to join the Air Force during World War Two and entertain troops abroad. On December 15, 1944, his plane left England for France and disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. The plane, and its passengers, were never found. Many questions were left behind. Was this simply an accident? Many witnesses say the weather was too bad to fly. Was this a horrible case of friendly fire? Some even believe he may have been a spy working on a secret mission to end the war using his band as a cover.
2. Harold Holt
In 1967, Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, went swimming. He was never seen again. Many presumed he drowned but, without a body, no inquest could be held, leaving many to wonder if there was more to the story. With the assassination of JFK fresh in the public’s mind, and given Holt’s support of the Vietnam War, some thought it was too unlikely that a strong swimmer would simply drown in the presence of a few friends, despite the rough water that day. Others still thought the disappearance was Holt’s own doing, that he either committed suicide or faked his own death to run away with his mistress. Whatever happened, despite the nation’s largest search-and-rescue operation in history, Holt’s body was never recovered.
3. Dorothy Arnold
The socialite (and heiress to a importing fortune) was last seen just two weeks before Christmas of 1910, walking in New York City. She had left that morning to shop for a dress to wear to her sister Marjorie’s debutante party, and ran into a friend while she was out. The friend, Gladys King, said goodbye to Dorothy around 2:00 pm, and that was the last known sighting.
When she hadn’t returned home by dinner time, the Arnolds began calling her friends to see if she was with one of them, but none had seen her. One friend, Elsie Henry, called back just after midnight to ask about Dorothy, and reported that Dorothy’s mother told her that she had returned home but was in bed with a headache and couldn’t come to the phone.
The Arnolds didn’t report Dorothy’s disappearance for weeks, concerned that the media attention would case an embarrassing scandal. A family friend and a Pinkerton detective, however, were called in to investigate. They finally went to the police and, on January 25, 1911, gave a press conference and offered a $1,000 reward for information. A former beau, George Griscom, Jr (of whom her parents disapproved) also spent thousands of dollars advertising in newspapers for her to come home.
Reports of sightings came in, along with two kidnapping hoaxes for ransom money. Her father Francis insisted that he believed Dorothy had been killed in Central Park and thrown into the reservoir. He said he had two pieces of evidence to support this, but these were not disclosed publicly. The police searched, but did not find Dorothy. Theories abounded as to the heiresses whereabouts, including suicide, amnesia, and death following a failed abortion.
The police continued to follow leads which went nowhere, and she was never found.
4. Oscar Zeta Acosta
Acosta was a politician, novelist, and activist in his own right, but he is perhaps best known for his friendship with Hunter S. Thompson, who memorialized him as the character of Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
In May of 1974, just two years after that book was released, Acosta was in Mexico and told his son of the phone that he was “about to board a boat full of white snow.” Acosta’s son, Marco Acosta, is the last person known to have spoken to his father. “The body was never found,” he said, “but we surmise that probably, knowing the people he was involved with, he ended up mouthing off, getting into a fight, and getting killed.”
After his disappearance, Hunter S. Thompson did not forget his friend. He continued to investigate and, in 1977, wrote about the investigation in a piece entitled The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat, a response to rumors that Acosta was alive and well In southern Florida. Thompson wrote that he believed his friend was dead. He was addicted to amphetamines and LSD and was, Hunter surmised, either murdered by drug dealers or the victim of political assassination.
Others believe he either had an overdose or a nervous breakdown during his trip.
More than 40 years later, we will probably never know.
5. Jimmy Hoffa
This is, of course, one of the most famous disappearances in American history. Jimmy Hoffa was famous (or infamous). As head of the Teamsters, America’s largest labor union, he committed crimes included jury-tampering, mail fraud, and bribery which landed him in prison for four years before his sentence was commuted by President Richard Nixon in 2971. Federal Prosecutors also discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars were missing from the Teamsters’ largest pension fund. He was one of the most powerful men in America- with powerful friends and powerful enemies.
On July 30, 1975, Hoffa said he was going to Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township near Detroit- Anthony Giaclone and Anthony Provenzano. Supposed to meet at 2:00, he called his wife at 2:30 to say that he would wait a few more minutes before leaving. That’s the last anyone ever heard from him. His wife reported him missing that evening, and the police found his car at the restart, unlocked. Giaclone and Provenzano said they had no meeting scheduled with him that afternoon and alibis had them away from there that afternoon.
Law enforcement investigated for years with no trace of Hoffa, and he was declared legally dead on July 30, 1982.
His son, James P. Hoffa, now presides over the Teamsters.
6. Richey Edwards
Richey Edwards was the lyricist and rhythm guitarist for the Manic Street Preachers, a British alternative rock band that rose to fame in the late 80s and early 90s. On February 1, 1995, he missed a scheduled flight to the United States for the promotional tour. He was never seen again. Edwards had disappeared. In the two weeks before his disappearance, Edwards withdrew £200 a day from his bank account, which some explained as money he needed from his trip or for new furniture he was buying. According to one account, he gave a friend a book and asked her to read the introduction, which is about the author staying in a mental asylum before disappearing.
Edwards had been staying at a London hotel where, on February 1, he took his wallet, car keys, passport, and some of his Prozac when he checked out, but left behind everything else, including some of his Prozac. He drove to his home in Cardiff, Wales, where fans reported seeing him over the next two weeks in a passport office and bus station. On February 7, a taxi driver said he picked up Edwards from hotel, drive him around Edwards’ childhood neighborhood and, finally, got out at a service station in South Gloucestershire, paying the fare in case. The driver reported him slipping in and out of a Welsh accent.
On February 14, Edwards’ car was ticketed at the service station where the taxi dropped him off and, on the 17th, the car was reported as abandoned. The police determined the car had been lived in, and the steering wheel lock was on, which many took to mean that Edwards planned to return. Due to its proximity to the Severn Bridge, however, many believed that he had committed suicide by jumping as many had done before. However, many close to him said that he would never have committed suite. In 1994, he himself said “In terms of the ‘S’ word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain.”
Many reported seeing Edwards alive around the world as far away as India and the islands of Lanzarote. His family did not have him declared legally dead until November 2008, and his fate is still unknown. The band went on as a trio without him.
7. Amelia Earhart
As the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and the first person ever to fly solo from Hawaii to mainland United States, Amelia Earhart was already a celebrity when her airplane disappeared while attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 1937.
On June 1 of that year, Earhart took off from Oakland, California headed east. Her intention was to keep heading east, flying around the globe until returning home, her second attempt to be the first pilot to circumnavigate the globe. With navigator Fred Noonan, she landed safely in Miami, South America, India, and Southeast Asia.
On July 2, the pair departed Lae to refuel at Howland Island, and were never seen again. The last contact they had was with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Itasca which was off the coast of their destination, at which they never arrived. President Franklin Roosevelt launched a massive search that lasted for two weeks, but no trace of them was to be found. Earhart and Noonan were declared lost at sea on July 19, 1937.
In the nearly 100 years since her disappearance, many have searched for her plane with ever-more sophisticated equipment, but nothing has been found. Some believe that they found signs of her body on a deserted island and others believe theories from espionage and secret identities to Japanese captivity, making this not only one of the most famous disappearances of all time, but one of the great mysteries.