Flying tailor

Franz Reichelt wearing his parachute suit
Franz Reichelt wearing his parachute suit

Franz Reichelt, a 33-year-old Austrian tailor and inventor living in Paris, died jumping from the first platform of the Eiffel Tower in a test of his experimental parachute-suit. Reichelt had designed the flight-suit that extended into a parachute as a way to save pilots that were forced to eject from their aircraft mid-flight when they couldn’t carry a traditional backpack-parachute with them. He had received permission from the Paris Police to conduct a trial-run of his suit on the Eiffel Tower using a dummy. Just before the test was to take place, Reichelt revealed that he would be making the jump instead, despite attempts by friends and spectators to dissuade him. When he made the jump his parachute failed to deploy and he fell 190 ft. to his death. The entire event, including Reichelt’s death, was captured by a cinematographer. This footage can now be found on the Internet, and is one of the earliest examples of an accidental death being caught on film.

Submission by Logan Agle. Thank you.

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan, dancer and wife of the Russian poet Sergei Yesenin, died of a broken neck when her long scarf caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger.

Father of the Blood Bank

Charles Drew, the inventor of the “blood bank” and pioneer of successful blood transfusions, died during a failed blood transfusion after a car accident in North Carolina.

Tennessee Williams’ death

American author Tennessee Williams died when he choked on an eyedrop bottle-cap in his room at the Hotel Elysee in New York. He would routinely place the cap in his mouth, lean back, and place his eyedrops in each eye.

Rod Hull’s death


Children’s entertainer Rod Hull died while adjusting the television aerial on the roof of his house. He had been watching a Manchester United European Cup match with his 19-year-old son Oliver. In his attempt to improve reception, he slipped from the roof and fell through an adjoining greenhouse. The 63-year-old entertainer suffered a severe skull fracture and chest injuries. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

Poison Umbrella Murder Case

Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was assassinated in London with a specially modified umbrella that fired a metal pellet with a small cavity full of ricin into his calf.

Eric Clapton’s son

Connor Clapton, the 4 year old son of musician Eric Clapton, fell out of an open picture window on the 53rd floor of a New York high-rise apartment. He landed on the roof of an adjacent 4-story building. The large window had been left open by a janitor while cleaning.

Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”.