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10 Famous People Who Mysteriously Disappeared

6. Michael Rockefeller, son of US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared in 1961 while he was on a journey to Papua, New Guinea to photograph the Asmat people.

Michael Rockefeller
Michael Rockefeller. Image credits: Peabody.harvard.edu

Michael Clark Rockefeller was the third son and fifth child of the US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. He was also the great-grandson of John Davison Rockefeller Sr. who was one of the co-founders of Standard Oil. Michael, a graduate of Harvard, was on a trip to Papua, New Guinea in Indonesia. He went there to collect some paintings and take photographs of the people of the Asmat Tribe.

On November 17, 1961, Rockefeller and René Wassing (a Dutch anthropologist) were about three miles from the shore when their boat capsized. According to reports, Rockefeller managed to swim to shore, but that was his last sighting. Even after a two-week-long search that included helicopters, ships, airplanes, and thousands of people, Rockefeller could not be found.

His disappearance gave rise to conspiracy theories including the one where he was supposedly killed and eaten by cannibals. Michael Rockefeller was declared legally dead three years after his disappearance, in 1964. (source)

7. Daniel Lind Lagerlof, a well known Swedish director, screenwriter, and producer, disappeared during filming in October 2011 and was never found again. 

Daniel Lind-Lagerlöf
Daniel Lind-Lagerlof. Image credits: Critic.de

Daniel Lind Lagerlof considered one of the most versatile directors in the Swedish cinema and TV landscape disappeared on 6 October 2011. Lagerlof, at the time, was in the process of finalizing a shoot location for his upcoming movie, based on Swedish writer Camilla Lackberg’s books the Tjurpannan Nature Reserve.

According to a theory, Lagerlof slipped on some rocks and was pulled into the sea by the large waves in the area. However, there were no witnesses around that time. No trace was found, so in 2016, Lagerlof was officially presumed dead. Lagerlof is credited with directing several blockbusters like Beck and Johan Falk, Breaking Out, Making Babies, and Miffo among others. (1, 2)

8. One of the most renowned and influential poets of the twentieth century, Weldon Kees, disappeared in July 1955 leaving no trace behind. 

Weldon Kees
Weldon Kees. Image credits: Google Books

Born in Beatrice, Nebraska on 24 February 1914, Harry Weldon Kees was a multi-talented person. Kees was a poet, painternovelistliterary critic, jazz pianist, playwright, short storywriter, and filmmaker. Though his career was short-lived, Kees is considered by many to be in the same league as John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Lowell.

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He is one of those influential poets of the twentieth century whose work became a source of inspiration for poets of the following generations. After visiting his parents in the early part of July 1955, Kees came back to his home on the evening of July 17. His whereabouts the next day is still shrouded in mystery. Then, on the 19th of July, 1955 Kees’ car was discovered abandoned in a parking lot on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The car’s key was still in the ignition. According to his friends and acquaintances, in the days leading up to his disappearance, Kees was acting weird and was noticeably disturbed. He once tried committing suicide as well but couldn’t bring himself to do it. Though it was widely speculated that Kees finally took his own life, his body was never found. (1, 2)

9. Harold Holt, Australia’s progressive and ground-breaking Prime Minister, went swimming on a beach in Victoria in 1967. He never returned to shore. 

Harold Holt
Harold Holt (right) Image credits: Yoichi Okamoto/Wikimedia

Harold Edward Holt was the quintessential Australian Prime Minister. He was sociable, sporty, had a penchant for life, and loved diving and spearfishing. Holt is considered by many as one of the most progressive and ground-breaking politicians of all time in the history of Australia. In his tenure as the Prime Minister, which lasted for only two years, Holt is attributed to achieving significant milestones.

He successfully moved Australia from the pound and pencesystem to dollars and centsHolt also brought a national referendum in 1967 that included indigenous Australians in the census and worked towards ending the White Australia Policy. In December of 1967, Holt was staying at his holiday house in Portsea, Victoria.

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On 17 December, after lunch, he decided to go to a nearby beach for swimming. Hold went into the water and was never seen or heard from again. A massive search was launched to find the Prime Minister to no avail. Five days later, leaders from around the world attended his memorial service. Still today, more than 50 years later, conspiracy theories abound including his capture by a Chinese submarine, suicide, and more. They have overshadowed Holt’s term as the Prime Minister. (source)

10. Glenn Miller, one of the most successful big-band leaders, disappeared over the English Channel in 1944 adding one more mystery to the several mysteries of World War II. 

Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller. Image credits: University of Colorado Boulder

Glenn Miller had made his mark on the world with his best-selling recordings like “Moonlight Serenade,” “In the Mood.” “A String of Pearls,” and many more. Between 1939 and 1942, Miller was the best-selling recording artist with 16 number-one records and 69 top-ten hits. In 1942, Miller broke from his band to start the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.

In December of 1944, Miller was due to visit Paris to play for the newly liberated troops at a Christmas concert. The aircraft, a UC-64 Norseman carrying Miller, disappeared over the English Channel. He was never seen again. Miller’s disappearance raked up a lot of conspiracy theories including his assassination by the Nazi troops, a heart attack, his plane getting caught in friendly fire, etc. None of these theories have been substantiated so far. (1, 2)

Also see: 10 Intriguing Disappearance Cases that Remained Unsolved

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