When Concrete and People Collide. Sidewalk slips cause nothing more than embarrassment most of the time. But here are some famous people whose lives were changed (or ended) by a sidewalk.
MARY BAKER EDDY‘s date with a sidewalk changed her life. As described in the church’s timeline, “A turning point occurred in 1866 when a severe fall on an icy sidewalk left her in bed in critical condition. Friends and a homeopathic physician who was called to treat her saw no hope for her recovery… [Eddy] asked for her Bible and, while reading an account of Jesus’ healing, found herself suddenly well.” Eddy began teaching her Biblical system of healing to others, and in 1879 founded the Church of Christ, Scientist — now widely known as Christian Science.
Richard Nixon couldn’t bring her down, but a sidewalk did. KATHARINE GRAHAM was publisher of The Washington Post when the paper tangled with the president during the Watergate scandal that ended with Nixon’s resignation in shame in 1974. Graham died in 2001, after falling at a business conference. Her obituary from the Post’s rival, The New York Times, put it this way: “Mrs. Graham suffered a head injury when she fell on a concrete walkway outside a condominium in Sun Valley, Idaho, and never regained consciousness.”
SHIPWRECK KELLY defied death dozens of times while performing his signature stunt: sitting atop flagpoles. (He set a record by spending seven straight weeks on a flagpole in Atlantic City in 1930.) Ironic, then, that his death was announced with the headline, “Shipwreck Kelly Dies on Sidewalk.” He collapsed and died in 1952 while walking on West 51st Street in Manhattan.
Political firebrand ANDREW BREITBART was only 43 when he died of an apparent heart attack in 2012. Breitbart had just left the Brentwood Restaurant and Lounge and was on his way home when he fell hard to the city sidewalk. One witness said Breitbart “collapsed in front of a Starbucks like a ‘sack of potatoes,'” according to The New York Times. Paramedics were unable to revive Breitbart and he died at the scene.
Some people took a more traditional route out of this world: by automobile. Princess Diana and James Dean star in DEATH BY CAR »