Famous Risk Takers

Going out on a limb, jumping into the deep end, putting yourself out there; these things can feel very lonely. But if you are choosing to take your own risky journey and need some inspiration, you should check out these famous risk takers. I’ll continue to update this throughout my journey so check in occasionally to see new additions:

Vivian Malone Jones

Vivian Jones, along with James Hood, were the two students escorted through the doors of The University of Alabama by the National Guard after being barred from enrolling in June of 1963. The following day civil rights activist Medgar Evers was shot to death in Jackson, Miss. Instead of hiding in her dorm room or giving up and leaving the university, Vivian went to class that day, and eventually went on to become the first black woman to graduate from The University of Alabama in 1965.  During a time when the south was in a fierce civil rights debate, taking this step was not only risky, it was revolutionary.

Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard

These two men hold the record for deepest ocean dive, manning the Bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960. The submarine went down to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, a depth of 35, 800 feet underwater, roughly 7 miles. Since that epic day, no human has come close to reaching the depths that they traveled. It takes some real guts and strong belief in machinery to take on that risk.


Okay, maybe this one is pretty obvious. But a list of famous risk takers would not be complete without Madonna. And when you step outside of the overexposed world that we live in, you can see just how risky she was. Promoting sexuality, girliness, rock star, and never, ever allowing ones self to be boxed in, she is truly and completely a risk taker.

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri was the first man to go into orbit. I mean, come on! I can just imagine how that conversation went:

“Hey Yuri. So we’re thinking of strapping you to this rocket and then lighting the fuse and blasting you into the air. Whadda ya think?”

“Sounds like a good time. Let’s do it.”

If that’s not a risk, I don’t know what is.

Simone de Beauvoir

In 1949, Simone’s book The Second Sex came out and furthered the revolution for equality for women. With it she explored the way Western society classifies women and explores inequality and “otherness” among the sexes. Check out this review of the book in the New York Times.

While the book was originally released in France and comments mostly on Frenchmen, the book resonates to this day with women around the world. To write and release this book when she did takes guts and nerve.

Philippe Petit

Philippe was a tight rope walker and decided to break into the World Trade Center, extend a rope from one building to the other and then walk across. While I don’t advocate breaking the law to take a risk, you’ve got to admire his cahonas. Here’s a clip from a documentary about the event, called Man on Wire:


One thought on “Famous Risk Takers

  1. Pingback: Dear lovely reader… « Little D, Big Year

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