Over 520,000 people were reported missing in the U.S. in 2021. Luckily, over 485,000 of those cases were resolved within a year. However, around 4,400 unidentified bodies turn up annually – and are likely matches to many of the missing people. About 1% of people who go missing are never found.
While some people intentionally disappear due to family or financial problems, troubles with the law, or other personal reasons, others are abducted against their will or become homicide victims. Still others tragically go missing during outings into nature, flights, or boat rides and are presumed dead despite their bodies never being recovered. (These are the most notorious kidnappings in American history.)
While many people who disappear never make the news, some high-profile cases and celebrity disappearances become national headlines. To compile a list of some of the most famous people who mysteriously disappeared and are still missing, 24/7 Tempo reviewed several historical and government sources, including the websites of the FBI and The History Channel. We used editorial discretion to select cases that have captivated the nation and/or the world and, as a result, have been reported on extensively by the media. People who had been reported missing but were found dead weeks or months later were excluded.
Some famous people who disappeared were aviators who presumably went down with their planes over the ocean. Others were writers, musicians, actors, or sports stars who struggled with depression or substance use and are presumed to have committed suicide. Still others were likely murder victims. Rumors of botched illegal abortions, drug deals gone bad, or mob assassinations surround some of these famous cases. (Here are the most famous assassinations in American history.)
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