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Video: Fearless high-wire walker eyes Niagara Falls

Photos: Death defiers

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  1. Nik Wallenda

    Nik Wallenda, star of "Life on a Wire," has cheated death several times with his wild high-wire acts. Wallenda, a seventh-generation acrobat, succeeded in becoming the first person to walk across the Grand Canyon on a wire in 2013 when he inched his way 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River. (Tiffany Brown/ Ap Images For Dis / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Felix Baumgartner

    Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria exits his capsule as he begins his record-setting skydive over Roswell, New Mexico, on Oct. 14, 2012. Baumgartner jumped from the stratosphere, an estimated 128,100 feet, reaching a preliminary speed of 833 mph. He is the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall. (Red Bull via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. David “The Bullet” Smith

    The son of circus performer David “Cannonball” Smith, David Smith Jr. was headed for law school until his father was injured and asked him to perform the act in his stead. Today David Jr. has been fired from a cannon more than 5,000 times and holds the Guinness record for longest flight by a human projectile: 181 feet. (Janet Jensen / The News Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. David Blaine

    Originally a street performer of “close-up” magic, Brooklyn-born Blaine has garnered both attention and controversy for a series of highly public endurance stunts, including spending 44 days in a transparent box near the Thames in London, and submerging himself in an 8 feet diameter, water-filled sphere in front of the Lincoln Center in New York City for seven days and seven nights. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Steve Truglia

    A stunt performer whose film credits include “Saving Private Ryan” and several James Bond films, Truglia has been set on fire for more than 2 minutes and holds a record for diving with his breath held. (spacejump.co.uk) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Jeb Corliss

    A BASE jumper (BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span, Earth, the places the jumpers leap from), Corliss is sometimes called the Human Flying Squirrel because of his distinctive wingsuit. He has jumped from the Eiffel Tower and Seattle’s Space Needle, but in 2006 was seized by security guards before he could make an unauthorized jump from New York’s Empire State Building. (Axel Koester / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Alain Robert

    French climber Robert is nicknamed “Spider-Man” because of his penchant for scaling skyscrapers using only his bare hands and climbing shoes. He has climbed the Eiffel Tower, the Willis Tower in Chicago (despite a dense fog that made it dangerously slippery), and one of the world’s tallest buildings, Taipei 101 in Taiwan. (Emmanuel Aguirre / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Jackie Chan

    Martial-arts movie star Chan has become a legend for doing his own stunts, which are no less dangerous for being comedic. He has broken many bones and nearly died when he fell from a tree and fractured his skull. Chan holds the Guinness record for Most Stunts by a Living Actor; it is said no company will insure him. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Zoe Bell

    New Zealand-born stuntwoman Bell doubled for Lucy Lawless on “Xena: Warrior Princess” and for Uma Thurman in the “Kill Bill” films. In Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” she clings to the hood of a car going 85 mph. A 2004 documentary, “Double Dare,” focuses on Bell and fellow stuntwoman Jeannie Epper. (The Weinstein Company) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The Flying Wallendas

    The legendary dynasty of circus aerialists began performing in Germany in the 1780s. They were termed the “Flying” Wallendas by a newsman who saw them fall from a wire so gracefully that they appeared to be flying. In 1962, two Wallendas were killed and another paralyzed when their seven-person human pyramid collapsed on the high wire. (Andrew Cutraro / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Evel Knievel

    Robert Craig Knievel became an icon for performing a series of daring motorcycle stunts in the 1960s and ‘70s, including jumping 19 cars on a Harley-Davidson, setting a record that stood for 27 years. He broke a record 433 bones before dying at the age of 69 in 2007 of pulmonary thrombosis. His daredevil son Robbie Knievel carries on his tradition. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Harry Houdini

    Born Erik Weisz in Hungary in 1874, Houdini was arguably the greatest escape artist of all time. His most famous stunts include the Chinese Water Torture Cell (a transparent, water-filled box in which he was inserted upside down with his feet locked in stocks) and escaping from a straitjacket while suspended by his ankles from tall buildings and cranes. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Criss Angel

    Best known for his TV show “Criss Angel Mindfreak” and for dating such celebrities as Cameron Diaz, Criss Angel is an illusionist, escape artist and stunt performer. His illusions have included walking on water, levitating above the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, and being crushed by a steamroller while lying face down on glass. (Tina Fineberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Steve Baker

    Known as “Mr. Escape,” illusionist, comedian and escape artist Baker made his name on such television shows as the ’80s reality series “That’s Incredible!” In 1967 he performed Houdini’s signature stunt of escaping from a straitjacket while suspended from a special hoist on the Oakland Tribune Tower. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Charles Blondin

    Better known as “The Great Blondin,” French acrobat Jean-Francois Gravelet became a legend in the 19th century for his daring tightrope stunts. His trademark stunt was crossing the Niagara Falls gorge in a number of colorful ways, including blindfolded, carrying a man on his back, and sitting down halfway across to cook an omelet. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Philippe Petit

    French street performer turned high wire artist Petit gained fame in August 1974 for walking a cable between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Planning the stunt was nearly as daring as performing it: disguised as workmen, Petit and his henchmen snuck up onto the roof and strung the cable with the help of a bow and arrow. Afterward, all charges against Petit for the illegal stunt were dropped. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. George Willig

    Known as the “Human Fly,” Queens-born toymaker Willig climbed the South Tower of the World Trade Center in 1977, less than three years after Philippe Petit walked between the twin towers. New York mayor Abe Beame punished him by fining him one cent for each story of the building ... a total of $1.10. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Dar Robinson

    Movie stuntman Dar Allen Robinson became legendary for performing some of Hollywood’s most daring jumps; his 220-foot stunt from an Atlanta hotel in the 1981 Burt Reynolds action film “Sharky’s Machine” still holds a record. He also performed such feats as driving over the edge of the Grand Canyon and safely parachuting away. He died during a routine stunt when his motorcycle failed to turn and he drove off a cliff. (the-rocketman.com) Back to slideshow navigation
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