[Deathwatch] Sonora Webster Carver, horse rider, 99

Deathwatch Central cdw at slick.org
Sun Sep 28 10:31:26 PDT 2003

Big thanks to a recent contributor for this one - Ed.

Diving-Horse Rider Sonora Carver Dies
Wed Sep 24, 2:17 PM ET

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. - Sonora Webster Carver, the first woman to ride
the diving horses at Steel Pier in Atlantic City and the inspiration
for the 1991 Disney movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken," has died. She
was 99.

Carver died Sunday at a nursing home, where she resided for several

In 1924, she made history when she plummeted 40 feet on horseback into
a tank of water. The stunt was first performed by W.F. "Doc" Carver,
who became her father-in-law. In 1931, she went blind from detached
retinas suffered after one of her horses, Red Lips, hit the water

Carver continued to ride the high-diving horses until World War II.

During her career, Carver was part of an act that included her sister,
Arnette Webster French, who died in 2000, and their friend Josephine K.
DeAngelis. DeAngelis died on Saturday at 92.

The diving horses were a popular attraction at the pier before being
discontinued in the 1970s after complaints from animal-rights
activists. But Carver insisted the horses loved the dives and were not
forced to jump, according to Atlantic City historian Allen Pergament.

Her 1961 autobiography, "A Girl and Five Brave Horses," was the
inspiration for the Disney film.

Carver's nephew Donald French said his aunt's life was a testimony to
the human spirit.

"Bad things happen to people, but you can't let them get you down,"
French told The Press of Atlantic City. "She represented courage,
fearlessness, but also the fun of the times. She represented Atlantic
City at the height of an era."

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