Charles Stephens (daredevil)

Charles Stephens or Demon Barber of Bedminster (1862 – 11 July 1920) was an English barber and daredevil. Stephens was the first person to die attempting to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.[1][2] He is also the third person and second man to attempt this stunt. A barber living and working in Bristol, Stephens started performing stunts to support his family, which included his wife, Annie, and their 11 children. Charles moved to Ferndale in the Rhondda Valleys where he worked as a barber.

Charles Stephens
Charles Stephens barrel 1920.jpg
Died11 July 1920(1920-07-11) (aged 57–58)
OccupationBarber, daredevil
Known forBeing the first person to die attempting to go over Niagara Falls
Spouse(s)Annie Stephens

After calling the stunt a "cool commercial proposition", Stephens went over the Horseshoe Falls in an oak barrel,[3] using an anvil for ballast; this proved to be fatal. Stephens ignored warnings from his advisers, fellow Niagara daredevils, Bobby Leach and William "Red" Hill Sr., who suggested he test the barrel before going over the Falls. Stephens had not only strapped himself into the barrel but also strapped his feet to the anvil. As a result, Stephens was dragged under the Falls after the anvil broke the bottom of the barrel. Stephens' severed right arm, the only part recovered, is buried in the Drummond Hills Cemetery in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He received a Darwin Award for his death.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Charles G. Stephens". Niagara Daredevils. Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Charles Stephens". Niagara Falls info. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  3. ^ "A Fatal Ride Over Niagara Falls". Popular Science. September 1920. p. 43. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  4. ^ Northcutt, Wendy (1994). "1994 Darwin Award: Bottom of the Barrel". Retrieved 10 March 2020.

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