Extreme Sports Image Gallery
Extreme Sports Image Gallery

Extreme Sports Image Gallery Wing walkers came into prominence in the 1920s. See more pictures of extreme sports.

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Going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, being shot from a cannon, walking on a tightrope high above a city street -- no one can dispute that daredevils captivate the public. From biplane wing walkers to Evel Knievel to the thick-headed morons of "Jackass" -- daredevils do what it takes to get attention.

So what makes a daredevil, and why do we watch? Some might say that any bungee jumper or mountain climber is a daredevil. Others might argue for NASCAR driver­s or Hollywood stuntmen. Aviators consider Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh daredevils for flying nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean.

­The truth is, there's no set definition for the term, but one thing all daredevils have in common is that they put their life on the line -- often with a high degree of recklessness. Viewers tune in to daredevil television specials for the chance to see a spectacular crash as much as a riveting stunt. Or maybe we watch to see someone attempt something we'd never try. No one knows for sure why these people risk their lives to thrill others.

In this article, we'll look the history of these people who risk death for a brief moment in the limelight. We'll also look at some of the most famous daredevils and what they've done to earn this distinction.