What Happened To Jimmy Hoffa? The Strange Story Of His Disappearance

Published November 6, 2017
Updated December 18, 2017

Jimmy Hoffa may be the most famous disappeared man in history, and these theories suggest he suffered one of history's most gruesome deaths.

Jimmy Hoffa

Robert W. Kelley/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesJimmy Hoffa at the Teamster’s Union Convention in 1957.

If a writer was trying to come up with a name for a character synonymous with mysterious disappearances and wild goose chases, “James Riddle Hoffa” might be deemed too on-the-nose, unless you’re Thomas Pynchon or DC Comics circa 1950.

But that’s his full name: the Teamsters guy, Jimmy Hoffa, who most people likely know more from the decades of jokes about his disappearance than they do about his role as a labor union leader. But those cracking a knowing smile likely do so because of Hoffa’s well-established Mafia connections and his high-profile criminal trials. Hoffa is sleeping with the fishes or Hoffa got a new pair of cement shoes, etc.

His body long-missing, Jimmy Hoffa has become the embodiment of what happens to those who go against organized crime and pay for it — at least in the public imagination. The reality is that nobody knows for sure what happened to union leader Jimmy Hoffa and no forensics operation to-date has ever amounted to anything approaching a clear picture of how he vanished that day in July 1975.

But Hoffa’s body has suffered an incredible amount of hypothetical abuse, in both rumors and jokes. Saturday Night Live writers, were among the first to crack wise about Hoffa’s disappearance, reporting in 1977 that he was secretly portraying R2-D2 in Star Wars.

Jokes aside, if you ignore all the evidence to the contrary (or the total lack of solid supporting evidence in many cases), the 62-year-old ex-Teamsters leader suffered one of the following gruesome fates…

Kellen Perry
Kellen Perry writes about television, history, music, art, video games, and food for ATI, Grunge, Ranker, Ranker Insights, and anyone else that will have him.
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