Top 10 Famous People Who Almost Died on 9/11

Script written by Nathan Sharp.

There are stories of September 11th premonitions saving people from being inside the World Trade Center that day in 2001. In fact, some celebrities narrowly avoided death on 9/11. For example, Gabourey Sidibe was supposed to be in class nearby but overslept, Rob Lowe was on a test-run with the terrorists weeks before, and Olympian Ian Thorpe was heading back to the WTC to play tourist that morning. WatchMojo counts down small choices that saved celebrity lives on 9/11.

Special thanks to our users roxy, Luke Murphy, Emmanuel Dunk and David Powell for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Famous%20People%20Who%20Almost%20Died%20on%20September%2011th


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Script written by Nathan Sharp.

Top 10 Famous People Who Almost Died on 9/11

Sometimes, fate has other plans for you. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 famous people who narrowly avoided death on 9/11.

For this list, we’re looking at those famous people who lived through some close calls on the morning of September 11, 2001, whether in the air or on the ground.

#10: Michael Lomonaco

On the morning of 9/11, Michael Lomonaco was serving as director and head chef at Windows on the World, the globally famous restaurant perched atop the North Tower of the WTC. Lomonaco arrived early to work, so he used that time to stop at the LensCrafters in the tower’s concourse to get his glasses fixed. While this took slightly longer than he was anticipating, the delay ended up saving his life, as he soon heard the rumble from the plane and was quickly evacuated. While Lomonaco was safe, many of his friends and employees were not so lucky, and he could only stare in horror as his restaurant was destroyed.

#9: Patti Austin

Patti Austin was once known as “Queen of the Jingles” due to her appearances in many catchy commercials, and she has since gone on to win a Grammy Award for her album Avant Gershwin. Austin was set to perform at Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Celebration at Madison Square Garden, a set of concerts taking place on September 7 and 10, 2001. However, her mother suffered a stroke back in San Francisco, forcing Austin to fly home early and skip the performance on the 10th. Had she not, she would have boarded United Airlines Flight 93 on the morning of the 11th, the plane that was hijacked and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

#8: Jim Pierce

At the time of the attacks, Jim Pierce was the managing director of an insurance company called AON Corporation. He is also the cousin of then-President George W. Bush. His company’s offices were located on the top floors of the South Tower, and a meeting was scheduled there on the morning of 9/11. However, the group grew too large, and the meeting was therefore moved to a nearby building at the last minute to accommodate. Pierce was in this building when the plane struck the South Tower at 9:03 AM. Unfortunately, 12 employees didn’t get the memo, as they were in the original meeting location when the plane struck. Eleven of them died.

#7: Jackie Chan

This one is an unconfirmed story, but it’s still an interesting story nonetheless. As the tale goes, Chan was set to film a stunt for an upcoming movie at the towers on the morning of 9/11, but he travelled to Toronto at the last minute to film “The Tuxedo” instead. However, as that movie was suffering from production problems, and filming for “The Tuxedo” was planned far in advance, these plans were likely made and cancelled long before 9/11. Even so, it is entirely possible that Chan was at one time scheduled to be at the towers on the morning of September 11.

#6: Rob Lowe

In September of 2001, Rob Lowe was still a regular on “The West Wing” and often flew on a route from Dulles International to Los Angeles – the same route that ended up hitting the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11. Lowe later found out that one day a couple of weeks prior to the attacks, he had flown with the terrorists who would eventually take part in 9/11, on their practice run. While Lowe thought nothing of it at the time, he later received a letter from the Attorney General of Maryland declaring that he was on the dry run and might’ve had to testify against al Qaeda leader Zacarias Moussaoui.

#5: Gabourey Sidibe

Sidibe made quite the name for herself in 2009 when she starred in “Precious,” a role that secured her an Academy Award nomination. But eight years earlier, she was a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College. On the morning of September 11, she did what any student does: slept in and missed her class. Later that day, debris from the one of the falling towers hit the building she was supposed to be having class in, causing extensive damage and killing both students and teachers who were inside at the time.

#4: Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe was on top of the world in the summer of 2001: he was 18 years old, had just won five Olympic medals in Sydney, and won six gold medals at the 2001 World Aquatics Championships, making him the first person to do so. He was out for a run on the morning of September 11 when he came across the Twin Towers. He then decided to return to his hotel room to grab his camera and traveling partner before venturing back and playing tourist. However, once he returned to his hotel, he turned on the TV and discovered that the planes had hit.

#3: Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson became world-famous as Sarah, Duchess of York, since she was married to Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the son of Queen Elizabeth II. While they divorced in 1996, she was still active in the public eye, especially with her charity Chances for Children, whose offices were on the 101st floor of the North Tower. Ferguson was planning on being there the morning of 9/11, but she was being interviewed on “Good Morning America” and running behind schedule. If she hadn’t been interviewed that day, or if the interview had been on schedule, she would have been in her office, and she would have almost certainly died.

#2: Mark Wahlberg

Wahlberg was scheduled to take American Airlines Flight 11, leaving from Boston to Los Angeles, but decided to cancel his plans a week earlier. Instead, he and a few buddies flew to Toronto to watch another friend’s movie, which was being shown at the Toronto Film Festival, and he was going to fly to L.A. from Toronto. This decision ended up saving his life. He later received a bit of flak for his response to the tragedy; as he went on to say that had he been on Flight 11, he would have handled the situation and foiled the terrorist plot himself. And as it turns out, he wasn’t the only celebrity scheduled on that flight…

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Daniel Belardinelli
- Larry Silverstein
- Julie Stoffer

#1: Seth MacFarlane

By September 2001, Seth MacFarlane’s career was skyrocketing: he was only 27 years old, and his acclaimed show “Family Guy” was in the middle of its third season. Because of his success, he was giving a speech at his alma mater in Rhode Island on the night of September 10, due to fly back to LA in the morning. However, MacFarlane was hung over, overslept and had been given the wrong departure time by his travel agent, so he missed American Airlines Flight 11 by 15 minutes. And this was a confluence of events that undoubtedly saved his life.

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