Diana Knodi

Dies 1960

Name ID 1469

See also

Herne, Brian White Hunters: The golden age of African Safaris
Page Number: 314
Extract Date: 1960 Nov 1

Hatari Tragedy

After Lionel's [Hartley] death, Diana took her two young children and stayed for a while with Carr Hartley's family at Rumuruti. There she met one of Carr's employees, an Austrian named Heini Demmer. Diana promptly went into an animal-trapping partnership with Demmer - to supply zoos - in direct competition with Carr Hartley, Diana's brother-in-law. Later still, Diana Hartley married Eddie Knodi, a chef at Nairobi's Norfolk Hotel.

Violence continued to stalk the family. Diana's own mother, Mary, was hacked to death with machetes by Mau Mau thugs who attacked the family's Nyeri farmhouse during the Mau Mau Emergency. Diana's seventy-year-old stepfather, G. A. Leakey, who was a blood brother of the Kikuyu tribe, was dragged off by the same gang and buried alive in October 1954. Gray and Mary Leakey are now in the same grave at Nyeri cemetery.

Diana (Hartley) Knodi also died tragically. She was killed by a "tame" lion while working on the Hollywood epic about professional animal catchers, Hatari. On November 1, 1960, Diana Knodi entered the lion's cage and it sprang on her. It bit her three times, on the chin, throat, and chest, then mauled her to death. White hunter Bill Ryan, who was on the film set nearby with stars John Wayne, Hardy Kruger, Red Buttons, and the actress Capucine, commented, "Diana should never have got into the cage with that lion. She didn't have a chance."

Diana's only son, also named Lionel, began his professional hunting apprenticeship in 1970 with myself [Brian Herne] and Nick Swan. He was in the hunting business for seven years, until March 1977.

Note 1: (from MEABOOKS Inc. African book Catalogue)

BEYOND VIOLENCE (Hofmeyr, Agnes Leakey.)

91pp, PB, 1990,

"Gray Leakey was buried alive on Mount Kenya as a human sacrifice to the gods of Mau Mau. This story is written by his daughter, now living in South Africa… The Mau Mau revolution led to a double tragedy in her family. The book describes the author's inner battle battle to come to terms with disaster and the extraodrinary events that brought her and the very man who had planned her father's death together in the search for a new kind of world…",

Note 2: (from Internet Movie Database)

Capucine did not appear in Hatari. But she did feature in a 1962 film set in Kenya call The Lion. (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0056186/)

Extract ID: 3840
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