Name at birth: Joseph Force Crater
On 6 August 1930, New York Supreme Court justice Joseph Crater made plans to attend the Broadway play Dancing Partner -- or so he told friends. In fact he went to his office and removed various papers from his files, then cashed two large checks. Later that day he stepped into a taxi and vanished without a trace. His disappearance created a public sensation. Some speculated that Judge Crater was involved in illegal activities or had been murdered by organized crime, but no firm evidence was ever found; nearly a decade later he was finally declared legally dead. Judge Crater never reappeared and his name became a pop culture synonym for mysterious disappearances.
Judge Crater was the inspiration for the 1947 film The Judge Steps Out, starring Alexander Knox as a distinguished jurist who drops everything for a road trip.