Dustin Hoffman and the real-life celebrity superheroes

What have Harrison Ford, Kate Winslet and Timmy Mallett got in common? They're all lifesavers...


Pretending to save lives is part of the day job for many film and TV stars, but lots of entertainers have ended up as real-life heroes too – like Dustin Hoffman, who hit the headlines this week after saving a young jogger’s life in Hyde Park.


The actor raised the alarm by calling 999 when he saw 27-year-old Sam Dempster suffer a heart attack while running, and stayed with the jogger until an ambulance crew arrived on the scene.

On his blog, Dempster thanked medical staff and “my new found favourite celebrity”.

In celebration of Hoffman’s heroism, let’s look at another ten real-life celebrity superheroes….

Harrison Ford

The Indiana Jones star is also a licensed helicopter pilot whose whirly-bird skills have saved a number of lives: first in 2000, when he rescued two female hitchhikers stranded on Table Mountain in Idaho; and again a year later, when he air-lifted a boy scout to safety after the lad got lost in Yellowstone National Park.

Timmy Mallett

Former Wacaday presenter Timmy saved a drowning woman’s life in 2007 after she fell into a marina in freezing conditions. Mallett leaped over a locked gate at the Hartlepool Marina in Teeside, made a 10ft drop to the ground and dragged Geraldine Holland from the icy waters, keeping her warm and conscious until paramedics arrived on the scene.

Kate Winslet

Winslet was pressed into action while holidaying on Richard Branson’s private Caribbean island in 2011 when the Virgin boss’s luxury mansion caught fire, trapping his 90-year-old mother in the blaze. The Titanic star not only managed to get her boyfriend and children out of the inferno, but she carried Branson’s elderly mother to safety too.

John Travolta

Another Hollywood icon whose love of aeronautics helped save the day, Travolta, who is a qualified pilot with his own Boeing 707, flew six tons of ready-to-eat military rations and medical supplies out to Port-au-Prince in Haiti after the island was hit by an earthquake in 2010.

Vin Diesel

Diesel was riding his motorbike around Hollywood in 2002 when a car in front of him carrying a family crashed and burst into flames. The xXx star leapt into action pulling the two children from the back seat and calmly instructed the driver to climb out of the back of car, moments before the vehicle was engulfed by flames.

Tom Cruise

1996 was a heroic year for Cruise. The actor witnessed a hit-and-run incident in Los Angeles and called an ambulance before waiting with the victim and paying her $7,000 emergency bill when he found she was uninsured. Later that year he also rescued two boys pinned against a crowd-control fence at the Mission: Impossible premiere, as well as a French family whose yacht caught ablaze near Capri, Italy.

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling is another repeat-hero. Last summer he was filmed on a mobile phone breaking up a street fight, and in April this year British journalist Laurie Penny sparked a clamour of simpering female fans by tweeting that Gosling had saved her from walking in front of a speeding taxi.


Patrick Dempsey

Life mimicked art when Grey’s Anatomy star Dempsey pulled a teenage boy to safety after his car flipped several times outside the actor’s home. Using a crowbar to manoeuvre 17-year-old Weston Masset from his car, Dempsey then called paramedics and the boy’s mother. Upon recognising his hero, the boy asked “are you famous?” to which Dempsey replied, “I’m a doctor.”

Sean Penn

Penn took direct action when Hurricane Katrina struck back in 2005, commissioning a boat which he personally navigated through the flooded streets in search of victims. Unfortunately the vessel sprang a leak and the actor and his crew had to bale out water, but not before he succeeded in bringing a number of people to safety.

Matthew McConaughey


When a woman suffered a seizure during a screening of his film at the Toronto Film Festival, McConaughey leapt into action, giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Speaking after the event, Janice Flisfeder said: “I felt a man stroking my hair and kissing my forehead saying, ‘It’s okay, sweetheart.’ When I opened my eyes and looked back to him I just thought, ‘Nah can’t be.'”