The iconic 1997 movie Titanic, while dealing with one of the most horrific disasters in history, also brought the story of several real-life passengers to the big screen. Directed by James Cameron and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, this movie managed to wow audiences. However, there is a fact that many of us probably don’t know. The stories of some of the people we see in the movie are actually based on people who boarded the Titanic and lived through that terrible night. In this article, we will explore 11 real passengers from the Titanic movie and take a look at their stories.
1. Margaret Brown
Margaret Brown, known as a philanthropist and activist, was one of the passengers on the Titanic. Margaret was known for her devotion and compassion for others. She remembers the scene in the movie where Jack presents his son with a suit. He did so much more than that in real life, making heroic efforts to steer passengers aboard rescue boats and disregarding his own safety until the very last moment. Even after being rescued by the ocean liner Carpathia, Margaret sets up several committees to provide financial and psychological support to the survivors. As a result of all this help, she was dubbed “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”.
Second Captain Edward Smith
The captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, came from a working family. He began his career as an apprentice in 1867 and left school at the age of thirteen. In the following periods, he continued his career by working on ships. He has been at sea for more than 40 years as the White Star Line’s most experienced captain during the Titanic’s voyage. The ill-fated Titanic would be her last voyage before retirement.
3. J. Bruce Ismay
Joseph Bruce Ismay was President and Director of the White Star Line. He planned to get ahead of his competitors by building the glowing and unique Titanic. He had made the controversial decision to reduce the number of lifeboats on board from 48 to 16. After escaping from the ship, he faced public backlash for abandoning the women and children on board. People said he was a “wimp,” that adjective stuck with Ismay forever. This is how the character is portrayed in the movie.
4. Thomas Andrews
Thomas Andrews, who designed the Titanic, participated in the first and last voyage of the ship. After the Titanic hit the iceberg, Andrews was one of the few people who noticed the ship was sinking. Andrews helped passengers who wanted to get into the lifeboats. He personally checked the cabins, told people to put on life jackets and took them to the deck. Despite his valiant efforts, Andrews, along with the Titanic, sank into the deep waters of the ocean.
5. John Jacob Astor
John Jacob Astor was a first class passenger on the Titanic. He was a member of the American millionaire Astor family and a colonel who served in the Spanish–American War. Astor is considered the richest passenger of the Titanic and was among the richest people in the world at the time. When he died on the day of the disaster, his net worth was approximately $87 million. That amount was the equivalent of $2.44 billion in 2021. Now it may be much more than that.
6. William McMaster Murdoch
William Murdoch was an experienced officer and sailor on the Titanic. He was on deck on the day of the disaster. Although he tried to avoid collision, the iceberg was spotted too late. The crew had only 37 seconds to respond before the accident. James Cameron’s portrayal of Murdoch in the film generated controversy. Murdoch’s nephew said the character is complex and ambiguous. The filmmakers then visited Murdoch’s hometown and donated it to a foundation established in his memory.
7. Frederick Fleet
Two people were responsible for watching the sea the night the Titanic sank. One of them was a young man named Frederick Fleet. Having survived the ship, she testified before the American and British commissions investigating the disaster. He claimed that he had not been given binoculars during the flight, otherwise the iceberg would have been noticed much earlier. Despite Fleet’s testimony, some experts felt that binoculars wouldn’t work at night either.
8. Madeline Force
Madeline Force, who was 18 at the time of the flight, was the wife of John Jacob Astor. She was a first-class passenger on the Titanic with her husband from Cherbourg, France, her husband’s butler, Victor Robins, her maid Rosalie Bedois, and her nurse, Caroline Endres. Also with them was Astor’s Airedale dog, Kitty. Madeline was five months pregnant when she boarded the ship. He was also one of the lucky survivors that day.
9. Charles Lightoller
Charles Lightoller was the first captain of the Titanic. He managed to escape by jumping before the ship sank and escaped by clinging to an overturned boat. He was the highest-ranking person who survived the disaster. After the accident, Lightoller worked to improve passenger safety procedures on the ships. His proposals included such important changes as increasing the number of lifeboats, providing training in their use, providing 24-hour radio communications with other ships, and transmitting warnings of hazardous weather conditions. His efforts helped shape passenger transportation standards today.
10. Archibald Gracie IV
Archibald Gracie IV was a distinguished writer and was a first class passenger on the Titanic. When the ship sank, Gracie Lightoller helped evacuate women and children. Later, he escaped in an overturned boat, but suffered from hypothermia and his health was severely damaged. Despite this, Gracie decided to document what happened that night. Back in New York, he began writing a diary describing his experiences on the Titanic. This article has subsequently become a valuable resource for historians and scholars who want to understand the disaster. Sadly, Gracie died of complications from diabetes just eight months after the disaster.
11. Wallace Hartley
Remember the scene where the orchestra continued to play while the Titanic sank? As impossible as it may sound, it actually happened. Wallace Hartley was the captain of the ship, and after hitting the iceberg, he and other musicians began playing music to calm the passengers. According to many witnesses, the orchestra continued to play until the ship sank. All musicians died. In 2006, the musician’s violin was found. Behind her was a letter from Hartley’s fiancée, Maria. “To Wallace, Maria, to celebrate our engagement.”
You may be interested in:
Benjamin Guggenheim: the American millionaire who fell “like a gentleman” from the Titanic
Omar Khayyam sank with the Titanic, Part Two. The sad story of a book smolder in World War II
From the Titanic to Antikythera: The 9 Most Famous Shipwrecks Ever Found
Together Until the Last Minute: The story of the couple who died together when the Titanic sank
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