still one of the worst peacetime disasters at sea, the sinking of the rms titanic on her maiden voyage in the early hours of april 15, 1912 claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people. conspicuously, it was the lower third-class passengers who suffered the most losses (about two-thirds of them perished) and the “unsinkable” liner certainly put to sea with very few lifeboats.
although traveling by sea is now much safer, albeit not without risk, as the recent tragedy on italy’s costa concordia demonstrated, sinking still captures the public imagination, and then as now, the public wanted to know the notable names among the dead.
The following is a list of famous people who went down with the ship.
before the titanic set sail, it had to be built. For the 2,000 workers assigned to the task at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, it was the latest in a long line of major projects and took 3,000,000 rivets to build. it was dirty, noisy and dangerous work, and safety precautions were almost non-existent. deaths were expected, and apart from hundreds of injuries, at least a handful of people died during the construction process, in the shipyard and before launch. these men (their names are not easy to find) were possibly the first deaths on the titanic.
john jacob astor iv
Of the victims of the royal sinking, the most famous, and the richest, was probably John Jacob Astor IV, a German-American millionaire who had made his fortune in real estate and was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, founder of the waldorf astoria hotel in new york. Following the women and children first guidelines, Astor IV’s wife made it to a lifeboat and survived, but Astor did not and died at age 47.
another famous and wealthy passenger who died was benjamin guggenheim, heir to the family’s mining business. he initially thought the accident was minor, but when he realized the titanic was going to sink and rescue was unlikely, the story goes that he changed into his formal evening wear to face death. Ironically, he wasn’t even meant to be on the Titanic; He was scheduled to sail on the Lusitania, but when that ship needed repairs, he decided to take a trip on the newest luxury liner.
isidor straus was the german co-owner of macy’s department store in new york, and died along with his wife ida. They were last seen sitting on deckchairs on the deck, having refused to be separated in the lifeboats – they wanted to be together, no matter what (in the 1997 film Titanic, they are shown lying on the bed together as the water rushes in). in the room ). The only consolation for the bereaved family was that Stuart’s grandson was also going to be on the trip, but since he was ill they had left him in England.
Deaths among the crew also numbered two-thirds, and while almost none of them were famous before the voyage, some became world-famous afterward. jack phillips was the main wireless operator on board, and he was the one who sent the distress and rescue signals: the code cqd, although the new sos was replacing it, and he transmitted it too. Always under pressure to send messages to passengers as well, he was later blamed for not passing messages from the steamboat Mesaba and the SS Californian, who had reported icebergs and ice en route ahead of the Titanic. Both Phillips and his colleague Harold Bride worked until the power went out, then headed to safety. Phillips did not survive his in the water in the capsized lifeboat, but his girlfriend did.
Certainly, one of the most famous people after the disaster was Ulsterman Thomas Andrews, the engineer who oversaw the construction of the Titanic. it was standard practice for designers and engineers to travel on the maiden voyage to assess the design and look at problems, but andrews was confident in “his” titanic and considered it to be the best built possible, however, once he determined that the injury caused to hit the iceberg was more than the separate hulls could take, he knew he was going to sink. he stayed on board until the end, helping the passengers and taking advantage of every second he could before his dream sank forever.
the band that was playing
Perhaps the most famous group of victims was the band of eight musicians who played as the ship sank beneath the waves. Led by bandleader and violinist Wallace Hartley, they sat on the icy deck and played upbeat music to try to calm passengers as they boarded the lifeboats. the last song they played has been called into question: it was closer, my god, to you, or a waltz called autumn, but either way, they all died. About 40,000 people lined the route for Hartley’s funeral in Colne, Lancashire, and a blue plaque was placed at his home. There is also a bust of him there, and streets, housing projects and even a local pub have been named after him.
captain edward smith
as the law of the sea seems to dictate, captain edward smith went down with his ship. Although he had been in charge of the Titanic’s sister ship, the RMS Olympic, during a collision with the HMS Hawke the previous year, he had plenty of experience and was given command of the Titanic. However, Smith’s actions after the accident have been heavily criticized; perhaps his realization that the lifeboats were not going to be enough for the passengers and crew was the fatal blow.
there are still more than a hundred unidentified bodies buried in a cemetery in nova scotia, canada, although in 2008 one of them was finally given a name. a team of 100 scientists and researchers had been working for almost a decade to solve the mystery of this young man – known to all as the “unknown child” – and after exhumations, dna tests, a worldwide genealogical investigation, a pair of shoes rescued from the shipwreck (and a misidentification), it was announced to media around the world that the child was 19-month-old sidney leslie goodwin from england.
fictitious jack dawson
This is not strictly a death of the titanic, but it is certainly one of the most famous. The 1997 film directed by James Cameron was a phenomenon, and was the first to break the billion dollar barrier at the box office. Until Cameron’s Avatar bested it, Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, was the biggest movie of all time. As Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater, they meet and fall in love on board and go into the water together when the ship sinks. They find a door to cling to, but it won’t support their weight, so Jack is left in the frozen sea, clinging to the side, and to the tears of teenagers everywhere, he dies so Rose can live. Titanic is in theaters again right now for the 100th anniversary, but this time you can relive the romance and tragedy in glorious 3D!