Famous Titanic Passengers
The famous flocked to the Titanic. With ocean travel the only way to get from continent to continent, the wealthy were drawn to the Titanic, the ship touted as the single most luxurious and greatest steamship ever built.
Colonel John Jacob Astor IV
Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, a real estate millionaire, sailed on the Titanic with his pregnant 18-year-old wife (he was 48). Astor went down with the Titanic and ended up covered in soot from head to toe when the forward funnel fell and crushed him. His wife, Madeleine, survived.
Astor was eulogized as a hero for going down with the ship after seeing to the safety of his pregnant wife. He requested a place on the lifeboat with his wife, but from all accounts, when he was turned away, he calmly accepted his fate.
Madeleine Astor was Colonel Astor’s wife. After her husband’s death aboard the Titanic, Mrs. Astor inherited a $5 million trust fund and the use of her husband’s residences on the condition that she never remarry. She eventually relinquished her inheritance so she could marry — and divorce — twice more.
J. Bruce Ismay
J. Bruce Ismay was the chairman and managing director of the White Star Line. He was the person who sketched the first plans for the Titanic on a dinner napkin in 1907.
To this day, some people believe that Ismay behaved like a scoundrel on the night Titanic sank. He left aboard one of the last collapsible lifeboats, shirking his responsibilities as a gentleman and White Star executive by leaving the ship when hundreds of passengers, many of them women and children, were still aboard. Ismay swore there were no more passengers on the deck when he was offered a place in a lifeboat.
Isidor and Ida Straus
Isidor Straus was a first-class passenger and the millionaire founder of the Macy’s department store chain. Straus remained on the Titanic and was last seen sitting with his wife on deck chairs waiting for the end to come.
Margaret Tobin (Molly) Brown
Margaret Tobin Brown, known to the world as “the unsinkable Molly Brown” (even though no one called her Molly until after her death), was the wife of the Colorado mining kingpin J.J. Brown. Ms. Brown took charge of Lifeboat 6 and threatened to throw Quartermaster Robert Hichens overboard when he refused to allow her and the other women in Lifeboat 6 to row back to the site of the Titanic’s sinking to look for survivors in the water.
Dorothy Gibson, a 22-year-old singer, model, and silent-movie star, survived the sinking of the Titanic and went on to star in a silent film called Saved from the Titanic (also known as I Survived the Titanic). Gibson’s was the first movie made about the disaster. The film was released on May 14, 1912, just one month after her rescue. In the film, Gibson wore the same dress, sweater, gloves, and black pumps she had been wearing when she was pulled from Lifeboat 7, the first boat launched. Gibson was one of the first people saved.
Benjamin Guggenheim, a wealthy industrialist and heir to the Guggenheim mining fortune, is remembered for saying as the Titanic sank into the icy Atlantic, “We’re dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” Legend has it that Guggenheim and his valet smoked cigars and sipped brandy while awaiting their deaths.