This year, Titanic, the movie that left everyone in tears, will mark a major milestone. It’s hard to believe, but the iconic movie will turn 20 years old in 2017. Now, two decades later, apropos of this anniversary, let’s see some unknown, and surprising facts about the real Titanic itself.
1) The first movie
The first Titanic movie was made less than a month after the disaster and featured an actress that survived the sinking. The Saved from the Titanic is a 1912 American silent motion picture, starring Dorothy Gibson, who survived the sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. The film premiered in the United States just 29 days after the disaster. The film was released internationally and attracted large audiences and positive reviews, though some criticized it for commercializing the tragedy so soon after the event.
2) The weather was not bad at all
It’s easy to imagine the Titanic battling huge waves at sea, with fog and rain obscuring the iceberg, but in reality, the opposite was true. Generally, photophorescent plankton pushes on the side of an iceberg causing it to glow. Unfortunately, since the plankton were not present, the iceberg was not noticed until about a minute before it was too late, and the captain could not take actions to avoid the iceberg.
3) The captain failed his navigation exam
In 2012, it was revealed that Captain E.J. Smith failed his navigation test the first time he took it, but was eventually given the all clear and received his Master’s Certificate in February 1888. He was nicknamed the ‘millionaire captain’, but he shouldn’t have increased speed in an area known for icebergs.
4) The real Titanic necklace
James Cameron’s Titanic features a forbidden romance and a magnificent necklace known as the “Heart of the Ocean,” details which you’d assume were simply added to make the movie more interesting. But it turns out the real Titanic played host to a very similar story, as passenger Kate Florence Philips received a valuable sapphire necklace from her illicit lover, Henry Morley.
5) Dogs of the Titanic
Only first class passengers were allowed to bring dogs on the voyage and many belonged to prominent families. There were 12 confirmed dogs on board the Titanic including a Toy Poodle, a Fox Terrier, a French Bulldog and millionaire John Jacob Astor’s Airedale named Kitty. Out of the 12 dogs only three survived, they were all small enough to be smuggled onto the lifeboats.
6) The tragic foresight of William T. Stead
According to folklore, legendary journalist, William T. Stead had foreseen his death on the Titanic decades earlier, as suggested in his two fictional “sinking” stories, How the Mail Steamer went Down in Mid Atlantic (1886) and From the Old World to the New (1892). Two decades later, Stead lost his own life as a passenger on the Titanic. The liner only carried 20 lifeboats, barely enough for half of the passengers on board.
7) None of the musicians survived
One of the most famous stories of Titanic is of the ship’s band. On 15 April the eight-member band, led by Wallace Hartley, had assembled in the first-class lounge in an effort to keep passengers calm and upbeat. As seen in the movie as well, the musicians continued to play while the ship was sinking. Unfortunately, none of them survived.
8) The Titanic almost sank Milton Hershey
The man behind the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s Syrup, and the Pennsylvania city that bears his name had spent the winter in France and planned to sail home on the Titanic. Fortunately for Hershey, he had to catch a ship earlier because of business, and they sailed back home with the German liner, Amerika. The Amerika would earn its own footnote in the disaster, as one of several ships to send the Titanic warnings of ice in its path.
9) The New York Times devoted 75 pages to the disaster
The newspaper covered the Titanic disaster through 75 pages in the initial week. Currently, the leading coverage any event has gotten from the New York Times was the September 11th disaster. Newspapers all over the USA’s eastern seaboard splashed with the news as reports came in from the Carpathia’s wireless operators. On April 16 the New York Times ran with a list of those who had been picked up by the Carpathia and also updated readers on the status of society figures on board – the celebrities of the day. The paper put the initial death toll at about 1,250.
10) The ship’s interior
The ship’s interiors were loosely inspired by those at the Ritz Hotel in London. Facilities on board included a gym, a pool, a Turkish bath, a kennel for first class dogs, and a squash court. It even had its own on board newspaper – the Atlantic Daily Bulletin.