James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic singlehandedly brought the infamous 1912 sinking back into the limelight. The award-winning epic earned endless praise for its accuracy and attention to detail, though most never realized that nearly every character in the film was based on an actual person. From Margaret "Molly" Brown to the actual Rose DeWitt Bukater, these real-life counterparts of Titanic characters had stories far more incredible than one movie could hope to share.
1. Wallace Henry Hartley
The musician who continued to play his violin even as the ship sank in the film actually did this during the real-life disaster. His music was meant to calm passengers as they boarded the lifeboats. Unfortunately, Wallace died on the deck of the Titanic, but some of the survivors shared his story.
This Bavarian-born businessman and politician helped found Macy's and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1894 to 1895. Along with his wife, Ida, he refused to get on a lifeboat until all of the women and children were safe. He remained on board as the Titanic sank, perishing below deck.
3. Ida Straus
Like her husband, Ida was also from Germany. They had seven children and were madly in love, according to their relatives. Even when Ida was offered a spot on a boat, she remained on the ship because she didn’t want to leave Isidor. Together, their fate was sealed.
4. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon
Lucy was a fashion designer who was famous for her lingerie, but also wrote columns for Good Housekeeping and Harper's Bazaar. The actor who portrayed Lucy, Rosalind Ayres, is a real-life designer, too. Rosalind is married to Martin Jarvis, who played her character's husband in the movie.
5. Madeleine Force
Madeleine and her husband, John Jacob Astor IV, were sailing to America so the pregnant Madeleine could have her baby in the U.S. She made it through the disaster while five months pregnant. Four months later, she gave birth to her child. The actor who played Madeleine was pregnant while filming.
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