Astor's Death - Condition of the Body

Mar 18, 2000
See [defunct link deleted; see below] for details on Astor's body

[Moderator's Note: Four separate threads discussing the manner of Astor's death and/or the condition of his body when it was recovered have been combined to form this one. MAB]


It is commonly thought Mr. Astor died when the first smoke stack fell, but in Gracie's book he has another theory, that it was the explosion of the boilers. Did they ever figure out each one it was? I mean if it was the boiler explosion that kill Colonel Astor and his body was found wouldn't there have been a lot more bodies found in that condition?

Dave Gittins

Mar 16, 2000
"It is commonly thought Mr. Astor died when the first smoke stack fell."

Not on this forum! The falling funnel story is a third hand account that comes via Colonel Gracie. It has no other support.

As no boilers exploded, Astor couldn't have been killed by one.

Astor probably died from hypothermia, like many others. This was not well understood in 1912 and victims were generally recorded as 'drowned' or sometimes 'died of exposure'.

His death certificate may be on this site somewhere.

Paul Lee

Aug 11, 2003
Defunct link deleted; see below for updated link..-MAB

[Moderator's Note: This message and the two above it, originally a separate thread, have been moved to this thread addressing the same subject. MAB]

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
Hey, Paul---

George's web pages have now moved from Compuserve, where that Google cache was taken from, to Comcast, thanks to Bill Wormstedt. This is the link for the home page, while the specific page discussing Astor is the page linked to by Bill in the first message on this page.

Dan Kappes

Aug 17, 2009
Apple Valley, Minnesota, United States
In James Cameron's 1997 film, he is seen in the Grand Staircase when its glass dome shatters and it's flooded.

However, in reality, his body was recovered after the sinking and it was realized that he was crushed to death by the collapse of the first funnel, which is depicted accurately in the 2012 TV miniseries.

In Cameron's film, the first funnel collapses moments before the Grand Staircase floods.

Did Cameron accidentally overlook this fact while he was making the film? Or did he decide to have the collapsing first funnel crush the fictional character Fabrizio and moved Astor's death to the Grand Staircase flooding?

Here is a screencap from the film:
Mar 18, 2008
That Astor was crushed by the falling 1st funnel is only a myth. His recovered body actually did not show any sights of it.

Why in the staircase, because the film skript had it so.

Dan Kappes

Aug 17, 2009
Apple Valley, Minnesota, United States
That Astor was crushed by the falling 1st funnel is only a myth. His recovered body actually did not show any sights of it.

Why in the staircase, because the film skript had it so.
I don't know if it's a myth or not; I think I read about the body recovery in the second edition of the book Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy and the book Titanic: An Illustrated History. It appeared crushed and had soot on it. They could only identify him by the belongings in his pockets.
Jan 23, 2019
Like many things up to an including Jack's death; dramatic purposes. I think his movie is best seen as historical fiction, even with his attempts to show real events and recreate historical photographs. Think of how melodramatic the whole thing is after the iceberg is struck, I'm not sure if that's how people would have behaved or if it's a reference to acting in older movies. Maybe it's justified to pick apart all the historical bits while ignoring the fictional bits. Maybe Cameron just made the thing whole cloth for the sole purposes of entertainment, not to be educational, and it's pointless to say anything other than "It's a movie."

I'm partial to the theory the whole thing is the result of Rose's faulty memory and attempts to fill in the gaps for events she didn't witness. It's basically an attempt to excuse the inaccuracies (read; having my cake and eating it too), but I'd like to point out the same was done with the cinematic versions of Jurassic Park to the point it became canon. The animals in the first movie were what the filmmakers genuinely thought the real versions were like. When all the mistakes became realized and retcons made, Jurassic World made canon what fans had used as an excuse for over a decade. They were just what Hammond and InGen wanted, not what was real.

Jurassic Park/World is entirely fiction (or is it?), but I think the comparison is apt.

Brad Rousse

Nov 27, 2002
Prague, Czech Rep.
I believe storywise it was a bit of dramatic symbolism on Cameron's part. He thought it had some meaning to have the richest person and the ship's showpiece go out together. I forget where he said this, though.

Scott Mills

Jul 10, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
I've always found it odd that Astor did not give all the money he had in his pockets to Madeline, as he knew he would not be needing it any longer.

Because, I suspect, even when the odds look very long indeed, the human survival instinct is hard to override. Given that, and given that one assumes that from a psychological perspective one is going to do everything they can to survive, or that some miracle will happen--like rescue appearing before the ship actually founders--a person in these situations assumes they are going to survive. And since they are going to survive, under who knows what conditions for who knows how long, they too will probably need money. Especially an exceptionally wealthy man like Astor.


Jun 9, 2016
I think it was a pittance to Astor in terms of his money on deposit in America and Europe. As Scott pointed out, a fellow is gonna need some pocket money once he's picked up and things are set to right. I doubt a man of Astor's profile gave death leeway in his thinking.
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May 24, 2018
That and you wouldn't want to send your wife into a panic. I can't recall where it was in On A Sea Of Glass but I seem to recall that Mrs. Astor refused to get into No. 7 Boat due to the height above the waterline, so it was established fairly early on that Maddie was very much on edge from the outset of the collision. Giving her his pocket money would have been even more disruptive in getting her on a boat, even one as late as No. 4 Boat and with the, shall we say, unorthodox method of loading.

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