Bigham's Finding Dorothy


Aug 12, 2004
6
0
71
Hello ET!

This is my first posting, although I feel like I've been a part of the site for a long time, having heard about it and its interesting personalities from Randy Bigham. Randy has been a coworker of mine and a very close friend for several years. So it's great to now be working with him on another project - and one he feels so deeply about. For me, the Titanic was always an interesting topic but I didn't realize the extent of the actual disaster until seeing the 1997 movie.

On meeting Randy, when we were both junior reporters, and learning about this passion of his, I started seeing it as more than a disaster but as a window into a very fascinating period of history. Randy's knowledge of the culture of that era - particularly as it relates to the changing role of women - has opened the story up to me in a new way. He has made it live.

And that's what we hope the first five women we have selected for our "Titanic First Ladies" book series will do - live. We want them to live again for readers who are interested in discovering more about them than their Titanic experience.

For this series, Randy has delved into the human side of these women, and the tale he tells is captivating. Dorothy Gibson was not his first choice to begin the series. He had his heart set on another of "my gals," as he affectionately calls these inspiring women. But Dorothy was chosen as the most marketable to launch the project.

I know Randy was expecting me to ask specific questions of members in this post but I am going to do that privately. I have a folder filled with names of experts, some of whom I have been in touch with, and there are still others I plan to run questions by. We welcome their participation and each will be duly credited in the finished product. We are making this extra effort as Randy said the Titanic community will not forgive glaring errors of fact!

For more information, please feel free to contact me. We have already received questions about pre-ordering and that will be covered in a release I'll send to E-T, the Titanic-Titanic site, and to Michael Tennaro's book site.

Important facts: a significant percentage of proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the British Titanic Society and the Fort Lee Film Commission. The book is actually a package enclosing a soft cover book in magazine format, a CD-ROM of select images and two reproduction art prints, suitable for framing. The price will be $24.99.

I look forward to corresponding (and hopefully meeting) with some of you in the near future.

Regards,
Jennifer Mills,
Project Coordinator/Editor,
"Finding Dorothy"
 
Nov 12, 2000
682
3
171
Jennifer, welcome to the board. We look forward to hearing more about this project as it grows and develops.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
May 12, 2005
3,109
7
163
Thanks Jennifer for making the effort to reach out. Hopefully, you'll get to know some of the group here.

Also thanks to all of you who've been helping us get the Titanic portion of the story just right. Drafts will go out next week. I appreciate you and so does Jen.

Jen is very modest but she's a big part of this project. She is only 24 but is the best editor anyone could have (though she's just a little bossy
happy.gif
). I hope you all get to meet her. She's not only talented but is one of the most charming, attractive young women you could hope to know.

Thanks again to everybody. I hope you will enjoy this book.

Randy
 
May 12, 2005
3,109
7
163
"Finding Dorothy" is nearing publication — just 4 weeks away, pending the arrival of photographs from several archives and private collectors.

A press release will be going out to Michael Tennaro next week for his Website, along with files of the front and back covers. Meantime advertisements will be going up on a number of silent movie Websites while print ads will be published in upcoming issues of several magazines and journals, including the Atlantic Daily Bulletin.

Thanks to all in the Titanic community who have helped us make the chapters on Dorothy’s experiences in the disaster as accurate as possible.

Along with the participation of the leading authorities on Titanic, this book has enlisted the assistance of numerous other experts, including film historians Frank Thompson and Marc Wanamaker and art historian Q. David Bowers. Numerous collectors of art and movie memorabilia have lent material from their collections. There have been incredible gestures of generosity and some amazing discoveries in the last few months. Museums, libraries and archives — from Fort Lee to the Vatican — have provided some of the most gracious help I have ever encountered in my years of research.

The story of Dorothy Gibson Brulatour’s life was far more penetrating than I could have imagined. I began the project with my primary interest being Dot’s film and modeling career but have ended it with a fresh appreciation of her as a human being, flaws and all (and there were many).

From press interviews and movie reviews during her days of fame to intelligence dossiers when she was giving a different kind of performance, this woman’s extraordinary force and charm captivated me. I’ve even been able to bring her story down to the present day, having found the priest who aided Dot in her escape from the Nazis, still living and preaching in the Italy he loves. Elderly but full of memories of his days as a proud resistance fighter, this man’s words gave wondrous color and texture to the mysterious side of Dorothy, whom he recalled as a shattered woman but "with a spirit of hope," all the more radiant in that most perilous moment of her life. "God has saved my soul," she told him tearfully when she had reached the safety of the Swiss border. "And you have saved my life."

The title for this book, "Finding Dorothy" was always just a working title because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to uncover enough to justify its use. But with the help of so many of you, especially Phil Gowan, who after all found her first, I believe I’ve gotten as near as anyone can probably get to understanding her. I hope you, too, will enjoy "Finding Dorothy" as you read of her amazing journey.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
5
223
Dorothy and Lusitania's Rita Jolivet have fascinated many for a long time-more for their personal lives than anything on screen I suspect. I recall Don Lynch really ignited the interest in Dot when he was helping author Rustie Brown with Titanic, Psychic and the Sea-which was one of the very early books before the deluge of Titanic material. Don was a real catalyst in inspiring many young people to pursue passenger investigations, His work on Dot was around 1984 I recall because Rustie Brown was visiting and working on her book Maritime Trivia, and a lighthouse opus which I heard was published before her untimely death. She came out to meet Marshall Drew, and I was glad she did as he passed away about a year later.
Jack Eaton also did an issue of Voyage#8 in June of 1991 featuring Titanic in Films with a large segment on Dot, extracts from The Moving Picture World. May 11. 1912 and the four stills of Dot from the Library of Congress collection. The one of Dot looking pale and haggard pointing to the spot on the map where Titanic sank is particularly moving. Eclair's ad in the same issue touts "A film without parallel" and mentions 6 color and gold posters and the Herald's photos. Sure would be great to see all that material- it must exist somewhere. I was sorry to miss Jack's Dot Gibson lecture to the Irish society a couple of years ago- and I think also to BTS two years ago. The fascination will never end I am sure.
 
May 12, 2005
3,109
7
163
Shelley:

You’re right, there were many people interested in Dorothy’s story long before I or Phil Gowan came along. Don, however, told me he found very little, although he was in touch with the family. At any rate Don has since helped me a lot and he is duly credited, as is John Eaton, whom I don’t know, but his article (which you sent me long ago) was very helpful in my research.

As to the six posters mentioned in the Moving Picture World ad, only two are known to exist — they are at the UCLA Library. The actual stills of "Saved From the Titanic," of which only four are known to have been made, don’t exist, although several collectors do proudly own issues of the film magazines in which reproductions appeared. Frank Thompson, who wrote "Lost Films," is loaning me his beautiful copies of the stills. Thompson’s book was actually one of the first to explore Dorothy Gibson and both Stephen Bottomore and Simon Mills did great sleuthing in their books as well.

So, although others laid the groundwork for the search for Dorothy, I stand by my statement that Phil Gowan "found her first" because he is the one who discovered what ultimately happened to her. Everybody thought she lived out a simple, quiet life in Paris, It was Phil who debunked that myth. In fact, there could have been no definitive article — and certainly no book — written about her without the research that he did.

As you know, I’d worked on Dorothy for some time myself and although I’d found much about her professional career, I knew Phil had the "goods" on her later life and didn’t want to horn in on the expose he was writing.

By singling Phil out for recognition, I don’t mean to downplay the work of Don Lynch or John Eaton or anybody else. Like I said they are also credited. But as my book owes much to Phil’s initial work, I just wanted it made clear that I’m giving credit where it’s due.

Randy
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
38
308
Looking forward to the new book, Randy - and thanks to all those researchers who contributed to what we know of her life. Phil G certainly did cast a fascinating new light on this woman. I might not be a Dorothy fan (although perhaps that impression will change once I've put the events in the Titanic's aftermath in the context of the rest of her life), but she was one of the more colourful individuals on board and it is fortunate that Randy and people like Phil and others named in this thread have investigated her life and career, and that Randy has decided to give it a fuller biographical treatment.
 
Dec 8, 2000
1,288
2
223
I freely admit to not being particularly interested in Dorothy Gibson until I read Stephen Bottomore's excellent book on early cinematic Titanica. Now that he's piqued my interest in her, I'd like to know more about what made her tick. All I can say to a full length biography is 'bring it on.' That's excellent news.
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
Member
Dec 3, 2000
8,248
11
308
Niagara Falls, Ontario
I'm looking forward to the book as well, Randy. Other than what's in her bio on here, I don't know much about her, so I'm sure it will be a fascinating read on her life.

The title suits the book perfectly.
 
May 12, 2005
3,109
7
163
Hi, Fiona and Jason!

Thanks for the encouragement. We are working hard to meet our deadline.

Fiona, I also didn’t think there was much to Dorothy Gibson. After her Fascist politics were revealed, it almost derailed my interest in her! But I’m glad I stuck it out because there’s a lot more to her than that phase of her life, a lot more to her even than her Titanic experience.

Some will come away with a new-found respect for Dorothy, others may still not give a whit about her, but I think everybody who reads the book will understand her a little better. She has thus far been presented as an innocent and a near-villain. The truth lies, as usual, somewhere in between. Some of my opinions differ from other writers — and my approach definitely does — but I’ve tried not to make many conclusions. I’ll leave the reader to that.

Jason, I’m glad you like the title. I was squeamish about it at first, but so much has come to light in a few short months that I think it’s about as apropos as you can get.

Randy
 
Aug 12, 2004
6
0
71
Dorothy Gibson is soon to be revealed!

Thank you all for your patience and encouragement throughout the process of getting her complete story told. Randy and I have been amazed at the response of those we know and also contacts by complete strangers excited about the publication of this book. We hope you will not be disappointed. True there have been delays in the production, but our hearts have also been lifted in hopes of reaching the much-anticipated finale of it all.
The wait is over! With about 100 pages teeming with photographs (200 at least!), be prepared for a photo spread like no other. Now that our part of the creative process is over, our printer will work his magic on Ms. Gibson, putting the availability of the book at mid-February.
So much has happened since either Randy or I posted. I admit it has been just over five months for me. I left most of the updates and suspense building to Randy, which he is very good at. As usual, I work best behind the scenes. Coming from behind the curtain, all I can say is that Randy and I have become much wiser people because of this project. This biography of Dorothy's life wouldn't be complete without the help of so many people. Not just friends, but the contributions of complete strangers could not have come at a better time. Randy has correspondence with possibly the last person alive who knew her, an Italian priest now 84 years old who helped her escape Nazi imprisonment and possible death. I too was able to do my part in finding new information. After Randy found out, to our surprise, there is one known film of Dorothy's that has survived, I interviewed the man who discovered it. A man living in California had stumbled upon it and other lost films in an estate sale. Randy and I were then able to purchase a copy, which gave us the opportunity to see THE Dorothy Gibson in motion! Not only did this help the book, but, as true fans of hers, Randy and I were thrilled to witness her style of acting, more natural compared to the dramatic gestures and flaying around of most actresses of the time. As a result, she has become more real to us than ever before, and I believe the book will have the same effect on its readers. Some people love to hate her and hate to love her, but that is the person she is. She always went after what she wanted. Sometimes she was successful, and sometimes not. If she went about it the wrong way, it always caught up with her. That she kept going attests to her strength and bravery.
To find out more about "Finding Dorothy," please contact me or go to titanicbooksite.com. Randy will provide a link soon to that site. Although pre-ordering is not yet available, buyers will soon have the opportunity to purchase the book on Amazon.com. One mistake, though, printed in previous listings is an incorrect price for the book. Listed as $24.99, the actual price is $34.99 for the package, which will include a soft cover book in magazine format, a CD-ROM of select images and two reproduction art prints, suitable for framing.
As mentioned before, a significant percentage of proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the British Titanic Society and the Fort Lee Film Commission.

Thank you,
Jennifer
 
Jun 12, 2004
2,131
2
161
Looks like an interesting book, Randy. I know that you put your whole heart and soul into this, not to mention years of extensive research. I haven't seen it up here in Detroit yet, but I will definitely keep an eye open for it.

Do you have any other books out?


--Mark
 
Dec 8, 2000
1,288
2
223
Oh jolly good. Does the publisher distribute internationally? I'll duck off to get the ISBN and see if I can get a copy ordered in. I can think of a local library or two that may find it of interest also.

Mind you, poor Mike Tennaro could probably recite my credit card details from memory by now. ;)
 
May 12, 2005
3,109
7
163
Hi, Mark & Fiona:

As Jennifer said, unfortunately the book isn't out yet. It will be Feb. 9. Pre-ordering isn’t available right now but hopefully will be soon. The ISBN # is 0—615—12752—5.

My book on Lucile is in the process of review by Texas Tech University as part of its Costume Society of America Series.

Thanks to Inger for posting the covers. The files I had to give her weren’t the best so my apologies. I’ve been asked what the wording is on the front and back covers. It is:

Front:

Finding Dorothy

Edwardian cover girl and silent screen star
DOROTHY GIBSON
survived the sinking of the Titanic,
a disastrous marriage, even the horrors
of a World War II concentration camp,
but the judgment of history
didn’t spare her.

Randy Bryan Bigham
reclaims the story of a life forgotten.

Back:

Though born to a middle class Baptist family in Hoboken, nothing ordinary would do for Dorothy Winifred Gibson (1889-1946).

Achieving national celebrity as a model for top commercial illustrator Harrison Fisher, she parlayed her fame into a career as an actress for the pioneering motion picture studio, Éclair American, becoming a favorite in the emerging star system of pre-Hollywood silent cinema.

Thrust further into the spotlight when she survived the sinking of the Titanic and recreated her experiences in the first-ever film about the disaster, Dorothy longed for a life away from the screen and the press.

But marital bliss, her one real ambition, would elude her.

Dorothy’s scandalous affair with millionaire movie mogul Jules Brulatour, whom she eventually did marry, decimated her reputation and, after a divorce, she moved to Paris to forget the past.

Yet even in retirement, notoriety pursued her. Arrested as a spy during World War II, she escaped from an Italian concentration camp but not from her fate.

Her health ruined, but her resolve in tact, Dorothy died alone, yet "gorgeously happy," in her suite at the Hotel Ritz in Paris. She was only 56.

Drawing on media accounts, archival documents and the assistance of an international team of researchers, Randy Bryan Bigham presents in this book the definitive story of Dorothy Gibson Brulatour’s controversial, courageous, amazing journey.
 
Jan 6, 2005
276
6
113
Iowa, USA
Randy and Jennifer:

I'm really looking forward to this! I knew Dorothy's story in broad outline, but it's going to be great to have the details at last. As is probably clear from my other postings here and from my work, I have a great interest in classic and silent films. So many people like Dorothy have fascinating stories, and those stories are becoming increasingly hard to research. Materials are becoming scattered, and old papers are disintegrating (I recently tracked down a rare newspaper article for a project of mine, finding that just ONE library listed it in its holdings. Sadly, the library staff found that its cheap, high-acid newsprint had turned to dust inside the envelope that had been intended to protect it).

So many young women dreamed of being in the movies in Dorothy's era; at that time, it was one of the few ways that a woman could aspire to a salary and power roughly equivalent to a man's. Obviously, Dorothy was looking for something personally important to her by entering the movies- her entire history points to a tremendous drive to transcend the limits society placed on women in her day.

Hopefully soon, I'll get to read the book, and find out more. Thanks, Randy- I'm looking forward to knowing more about Dorothy at last.
 
Aug 12, 2004
6
0
71
Fiona,
Although Randy recently answered part of your last question, I'd like to let you know if we can't ship internationally through Amazon.com, then we will surely send copies personally to those who wish to buy them. I'll post when they are ready to purchase. Let me know if the libraries you mentioned are interested in a copy, and thanks so much for your enthusiasm and support.

Jennifer
 

Similar threads