Edith Russell had two cabins!


Apr 26, 2005
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I have been reading from two sources (I'm not sure if I can trust them, though) that Miss Edith Russell had a second cabin only for the dresses she was bringing in New York, in the vicinity of her own stateroom, A11. The first of my sources is Charles Pellegrino's book, and the second is a French article, obviously based on the facts written in Mr. Pellegrino's book. My question would be: “Did Miss Russell really had another cabin in which she stored her clothes?”￾ Does anyone know if it was indeed the case, and would be able to show an indisputable source to corroborate his assumptions? (i.e. an unpublished account Russell might have written)

Thank you.

Charles Provost
 
May 12, 2005
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Hello, Charles,

I am not familiar with the other sources you mention but I do have in my possession a rather detailed article Edith Russell penned for the Ladies Home Companion. I am going to be sending a copy of this piece to Phil Hind to use for ET. It contains 2 photos of Edith - one from about 1912, the other as she appeared around the time the article was published (1964). Though in small format, the article is ten pages in length.

To address your specific questions as to Edith's luggage,there are certainly indications that she had a very great deal of it - over and above what she would have been carrying for herself. She seems to have been unusually worried over it as well. There is no definite reference to her having an entire stateroom given over to her luggage but I will quote for you a few lines here and there from her narrative, from which you may deduce that the story of a separate cabin is not far-fetched:

"...I was a fashion writer, buyer, and stylist. This trip was one of the first of my career, as I had just started in business, and I was taking with me not only my own wardrobe but many orders executed for business firms and private clients. They were uninsured as when I applied for insurance on this merchandise, I was told that it was ridiculous to spend money for insurance when travelling on an unsinkable vessel..."

On boarding the Titanic from the tender at Cherbourg, Russell became fearful and informed White Star Paris bureau manager Nicholas Martin that she wanted to go back:

"...Mr. Martin said he would gladly release me from the sailing, if I felt that way, but he could not get my luggage off. "You are just nervous. You are perfectly safe..."

She obviously had much more than a few suitcases if they couldn't remove her luggage.

Later on, after the iceberg had been struck and she was waiting in the lounge, trying to decide to get on a lifeboat or not, she says she saw her steward Wareham and asked:

"...Wareham, what about my dresses and things? Do you think they will transfer my luggage?"

His reply: "If I were you, I think I would kiss them good-bye."

It was then that she begged him to go and fetch her lucky "mascot," that now famous toy pig.

As I say, there's not anything in this article to prove she was keeping things in another cabin but it would stand to reason that she could have been doing so if there was an empty one nearby. She surely had a lot of stuff with her.

By the way, though this may be known already, Edith Rosenbaum was the name she went by at the time she was on Titanic. Her articles for Women's Wear" (today "Women's Wear Daily") were always signed "EDITH L. ROSENBAUM." She took on the name "Russell" only in later years.

During my research on "Lucile," I have come across many "Women's Wear" fashion show reviews and other interviews with various rag-trade personalities by Rosenbaum so she is of special interest to me. I hope to find out more on her, as I feel she is deserving of more serious attention than she has been given in the past.

Hope this helps.

All my best,

Randy
 
Apr 26, 2005
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Hello Randy, thank you for your message. I, too, have this account Miss Russell published in the “Ladies Home Companion”￾, but my copy is 5 pages and undoubtedly complete. Perhaps the letters are only bigger on my copy. Anyway, the points you made evident from the account are quite interesting, and certainly show us that there is nothing against the theory of a second cabin, but also nothing that can really prove it.

You are right in saying that she was still “Miss Rosenbaum”￾ at the time she went on the Titanic. It's good you made it clear on the board, for I know many people are only referring to her as Edith Russell, which was only her pseudonym in later years, as you said.

Thanks again Randy for your input in the discussion. I'm still hoping someone will be able to feature us an irrefutable account/article/interview, that might prove Edith had an additional stateroom.

Most sincerely,

Charles
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Well from reading Edith's accounts she did confuse some facts. I don't believe she had an extra stateroom. She certainly didn't pay for one. Unless Bruce ismay let her do so after they sailed. As noted in Gellar's book there was some evidence that they were more than cordial friends.
But she did say something that is curious about a french bulldog being in a near by cabin. So did Robert Daniel have a cabin on A deck and did he have Gamin de Pycombe with him on the last night. It seems concessions were made about animals being in the staterooms.
 
May 12, 2005
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Michael,

May I inquire as to what is intended by the comment that Bruce Ismay and Edith Russell "were more than cordial friends." Surely you do not infer that they were intimate? I have never heard this before nor do I recall that being hinted at in Geller's book - I will have to re-read her entry. I would certainly like to know what "evidence" exists of such a liason if indeed this is what you meant.

All my best,

Randy
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Randy:
I did not quote Gellar verbatim , but on page 75 she does say there were rumors that Edith changed her plans to specifically sail with J Bruce Ismay. Also a few historians did email me that they found some evidence ( not yet released ) that they were more than passing acquaintances. Possibly not to the degree of lovers, but defintely more than social acquaintances. So make of my comment what you will.
Mike
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Dear Mike,

One of the reports about Edith Russell's friendship with J. Bruce Ismay comes from William MacQuitty, the producer of ANTR, who was a friend of Edith's during her later years.

Bill told us in 1996 that Edith related that she and Ismay "were more than just friends." I do not think this can be proven at present. Bill was merely relating what Edith told him, and stated that Edith kept the secret hidden from many people. Who knows if she was exaggerating, or even fabricating the story, but there it is.

I am glad to see that Shelley has joined the ET message board. We all have to get together for a good fireside chat soon! I love New England in the Fall.

Mike
 
May 12, 2005
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To Michael Poirier - My "excuse me" was for my asking a question that would elicit so hasty a remark as "make of my comment what you will." If I had been rude I'd understand but I was only asking because it's a pretty wild remark.

To Michael Findlay - I suspected it was based on something like that. We'll probably never get to the bottom of it in that case.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Randy:
I wouldn't call my remark hasty. It is just another way of saying draw your own conclusions. I never stated outright they were lovers. But you certainly jumped to it. I just said there was more to it than the two of them being more than acquaintances. What their relationship was is certainly a gray area, but as Mike Findlay says it is one of a few reports. There is so much coming out about passengers now it is amazing.
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Re: there is so much coming out about passengers: just wait till you hear about Pauline Gibson's later years! If we thought Edith Russell was a nasty old woman, her behavior in later years was angelic compared to Dorothy's mom. Can you say eeeeevil???? Stay tuned.

Phillip
 
May 12, 2005
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Michael,

No hard feelings - but I think YOU must have "jumped" to the thought that I was challenging you or something when I asked for more info. I didn't mean to sound smart-ass (not at first at least). I was only being curious and a little surprised. I never doubted you were basing your statement on some source. I just think it's intriguing as I've never imagined Edith Russell as charming enough to have had much of a love-life. I hope she did, for her sake, poor old dear! But Bruce Ismay? How odd is that? "Who would-a-thunk-it?"

Randy
 
May 12, 2005
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And Phillip,

You're teasing us all too much!!! What great stuff you've got! Can't wait to talk more!

And just to throw a little teaser of my own out there, there's a lot of personal info I have on dear "Lady Duff" that will cause a few popped-out eyes. The old girl definitely just wanted to have fun!

Randy
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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I think Edith in her early days probably was charming and engaging. A bit of a people collector. She certainly wasn't homely if you have seen pictures of her in her early days.But as time marched on I think she turned into a gnarly old spinster. A number of survivors who remember her, did so with fondness. I don't think it was totally inconceivable for to be having an affair. There is one wealthy globe trotting married passenger who was having an affair with a Newport society lady ( who was not on the Titanic ). The woman was also married. And this man was so dry I found it very hard for him to be having an affair. But the evidence is there and is currently being published in a book. So no Randy, no hard feelings. But I wouldn't exactly call it a wild rumor either. As Mike said it is based on a few reports. Not just MacQuitty.
BTW Philip: Could it be that Pauline Gibson was the natural mother of Joan Crawford and beat her with wire coat hangers??????
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Michael,
No, she was the natural mother of Marty Feldman and pulled him around by the nose until his eyes bulged. (Just kidding).

PG
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Philip:
Doesn't surprise me. I used to look at Feldman and say, " God he looks like so much like Dot Gibson ". Finally the truth comes out. I can only imagine what kind of bridge partner she was on the last night. And she must have been a pip in the lifeboat. All kidding aside, did you find a picture to go along with the story?
Mike
PS I guess your off to find yourself a case of beer ( or is that Cassebeer )?
 
May 12, 2005
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I guess I agree that Edith Rosenbaum must have been something of a charmer because to have worked in the fashion world she would have had to be to some extent. She certainly knew everyone who was anyone. Unfortunately I've only seen one picture of her from c. 1912 & that's the one from the Ladies Home Companion piece. She seems pretty enough and certainly she is chic. I've been digging a bit in my spare time into Women's Wear Daily back issues and am coming across loads of stuff but so far no pictures. It would appear she was investigated for and even went to court over the charge that she was smuggling in Paris gowns - this being 1917. Charmer or not she seems to have also drawn more than a little scandal her way. Definitely an amusing person. Sad that she became such a wretch in her last years.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Good one Randy! That is quite the tidbit. Poor thing was always near trouble whether she wanted it or not.
 

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