Just Who Was Dorothy Gibson

Mar 15, 2001
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I am just using Dorothys name as an example. Everyone who posts here knows that she was a silent screen star who starred in the lost film "Saved From The Titanic". My point is, its hard to imagine someone in the general public not knowing who this lady was. However, ask someone around you who Dorothy Gibson is and I bet they will not know who she was. That not only goes for her but also Lady Duff Gordon, The Countess of Rothes, Benjamin Guggenheim, John B. Thayer and so many others who have become more than just a name to us. We have studied these people and learned as much as we can about each passenger thats it hard to believe that generally speaking, most people couldn't tell you who these people are and what there link to history is. I have asked several people to name one person who was on the Titanic and some couldn't even name one, not even the most well known in my opinion- Molly Brown and Captain Smith. So I guess my point is, its hard to imagine that most people will never know Miss Dorothy Gibson or Lady Duff Gordon in the same manner that we do.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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It's instructive to look these people up in an ordinary encyclopedia. Some will be found but many are only remembered for their Titanic connection. You'll have to dig quite deep to find Ben Guggenheim, Jacques Futrelle and Frank Millet. As for Gibson, she was a very minor figure in what was then generally an amusement for the lower classes. It's people like us who keep their memory alive.
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi Darren,

Dave is right. Unfortunately many of Titanic's celebs are almost completely forgotten today. And you do have to do a bit of searching to find anything more than a passing reference.

Regarding Lucy Duff Gordon, I have to say that, though she may be unknown to average people, she is still quite well-remembered in the arenas in which she made her mark - fashion and theatre.

Almost every substantial book on the subject of costume, especially, written in the last 20 years, references her. So there's no digging deep to find her. It's just a matter of knowing where to look. She is there for anyone to find. I found her at the age of 13 in my school library, flipping through a costume history book, not a book on Titanic.

Every major international museum regularly acquires and displays Lucile's work. But it's not as "Lady Duff Gordon," you see, that she is known in this genre but as "Lucile." In fact many costume curators and researchers specializing in the decorative arts whom I'm acquainted with, know nothing (and care nothing!) about her Titanic connection. It as an artist that she is studied, not as a personality.

Back to the subject you have brought up - about average people being unaware of most of Titanic's "big name" passengers - I guess we can take consolation in knowing that what the average person knows about history and historical figures is about nil anyway, regardless of which field or area is in question!
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Randy
 
May 12, 2005
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All -

I was contacted privately (and very kindly) today about a concern that I'd like to address here, since others might also have gotten a wrong impression.

I am sorry if it seemed I was taking advantage of this thread to yet again sing Lucile's praises. I was trying to point out (but may have failed to) that since Lucile actually WAS very famous and influential in her day (unlike Dorothy who was only moderately successful), it's much more surprising that she isn't better remembered by average people. Whereas with Dorothy, it's understandable. So I just don't see the two as being equal examples of "forgotten" personalities.

Of those on Titanic who were truly "top tier" figures in society, politics, industry, literature, theatre, art, fashion, sports, etc., you have, as an example, basically these individuals:

William Thomas Stead
John Jacob Astor
Major Archibald Butt
Francis Millet
Henry B. Harris
Jacques Futrelle
Lucy Duff Gordon
Karl Behr

Molly Brown doesn't make the cut, in my view, because she was not internationally known until after Titanic.

Some might add Straus and Guggenheim but I expect they were lesser known internationally than Astor, for instance.

Of the ones I listed, only Stead, Lucile and Millet are still widely known (in their respective spheres) for their work.

I'm sorry if it seems I'm being smug, but I will add that there was just no other woman aboard Titanic who was as famous (in her own right) as "Lucile," however unimportant some may think the profession of fashion designer is.

That doesn't mean there weren't other women as interesting or more so. I think Dorothy Gibson is fascinating. I'm also intrigued by Helen Churchill Candee and her career. I just don't know as much about them but hope to someday. Then I can bombard the message board with more minutiae on them!
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Also some of the most compelling passengers were not celebrities. People like Jack Thayer, Ruth Becker, Annie Funk and Lawrence Beesley (though he is famous now and will be even more so when Pat Cook's book on him hits shelves!),

All my best,
Randy
 
Mar 15, 2001
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Randy, Everything you post about Lady Duff Gordon is very interesting to me. I especially liked a letter you posted that was written by Lady Duff Gordon about color. If this isn't the place to sing praises of Ms. Lucille then I don't know where you would.
A tennis player would probably have heard of Karl Behr or Richard Norris Williams. Someone in fashion would know Lady Duff Gordon. But for the most part, the average person couldn't tell you who these people are. Thats no surprise though, we actually have people who probably couldn't tell you who the first president of the United State was.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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All,

I was once interested by this very same question and looked some of these people up in the general encyclopedias, reference books or in Lucile’s case — the fashion books. I only found a few names and most of them (of the better known people) had one sentence about them and said that they died on Titanic. Most of the people that I did find were from prominent families, and the mention of them as well as being lost on Titanic was among listing various members of the family.

As for Lady DG, I've encountered her in most fashion books and almost none of them remember or mention her Titanic connection. This does emphasize the point that Randy was making. Lucile was someone in her day and was and to some extent still is well known for who she was, not what ship she survived.

Daniel.
 
K

Kelly Beth Vogelsong

Guest
Hey everyone,

I actually just put that to the test right now, as I'm at work. Rather than asking people to name one person involved in the Titanic, I instead asked them if they recognized the names I gave them and what they were famous for. I was not surprised at all by the responses of, "Benjamin GOO-gen-HEIM?," "Major Archibald BUTT? Oh...kay," "John Jacob Astor? Wasn't he...no, I have no clue."

But then I have to remember that it's the same with several poets I love that no one knows. Or some sports in which my friends know every player and stat but I'm left completely lost.

L8r~

KB
 
Mar 15, 2001
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Kelly, Thats the point I was trying to get across. Those names are so familiar to all of us and its hard to imagine that most people just don't recognize these people.
 
K

Kelly Beth Vogelsong

Guest
Darren,

I know...lol...I was just trying to help you prove your point!
 

Tom Melvin

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Apr 13, 2009
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I think its very difficult for alot of people who are not involved with the Memory of Titanic, to recognize names of the passengers on Her. But, I have found when speaking of Titanic, the majority of people at least recognize the name of the Ship and that a movie was made about it. Most of them are speaking about Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet roles in that movie. Here in Colorado, specially in the Denver area, more people are aware of one passenger, Molly Brown.
 
May 3, 2005
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Speaking of Karl Behr and Richard Norris Williams:
Were they professional or amateur tennis players ?

Would there have been any college tennis teams traveling to Europe at the time or was this just another of Jean Negulesco's fictitious inventions ?
Re: Gifford Rogers and the tennis team from Purdue ?
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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WT Stead's name seems to crop up in books every now and again - I've seen him mentioned in biographies of Andrew Carnegie and Queen Victoria.

He clearly made his mark in the fields of journalism and pacifism.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I can't speak for Behr, but Williams was certainly an amateur player. He later competed in the Olympic Games in the days when players were not allowed to win even the smallest sums. Remember Jim Thorpe?

I suspect the traveling team is pure invention. Somebody is welcome to look at the contract ticket list for a group booking.