Rose's life postsinkingwas it possible


Oct 8, 2005
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Humour me for a moment, if you please. Let's pretend for the sake of debate that Rose was real and not just a fictional character.

Would she have really managed to scrape herself up from someone who had nothing and go on to lead the fantastic life we know she eventually had? I just don't see how a woman in 1912 could have done it. After the sinking, Rose would have been penniless, homeless, and living under a false name (Dawson). As far as we know, she lacked any real skills and to go from a pampered life to that of a pauper wouldn't have been easy. Not to mention her true love had died, she'd survived a horrific disaster, etc...

Surely it would've been really hard for her to find any type of employment? From what little I know of Edwardian history, it seems to me that her only real career options would have been prostitution or begging. And while I'm not trying to put her on a pedestal, she doesn't seem like someone who would sell her self even if that seemed like the only way.

I just completely fail to see how she could have made a success of herself from her "beginnings". Obviously, with movies and fictional characters a bit of of suspension disbelief is always needed, but I thought this might make an interesting discussion.
 

Dave Gittins

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Jim Kalafus

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On the other hand, as David Von Drehle pointed out, excellently, in his recent history of the Triangle Fire, factory work represented the TOP of the heap for unskilled female labor in 1911. A shop girl, particularly in holiday seasons, could expect up to a 14 hour work day with- if she was lucky- a 20 minute meal break. She could expect not to be allowed to sit down when visible to customers, and more often than not would skip the meal break in order to soak her feet. Women in shops were also encouraged NOT to use the bathroom. Given Rose's, shall we say, less than agreeable disposition, she would have lasted perhaps a day, if that, in retail work before being terminated. Although the factory work day was long, it at least offered a chance to sit down and women, interviewed by Stein in HIS Triangle book and also by the "You Must Remember This" project, later recalled that the work atmosphere in the factories in 1911 was not entirely horrendous. But, a woman who went to work in a factory was required to have at least minimal job skills which Rose, from her station in life, would not have possessed and there was a degree of, shall we say, being deferential required for survival that Rose would have found difficult~ the first time she spoke to a superviser as she did Ismay she would have been out on the street and the first time she addressed a female co-worker in such a manner she would have lost teeth or at least received a blackened eye.

I'm working off the cuff- it is early in the day here- but Mr. Von Drehel cited a report, prepared after the Garment Workers Strike, the title of which I cannot recall, about the lot of working women in NYC in 1909-1910 which paints a fairly grim picture of what a working woman who was NOT entering the work force from the upper classes could have expected. Shop work paid low, the hours were atrocious; women shied away from housekeeping and maid work unless no other alternative was available because it was both exhausting and underpaying,and also because more often than not the work environment was unpleasant; laundry work was exhausting underpaying and dangerous. Secretarial work was beginning to open up as an option for literate women, but of course on the job training was not offered so that can be ruled out for Miss Rose. Teaching would have been theoretically possible, but temperamentally not likely, for her. She would have been a DELIGHT as a waitress, particularly after 12 hours on her feet. Film and theatre, as the final sequence in the film implies was Rose's way out, were difficult fields to 'crack' without prior experience.

>Helen Candee wrote a practical book for women seeking careers.

Practical unless, of course, one was adrift in a strange city with no money and no social or professional contacts, as Rose would have been. With no home to go to, how does one keep one's self clean enough to land a job? Likewise, with no set address she was 'sunk.' Potential employers, 1911, were loathe to hire women who might have brought 'scandal' down on them (aka prostitutes~ remember, this is a time frame when an unescorted woman would be asked to leave a restaurant or retire to the Womens Parlor of a hotel, to avoid giving the appeareance of 'soliciting') and Miss Rose had no home address and no one to vouch for her beign 'respectable.' With no money other than what she might have gotten from aid groups (and she wouldn't have gotten any after the first day or so ashore since, as you'll recall, 'Rose' died in the disaster leaving 'formerly Rose' as a non-survivor with no way of proving that she was from the ship) she would have quickly found herself in dire straights, although the thought of her sleeping in the Women's Mission long term DOES amuse.
 

Bob Godfrey

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No opportunities of employment for women other than begging or prostitution? What about the millions who worked in fast-growing cities like London or New York in offices, factories, retail establishments and domestic service. The single women who emigrated 3rd Class to the US weren't attracted by the prospect of a career on the streets. A well-educated and 'refined' young woman like Rose could have walked into any employment agency and been offered a variety of opportunities on the spot. And, in line with Cameron's screenplay, Rose was exactly the kind of attractive, spirited young woman (complete with a basic dance training) who would have interested a showman like Flo Ziegfeld, who had this to say about the prospects for the hundreds of girls who 'got their break' in his chorus lines:

Beauty, of course, is the most important requirement and the paramount asset of the applicant. When I say that, I mean beauty of face, form, charm and manner, personal magnetism, individuality, grace and poise. These are details that must always be settled before the applicant has demonstrated her ability either to sing or dance. It is not easy to pass the test that qualifies a girl for membership in a Ziegfeld production, but I am frank to say that once she has done so, much of the element of doubt is removed so far as the future success of her career before the footlights is concerned.
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Bob Godfrey

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Keep in mind that we're not talking here about the fictional Rose as perceived by many of us (ie obnoxious!) but as envisaged by her creator - ie "quite a dish", and driven by a determination to adapt herself in order to survive and to succeed. And surely among the pawnbrokers and moneylenders of New York there were at least a few who could not resist The Heart of the Ocean as security against a loan (no questions asked). :)
 

Jim Kalafus

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>What about the millions who worked in fast-growing cities like London or New York in offices, factories, retail establishments and domestic service

See above post
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Continuing~ when a woman entered the work force ca 1912, she was expected to live with family or, if on her own, have a 'respectable' address. She was also expected to supply letters of reference, not attesting to her job skills, but to her moral rectitude. Rose did not have letters of introduction from her minister, past teachers, or upstanding members of her home community.

"A well-educated and 'refined' young woman like Rose could have walked into any employment agency and been offered a variety of opportunities on the spot."

Is a bit far off the mark~ Rose could not have obtained a room in hotel for 'decent' working women, given her 'credentials free' state, no less been employed at anything other than menial labor.

>Rose was exactly the kind of attractive, spirited young woman (complete with a basic dance training) who would have interested a showman like Flo Ziegfeld,

"Bob, my friend, we've BOTH seen her dance at that party in steerage and...welll....she has the grace of John Bunny or perhaps if we want to be merciful, Marie Dressler. Her male partner was more graceful than she, but has not put in an appearance since that night. She lacks the elegance of Dolores; does not have the easy grace of Ann Pennington; is not endowed with the girl-next-door-but-not-really quality of Olive Thomas, and is not immediately likeable like Marion Davies. So, why should we use HER when we have thousands of more qualified women who dont need training from whom to draw. Besides, Lucile, our costumer, has this sneaking suspicion that they have met somewhere before.
~ Flo."


Yes, with Lucile Duff-Gordon doing the costumes, fellow Titanic survivor "Rose" would have to have been an idiot to risk being recognised, so that rules out Ziegfeld. But then, Rose...idiot...oh well...
 

Jim Kalafus

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>And surely among the pawnbrokers and moneylenders of New York there were at least a few who could not resist The Heart of the Ocean as security against a loan (no questions asked). :)

Any money lender who would have accepted that as "no questions asked" colateral, would ahve understood that Rose was a prostitute 'fencing' it and, after sending his strong arm men to take the money back (as they did) would have fenced it himself. Another scene I'd have dearly loved to have seen play out onscreen.
 

Bob Godfrey

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"We've BOTH seen her dance at that party in steerage and...welll....she has the grace of John Bunny or perhaps if we want to be merciful, Marie Dressler. Her male partner was more graceful than she."

Agreed, but see my second post above!
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Bob Godfrey

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You underestimate my talents and my cunning, Jim. After taking first prize in a spitting contest in the Bowery, I was able to employ my own strong arm men to recover the bauble from the pawnbroker before he had a chance to call in any muscle. Sure he fancied his chances at fencing, but he was no match for me. I'd mastered both the epee and foil at finishing school, and took him out with an easy lunge.

Got myself kitted out to impress, and straight into the Follies. Recognised? No worries! The guys in the audience never looked at my face, and Madame Lucile had eyes only for the gowns. And don't knock my dancing skills. You're confusing me with that horse-marine who played me (assisted by JC's feet) in the kinema production. The real Rose could shake a leg with the best of 'em. Classy, too. You don't see a fish dive like mine every day.

Rose
 
May 3, 2005
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>>Humour me for a moment, if you please. Let's pretend for the sake of debate that Rose was real and not just a fictional character.<<

I don't think it would be too far-fetched for Rose to have made it in "moving pictures"...consider Clara Bow, Mary Pickford, Mabel Norman, and later Barbara Stanwyck and Shirley Temple...et cetera, et cetera and so forth....And later meeting a young advertising executive from Quaker Oats , Ben Calvert, and moving to Cedar Rapids (if you'll excuse a bit of my own bit of drivel/fiction to add to the fiction....") LOL is permissible by all readers. :)
 
Nov 26, 2005
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If I had been Rose, I would have just sold that stupid diamond. It really didn't have an significance where Jack was concerned. Cal gave the thing to her and she seemed to hate it on sight. Only thing she ever said was that it was "overwhelming" and "dreadfully heavy". She could have sold that and been set for life.
 
May 3, 2005
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Once again...:
>>Humour me for a moment, if you please. Let's pretend for the sake of debate that Rose was real and not just a fictional character.<<

IMO, selling the diamond would have been a sure
"give away" in tracing it back to Rose.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>You underestimate my talents and my cunning, Jim.

My Dear Rose~ I've seen you dance. I think it not possible to underestimate your talent. Let us face it- as an act you are on par with the Cherry Sisters or that Florence Foster Jenkins woman and, to be frank, have a self-righteousness and arrogance about you that test audiences find unappealing.

>Got myself kitted out to impress, and straight into the Follies.

Yes, yes, I know ~ Sy Goldman's All Nite All Girl Follies in Hoboken, which was the only place that would accept a *AHEM* chorine with your level of stage experience, and rumor has it that your *ahem* Renault training played a strong part in your getting THAT gig as well.

> Recognised? No worries! The guys in the audience never looked at my face,

Yes yes, I know....and had the protection money been paid to the Vice Boys you'd still be dancing away. But, don't worry, I'm SURE that the *ahem* mistaken arrest on morals charges wont follow you for the rest of your life, just as it didn't Joan Crawford. Oh wait....bad example. Just as I am sure that those non-Hollywood films you made while broke wont follow you for the rest of your life, just as they didn't Joan Crawford. Oh, wait.... bad example.

> and Madame Lucile had eyes only for the gowns.

Yours were by Madam Lucille with two "l"s whom, as you know, took the "madam" part of her title very seriously and ended up going to "the chair" after an insurance fraud gone awry left one of her *ahem* clients dead. But you DID look fetching in them, particularly the little white number (with Lollipop)you wore "in tribute" to Mary Pickford when you sang "I've Been a Bad Bad Girl Daddy."

>And don't knock my dancing skills.

I'll leave that to the critics. Must run. Anna and Billie are coming to blows, again.

Flo. Z.
 
Nov 26, 2005
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>>IMO, selling the diamond would have been a sure "give away" in tracing it back to Rose.<<

Good point. She could have always sold it under a false name, which seems to have been pretty easy to get away in those days. Plus, even if Cal found out the diamond still existed that doesn't mean he could have tracked her down. She could have gone to Texas, sold the rock, then moved on to reside somewhere else of her choosing. Just another option I thought I'd throw out there. I'm probably missing some facts though, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
happy.gif
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I don't think it would be too far-fetched for Rose to have made it in "moving pictures"...consider Clara Bow, Mary Pickford, Mabel Norman,

Clara was 9 years later. Won a magazine contest, got a part in Down to the Sea in Ships and was then offscreen for some time. A one-in-a-million-shot. Not likely that Rose won a magazine essay contest and got her foot in the door. And by 1924 she was a bit long-in-the-tooth to become a Wampus Baby Star as Clara did, and was slightly too pudgy by the standards of beauty then prevailing to make it on looks alone.

Mabel Normand's bio is so hazy at this point that it is impossible to say with confidence what she did, or how she did it, to get into films. But, she WAS a contemporary of Rose. She was noted for an easy onscreen manner which Rose showed no sign of, at least as we witnessed her. Mabel's career decline after 1917, slide into mental illness, hardcore drug abuse, and her propensity for being around men who got shot under mysterious circumstances suggest a happy script for "Rose: The Hollywood Years" if anyone is brave enough to produce it.

Mary Pickford. Interesting show biz tale, and MILES from the irritating bovine Rose in terms of stage and life experience. Father either died or abandoned the family~ driven stage mother Charlotte Smith, for want of better opportunity, took her children on the road where they learned acting the hard way. By the time she appeared in films, Mary was a known commodity, who had worked with Belasco and who, btw, knew how to act. Perhaps, as Mary and her family did, Rose COULD have hit the road and played dives out in the boondocks for ten years learning how to act~ but by the time it paid off, she'd have been old (by the standards of the day) and better suited to be the woman who said "here's your coffee, Mr. Smith" in office-set scenes, than to be a star. What Mary, who earned every penny she ever had and who fought tooth and nail to a make it in show biz from the age of 5 would have thought of the callow Rose who had every opportunity in the world and was too stupid to take them, can only be imagined.

Let's face it. For every Clara Bow who got lucky, there were hundreds of Virginia Rappes who didn't. And all signs indicate that in reality Rose would have ended up more akin to Virginia than she would have Mary, Mabel or Clara. She wasn't charming like Mabel, lacked "it" as strongly as Clara had "it," and did not have ten years or more of acting under her belt as Miss Pickford did.

Ahh, Virginia...Mack Sennett had to fumigate his studio after she did bit work there, she was STD ridden, had close to double-digit abortions and was so "low," even by Hollywood 1921 standards, that when word of her unfortunate catapult to stardom "broke" everyone's reaction was a disbelieving "He was with HER?" I bring this sordid tale up to inject a note of reality to this talk of Days Of Old and showbiz career opportunity. SHE is what happened more often than not to a beautiful hopeful trying to get by on looks rather than skill~ after some success as a model (Rose did not even have that!)she spiralled downhill as her non-career staggered along, and ended up as stated. Without the 'contacts' to get modeling work as Virginia had, Rose was at a disadvantage even to her! And since there was no mention of *ahem* 'protection' in the Renault scene, it is safe to assume that Rose would have ended up with many of the same fatal in the long term *ahem* health issues as Virginia (sharing, as they did, similar standards) only at an earlier age. No, it isn't very pretty what a town without pity can do.
 
Nov 26, 2005
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Moving pictures would have been a good option. In the deleted scenes she seemed to express some interest in being in front of a camera as an actress. Not a bad suggestion at all.
 
May 3, 2005
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>>Let's face it. For every Clara Bow who got lucky, there were hundreds of Virginia Rappes who didn't. <<

Wellll...........if someone like Monetta Darnell could make it, it should have been a cinch for Rose.... :)
 
May 3, 2005
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>You underestimate my talents and my cunning, Jim.<<

Dear Rose -

OK, but what's the real reason you kept (as Mr. Cameron remarked - "the danged thing" ) all the time.?
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Dear Rose -

>OK, but what's the real reason you kept (as Mr. >Cameron remarked - "the danged thing" ) all the >time.?

Well, as the blues song so aptly put it "Once she could have sold it, now she caint give it away."

Selling something the size of the Hope Diamond would be a bit more complex than selling the pocket watch she lifted from one of her "johns" after he passed out, as she no doubt learned. With no ID for Rose, and no provenance for the jewel, a legit jeweler would not have touched it, and a fence would just have had her killed and taken the money back before she could depart from their meeting place, as many a lady of the evening ca 1912 discovered.

>if someone like Monetta Darnell could make it, it should have been a cinch for Rose.... :)

Well, Linda was certainly better looking than Kate, and considerably more graceful than the lumbering Rose, so the deck was stacked in her favor. Rose, I think, suffered from the same flaws that made Julia Jean Mildred Turner such a non-favorite with the critics while lacking the appealing set of ...assets... on which much of Julia's success was hung. The "inner rot" would have been all too apparent onsceen.

Didn't have to be that way, of course. A more skilled scriptwriter and a more appealing actress could have brought the alleged "inner specialness" out of Rose and presented it in such a way that one COULD imagine her moving on to a better life post disaster. However, the script settled for having Leo say "Rose you are so special" 70 or 80 times over a course of two hours to atone for the fact that, in truth, there was nothing special written into the character~ unless, of course, one has never encounted a smug and rude teenager with an attitude before, in which case she was special indeed. Had he lived, Jack would no doubt have discovered that Rose was the sort of girlfriend who shows up at one's job and picks a fight in front of one's boss, as well as the sort who phones you at 3am on a work night with some stupid "pay attention to me NOW" demand. Had he lived, Rose, in turn, would have learned just how much value men placed on women who had sex on a first date in 1912....but I digress, as I so often do when obsessing over trivia. There was nothing special written into Rose, and Kate (the poor man's Winona Ryder or Helena Bonham Carter, both chilling thoughts in and of themselves) added nothing to the character that wasn't already 'on the page.' Her performance was one dimensional, and the selfish whiner she limned cannot be imagined as being capable of surviving in the real world.

Now, imagine if you will, an ending in which Rose allows her Mother and Cal to see her, but proudly walks off the ship, and away from them, after staring them down. In addition to being one of those corny "moments" actresses would have killed for 50 years ago, it would also have allowed one to "fill in" any number of blanks that would have made Old Rose's life seem possible. She would not have divorced herself from her past, or her name, just Cal and her mother. Imagine, too, that scene, and all of the others in the film's 14 hour running time, played by an actress with more than the four facial expressions (smile, frown, pout, gastric distress) shown by Miss Winslett onscreen. Would have made quite a difference.
 

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