The Double Life of Benjamin Guggenheim

Steve Smith

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Mar 20, 2011
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Interesting, isn't it? He doesn't seem to have been exactly a pillar of the community on any account - so wouldn't you expect him to be first in the lifeboat rather than "dressing in his best to go down like a gentleman"?
Maybe he had hidden depths - or is the story of the evening dress just a fiction?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Steve, all I can add to this is that Ben Gugganheim had feet of clay, just like the rest of us poor blokes. It really wasn't unusual for the well-to-do to keep a piece of fluff on the side. While hardly the most "honorable" thing to do by any reckoning, it doesn't mean he was entirely a cad either. If you care to explore whether he was a pillar of the community, you might want to take a look at his life and his acheivements as a whole. Sexual piccadillos do not a monster make.
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Brandon Ralph Whited

Guest
Steve,

I have been doing some research into the actions taken by the first class men as the ship sank, including Guggenheim.

I have found no evidence to suggest that he ever attempted to enter a lifeboat at any point during the sinking. According to first class bedroom steward Henry Samuel Etches, he did not even want to put on a life belt; his excuse? "This will hurt!"

After he finally did put on a life belt, it didn't stay on very long. Soon thereafter, he and Victor Giglio changed into evening wear. He was later saw by Etches, and this is when he uttered the now-famous quote:

"I think there is grave doubt that the men will get off. I am willing to remain and play the man's game if there are not enough boats for more than the women and children. I won't die here like a beast. Tell my wife...I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim is a coward."

That is supposedly the actual quote. Notice he says that he will stay and play the "man's game" only if there are not enough boats for more than the women and children. It sounds as though, too me, that he planned to get into a boat after all the women and children were away. Unfortunately for him, things didn't quite work out that way.

I think James Cameron slightly exaggerated the end of Guggenheim and Giglio. He was actually, to the best of my knowledge, last reported to have been on the Boat Deck, where he uttered the above quote to the steward.

On a side note,am I the only one that finds it funny that Giglio did not know what an iceberg was?
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Cheers,
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-B.W.
 
May 12, 2005
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All,

I agree with Michael and Brandon. Guggenheim was a man of his class and time. He must be seen within that context and not through our modern eyes.

Really, though, things haven't changed so much. If we are to believe what the sex therapists say, most married men have affairs; that doesn't mean it's right, but it happens. In this day of comparitive equality, however, women don't sit idly by darning socks while their husbands tryst with floozies. They divorce their husbands - or if they really want to get even, they have affairs of their own.

But in those discreet days women just ignored their husbands' "running around" and worried instead over whether the flowers were delivered on time for their lunch party. They also had more serious matters to attend to - church, charities, their children's education. Mrs. Guggenheim, like other society ladies, was no silly, provincial miss ignorant of the ways of life and therefore she shouldn't be seen as a complete victim.

As to Mme. Aubart (I wonder if she was not really a Mdlle?) being "a bit of fluff," she was most likely that and more - but what a mysterious one. I'm intrigued by her and hope more will come out about her life and "career," if there was one beyond that of courtesan, though such a mode of business could actually be far more interesting to learn about than any singing job she might have had.

Randy
 

Steve Smith

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Mar 20, 2011
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Interesting thoughts! Don't get me wrong - I'm certainly not judging or condemning Guggenheim on moral grounds. My comments were really sparked by some of the earlier posts on this subject - especially those by Mike Heribold which suggest he lived something of the life of the spoilt playboy. That to me makes his final actions even more laudable - and I'm just glad that the story is essentially true, as I've always admired him for facing the situation with such a mix of bravery and flamboyance. I suppose on the widest level I was also comparing his actions, and the those of many male passengers with the way their counterparts (ie us!) would react in that situation today. I suspect then that if we were THEN considering morality and honor, Guggenheim and the rest would certainly have the high ground...
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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Just a question I'll throw out here- could it have been a kind of social status to have a mistress? I mean, being able to juggle the "domestic obligations" and the, hm-hm, "personal" ones, and get away with it, well! Now here's a man to, not exactly respect or loathe, at least be reckoned with!
With regard to Randy's query about whether Mme. was not in fact Mdlle. Aubert, good point. It was not uncommon for an un-married woman of independent endeavors to take on a "protected" status. It was easier that way, to...um, get around ;)!

So there's my fluff!
Kris-
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Hi Randy,
Aubart was unmarried at the time, her family told me that she married shortly after her return to France which would suggest that there was not a husband anywhere on the scene at the time. She appears to have married just twice according to the family, but I can find no trace of her marriage until 1927. I think it more likeley that she co-habited in 1912 and passed it off as a marriage.

Geoff
 
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Brandon Ralph Whited

Guest
On a side note about Guggenheim, he was never supposed to have travelled on the Titanic. He had originally booked first class passage on the Lusitania, but was forced to take the Titanic instead when that ship had to have one of her props repaired.


Cheers,
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-B.W.
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Brandon, I've heard of a number of passengers due to sail on the Lusitania supposedly being transferred to the Titanic. What I can't understand is why? Surely Cunard would not transfer passengers to a rival shipping line - especially White Star, and would not send the would be travellers some 225 miles from Liverpool to Southampton. I had always doubted these stories until I was given a letter written by the Rev. John Harper in which he says "We were due to leave Liverpool on the Lusitania but she has something amiss and we are to take the new ship from Southampton on the tenth".
Anyone able to enlighten me?

Geoff
 
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Brandon Ralph Whited

Guest
Geoff,

I wish I could offer some light on the reason for the transfer, but I'm afraid it makes no more sense to me than it does to you. I had never really thought about it, but after you pointed out in your above post about the fact that they were sending paying passengers to a rival ship, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
May 12, 2005
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All,

Re: Lusitania people transferred to Titanic

The only thing I can think of is that if the coal strike that was on then really was all that bad - and it seems to have been - then Cunard may just have had no other choice if they did not want to upset their passengers. Especially rich ones like Guggenheim who would hardly have been satisfied with a transfer to a third rate ship and that may well have been all that was left at the moment except for Titanic.

Randy
 

Craig Sopin

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hi Geoff-

Perhaps I can. I likewise have a letter from Rev. Harper mentioning the incident but with implications of the coal strike. A port log for Lusitania's previous voyage is unremarkable with no mention of a broken propeller. Cunard transferred Lucy's passengers, including Harper, to its slower replacement steamer Carmania but he (and presumably some others) chose Titanic instead. I hope this helps.

Regards,
Craig