Posted by Jina Bacarr
I adore the movie “Titanic.”
Every time I come across the film when I’m flipping channels, I can’t resist stopping for a few minutes and watching Rose and Jack. No matter where we are in the story, it always grabs me.
But there’s another Titanic film I bet you don’t know about. A film starring…
A survivor of that fateful night in 1912.
Did you know the first movie about the Titanic was released days after the sinking?
Starring real life survivor, Dorothy Gibson, the silent film was called “Saved from the Titanic” and was shot in less than two weeks in black and white with color scenes. Unfortunately, the prints of the film were destroyed in a fire in 1912. No known footage exists. Only a few stills showing Miss Gibson wearing the same dress she wore that night on April 15, 1912 when the ship sank.
Can you imagine wearing the same outfit you wore? Think about it. It would be like going to your high school reunion wearing your old prom dress.
The public loved it. They couldn’t get enough about the Titanic.
According to Moving Picture News, Dorothy was a model and belonged to a stock company before working for the Éclair Company of America (a film production company originally founded in France in 1907). She also worked in vaudeville as a singer/dancer and was a leading lady or “star” in her time, but she is remembered for surviving the Titanic.
Dorothy’s film was the first of many about the Titanic: In Nacht und Eis (Night and Ice) was a German film also made in 1912; more films emerged, some inspired by the sinking: Atlantis, made in 1913 in Denmark and Atlantic in 1929 (based on a play).
Then the ship of dreams made an appearance in 1933 in Noel Coward’s Cavalcade.
However, the first film with “Titanic” in the title wasn’t a British or American production, but a German propaganda film. Titanic premiered in 1943, when its blatant anti-British sentiment had little effect. The special effects, however, are stunning and were later used in various television dramas about the event.
After WWII, Titanic began to fade. By the 1950s, television began to take up the mystique of the ship when the Kraft Television Theatre presented the docudrama “A Night to Remember” starring Claude Rains as the narrator and the Telephone Hour produced a half-hour show about the Unsinkable Molly Brown (both productions used footage from the German film Titanic).
The world of celluloid also discovered Titanic on the big screen. Several films and mini-series have been made in over the past fifty plus years, but I can’t forget Miss Dorothy Gibson, the film star who survived the sinking.
When the actress returned to New York. I was surprised what I found when I searched through the New York newspapers filled with stories about the disaster even before the Carpathia, the rescue ship, reached New York with the survivors aboard.
During those uncertain days when news was slowly filtering in, the newspapers were filled with pictures and stories about Society women, but not one mention of Dorothy Gibson.
Can you imagine the press of today not reporting on a well-known film star aboard the ship?
My, how times have changed.
Tomorrow: another Titanic story!
“Titanic: Where have all the lifeboats gone?”
Check out my Titanic novel, “Titanic Rhapsody,” about a poor Irish girl who becomes a countess aboard the Titanic…
Titanic Rhapsody on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B007TUXNJE
Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.