The last survivor of the Titanic

Squeezed May 14, 2009

Remember Titanic? Of course. Who can forget the largest grossing film of all time? $1.8 billion, unadjusted for inflation. Those who remember the plot of the film (around the historical backdrop) remember that the film deals with a fictional survivor of the April 14, 1912 sinking of the mighty ship.

What I didn’t know is that now there is only one such living survivor in real life, 97-year-old Millvina Dean of England, who was two months old at the time the ship sank, and is now in declining health.

As it happened, Irish author Don Mullan photographed Dean a few weeks ago for an exhibition, and at the time, offered to sell photos autographed by Dean with all proceeds to pay for her nursing home bills. In so doing, he challenged stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and director James Cameron, to match his donation, saying:

If we cannot take care of this gracious and very special lady, now in her 98th year, then all our concern about the Titanic is but a sham. Millvina Dean must be allowed to live out the remainder of her days without any worry or concern about meeting the costs of her welfare.

There are people including director James Cameron and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and Canadian singer Celine Dion who have made enormous profits from the Titanic story and I believe they can and, morally, should help.

On Monday, the two stars and their director responded by donating a combined $30,000 toward Dean’s medical expenses…in essence, giving back a small portion to the last bearer of the ship’s historic legacy.

2,222 of the people who were on the Titanic on April 14, 1912 have passed on…1,517 that day, and 705 others over the 97 years following. Only one is now left. I think it’s a class act by DiCaprio, Winslet, and Cameron to make sure Millvina Dean’s final years are ones to remember.

UPDATE 6/1/09: And she’s gone. No word on what will happen to the money pledged.

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