Despite happening more than 100 years ago, there’s still a fascination with the sinking of the Titanic.
As it was the largest ship afloat at the time, there was much hype surrounding this vessel. But sadly during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, it collided with an iceberg and sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean. More than 1,500 of the passengers and crew aboard died in the tragedy on April 15, 1912.
The stories of the people onboard captured my heart and I’m alone. It was no surprise that the classic movie “The Titanic” broke box office records and earned a place in pop culture when it was released in 1997.
One of the saddest moments that has stayed with me is the scene of two elderly passengers who decide to give into the icy water and remain on their cabin bed hugging each other. But did you know that the onscreen pair was actually based on a real couple?
Read on to see images of the real-life people behind this heartbreaking Titanic moment and learn their tragic true story.
Anyone who knows the history behind the “Titanic” movie probably knows that most of the main characters are purely fictional.
At the center of the movie’s loves story is Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet. Some think Jack was a real historical figure because it turns out there was a J. Dawson who was a casualty on RMS Titanic.
J. Dawson is buried in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia — but he’s not the one Leonardo DiCaprio’s heartthrob, Jack, was based on.
Unfortunately, the central love story isn’t real, but another relationship in the movie is very much based in reality: the one between the old people who died while clutching each other in bed.
A real-life love story
Watching this devoted couple hold one another while their room fills up with freezing ocean water was one of the saddest moments in the movie. And the heartbreaking moment was based on the real-life Isidor and Ida Straus.
Isidor and Ida were first-class passengers on the Titanic. The 67-year-old businessman and his 63-year-old wife traveled with their servants, John Farthing and Ellen Bird, according to their Encyclopedia Titanica pages.
Isidor was the co-owner of Macy’s department store, and for this reason was famous and extremely wealthy. He also served as congressman for New York State.
The couple, who married in 1871, were among the richest people aboard the Titanic, which they’d boarded to return to New York after a winter in Europe together.
As the story goes, after the Titanic hit an iceberg, and it eventually became clear that the ship would sink, Ida, as both a first-class passenger and a woman, was immediately given a priority spot on a lifeboat.
According to a cable sent to their kids only hours after the ship went down, Ida stepped one foot into the lifeboat, thinking her husband was coming with her.
When she realized he wasn’t getting in the lifeboat with her, she stepped out.
Isidor and an officer reportedly urged Ida to get back into the lifeboat, but she refused. One account recalled hearing Ida say, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.”
“Then, they walked to the opposite end of the ship,” Brett Gladstone, the Strauses’ great-great-grandson said. “They were last seen standing on the deck, clasping each other, calmly waiting.”
Ida’s maid, Ellen Bird, got Ida’s spot in the lifeboat. She gave a similar account of events to the family, confirming that Ida willingly remained behind on the Titanic with her husband.
“Ida handed the fur she was wearing to her maid and said, ‘Get in the lifeboat,’” Brett added.
“She said, ‘You’re going to need this more than I will.’ I heard that the maid eventually gave the coat back to the family. Someone may still have it.”
While the couple didn’t meet their end in their cabin, they did stay with each other until the end.
Isidor’s body was later recovered, and he was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. Ida’s body was never found, but she was given a memorial on her husband’s grave.
This beautiful love story lives on thanks to these tributes and their memorial. Please share this true story of love and devotion with your friends and family.
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