Skip To Content

    18 Facts About The Actual "Titanic" Tragedy That Are Just As Compelling As The Film

    The ship, not the James Cameron movie.

    1. The Titanic’s sinking killed more than half of its passengers.

    20th Century Fox

    The Titanic was carrying 2,224 passengers when it hit the iceberg, and more than 1,500 passengers lost their lives. That's roughly 67% of the ship's total population.

    2. The remains of the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean will most likely disappear by the year 2030.

    Jens Schlueter / Getty Images

    Iron-eating microbes colonized in the shipwreck have been slowly turning the ship's iron into rusticles (similar to icicles), which will eventually dissolve into powder that's carried away by the ocean's currents.

    3. The first movie about the Titanic tragedy was made in 1912, the same year it sank. It was called Saved From the Titanic and actually starred one of its survivors.

    Eclair Film Co.

    After surviving the Titanic tragedy, Dorothy Gibson, a silent film star at the time, planned to create the film with her lover, Jules Brulatour. During shooting, she wore the same outfit she'd worn the night the ship went down, and suffered a mild breakdown in front of the crew because of survivor's guilt.

    4. Germany also made a Titanic film in 1943 during World War II. It was meant to serve as propaganda against American and British capitalism, and blamed the ship's sinking on greed.

    Deutsche Filmvertriebs

    The film was banned in both the US and the UK.

    5. The Titanic’s shipwrecked remains were actually found as the result of a top-secret Cold War military mission in 1985.

    Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

    Robert Ballard, an oceanographer, met with the US Navy in 1984 to request funding for the technology needed to find the RMS Titanic. The Navy was more interested in using the technology to find the sunken USS Thresher and USS Scorpion submarines. Ballard agreed but asked if he could also use the technology to search for the Titanic if there was time left over after the mission. The Navy never expected him to find it, so it agreed. Ballard found it with just 12 days left of the mission.

    6. Only one first-class child didn't survive the sinking.

    20th Century Fox

    Her name was Loraine Allison, and she was only 2 years old when she drowned. Her body was never found, and in 1940 a woman named Helen Kramer claimed to be the long-lost Lorraine. She maintained this until her death in 1992, but DNA analysis later proved she was lying.

    7. There were so many dead bodies in the water that the first ship sent to retrieve them ran out of embalming fluid and could take only 306 back to land.

    20th Century Fox

    The CS Mackay-Bennett set sail to retrieve the bodies out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, where many of the bodies are still buried today.

    8. The co-owner of Macy's department store, Isidor Straus, was a passenger on the Titanic when it sank. He and his wife, Ida, refused to be separated and died together on the ship.

    Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

    They were depicted in a deleted scene in James Cameron's Titanic.

    9. There was a plan proposed in 1986 to raise the Titanic from the ocean by filling it with 180,000 tons of Vaseline.

    20th Century Fox

    Another proposal involved freezing the remains with liquid nitrogen, essentially making them a giant iceberg that would float to the surface.

    10. The Titanic had fewer lifeboats than were required because of outdated safety regulations.

    Hulton Archive / Getty Images

    At the time of the Titanic's construction, the British Board of Trade based lifeboat requirements on how much ships weighed rather than on how many passengers would be aboard. This put the Titanic's requirements at 16 lifeboats, when it really needed 32.

    11. Benjamin Guggenheim, of the wealthy Guggenheim family, was aboard the Titanic when it sank. He died dressed in his finest clothes so he and his staff could "go down like gentlemen."

    Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

    He also allegedly helped women and children climb aboard the lifeboats as the ship was sinking.

    12. The scene in Cameron's Titanic where the band plays on deck while the boat sinks is based on true events. The real-life Titanic band actually played for more than two hours after the ship hit the iceberg, in the midst of chaos and panic as passengers boarded lifeboats.

    20th Century Fox

    They allegedly played upbeat ragtimes and waltzes, which they would normally have played in the first-class lounge.

    13. A first-class passenger, Ann Elizabeth Isham, was already in a lifeboat when she decided to get back on the sinking ship to retrieve her beloved Great Dane. They died together in the water.

    20th Century Fox

    She was found frozen to death, clutching her dog's body in her arms.

    14. On the Titanic submarine expedition in 1985, they found a number of perfectly preserved shoes throughout the ship's remains. The bodies had decomposed and their skeletons had decalcified, leaving only the shoes.

    Michel Boutefeu / Getty Images

    15. None of the Titanic's engineers survived its sinking. All 35 remained on the ship to keep the power on so they could send distress signals and reduce panic among passengers.

    Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

    16. About a month after the Titanic sank, a lifeboat with three corpses inside was found about 300 miles away from the original site.

    General Photographic Agency / Getty Images

    17. A priest aboard the ship when it hit the iceberg refused to board a lifeboat so he could take confessions, help others onto lifeboats, and pray. His body was never recovered.

    20th Century Fox

    He originally boarded the Titanic so he could officiate his brother's wedding in New York.

    18. And finally, in 2017, research emerged that it wasn't just an iceberg that sank the Titanic but also a fire that damaged the ship and was covered up by the company that built it.

    20th Century Fox

    Researchers say the fire burned for nearly three weeks leading up to the collision, and officers on board were allegedly told not to mention the prior damage to any of the passengers aboard the ship.

    Nostalgia Trip

    Take a trip down memory lane that’ll make you feel nostalgia AF

    Newsletter signup form