Titanic Survivor: Actress Dorothy Gibson
Miss Dorothy Gibson - a Survivor of the Titanic Wreck. The Moving Picture News (27 April 1912), p. 7. GGA Image ID # 100f23f403
Readers of the Moving Picture News will be glad, no doubt, to hear Miss Dorothy Gibson's story of the terrible Titanic disaster as she saw it, and felt it, and lived it.
Miss Gibson, the 22-year-old silent film star, who is the leading lady of the Eclair Moving Picture Company of America, was returning with her mother from a trip to Europe, feeling, in her own words, “like a new woman,” and had taken passage aboard the great new steamship, the Titanic. The following is Miss Gibson's story as she tells it:
“I was seated on one of the upper decks with several others playing bridge whist. The steward had come to us time after time telling us that it was past time for lights to go out, but we had begged insistently to be allowed to play just one more rubber.
At twenty minutes of twelve, we felt the card table, and I was just at the foot of one of the magnificent staircases on my way to my stateroom when I heard that peculiar crunching sound which proved later to be the iceberg ripping open the side of the ship.
My companion and I merely noted the occurrence in a passing manner, supposing that perhaps a propeller had broken, or something of that sort, for we knew that there were icebergs around us. In fact, it was impossible not to know, for they were all about.
And so, we continued on our way, the gentleman, who was with me suggesting a certain course around the deck which would bring me closest to my stateroom.
“As we turned to come toward the stern of the ship, we found ourselves, to our great surprise, walking uphill. We both remarked that it did not look right to us and felt that something must be wrong.
Inside we found the steward, who assured us that nothing was the matter. “Why,” said he in most confident tones, ‘you couldn’t sink this ship if you wanted to—and supposing you could, she couldn’t sink under ten hours, anyway.”
“Leaning over the deck rail, I exclaimed that there was water on the deck below, at which he assured me that the bulkheads had all been shut off and that it was not anything serious. Just at that moment, the designer came rushing up the stairs, his face perfectly livid.
Not until this moment was I certain that there was really anything serious the matter. I stood in front of him as he came along and asked him what the trouble was, but he pushed me aside and tried to continue on his way. I stepped again in front of him, asking the same question.
Still, without receiving any reply—his face was enough, however, to make me feel real concern—and so I went immediately below and brought my mother to the deck where we were.
She put on her coat suit, and we each took a steamer rug with us. I had only a sweater on over my evening dress. When I went to my stateroom, I had light satin slippers on, and when I came up, I had on these black pumps that you see on me now, but I do not know when or how I got them on. I had a pair of gloves and mother had none.
“The passengers becoming alarmed, came one by one from their staterooms, and I shall never forget when, as we stood together there, with only three lights burning in the immense room where we were, there came to us the cry of “All passengers to the life-preservers!”
Everyone went quietly without a sign of panic and did what they were told. Mr. Bruce Ismay fastened the life preserver on me. My mother was the first woman in the second boat launched, and I followed.
There were only twenty-six in our boat. The reason for this was that most of the people, up to this time, felt safer on the big boat than down on the open sea in a small one.
“After our boat had been let down, we found that the plug had not been put in, and then when it was put in it did not fit, and someone had to sit on it all the time to keep it down. We looked about for a lantern, but there was none.
Then we hunted for matches, and not a soul could find any. I happened to put my hand in my sweater pocket and found that, by some means of which I have no knowledge, a box of matches had been placed there.
I may have picked them off the card table. We had neither water nor food. One man, supposed to be a French baron, gathered all the blankets to himself. This same man, when aboard the Carpathia, appropriated no less than forty-five blankets to make himself a soft bed.
“We were about a mile from the Titanic when she sank, but I will never forget the terrible cry that rang out from people who were thrown in the sea and others who were afraid for their loved ones.
No one knows just how anxiously we watched for some sign of a boat. Repeatedly, some eager passenger of a lifeboat would shout that there was a ship approaching, and we would all spring up to find that the light he had seen was only the twinkling of a distant star.
“At four o'clock in the morning, when we had ceased to take notice of the calls that a ship was near, the Carpathia really came. She could not come to us, however; we had to row around the icebergs to get to her.
I was so tired that I slept twenty-six hours after getting on board the Carpathia. Everyone was so perfectly splendid to us. The women aboard all came and offered us their berths, and clothes, and in fact, anything that they had of which we could make use.”
Miss Gibson, although she assured me that it would take more than a shipwreck to knock her out, at the same time has the appearance of one whose nerves had been greatly shocked. She will, however, start work again, with the Eclair Company almost immediately.
Miss Gibson speaks in the highest terms of our brave American men who took so heroic a part in one of the most terrible tragedies the sea has ever seen.
The scene is from “The Easter Bonnet,” an Eclair comedy released April 25. The Moving Picture News (20 Apriil 1912) p. 43. GGA Image ID # 100f271c70
In this photo, the girl trying on the bonnet is Miss Dorothy Gibson, the famous “Harrison Fisher” girl, who has been the star of the Eclair Company. She was one of the survivors of the terrible Titanic disaster, just returning from a two months' trip abroad for her health.
Saved From the Titanic
Miss Dorothy Gibson Points to the Location Where the Titanic Sunk. The Movie Picture News (4 May 1912) p. 27. GGA Image ID # 100f49bdd7
It was a unique chance that led Miss Dorothy Gibson, of the Eclair Film Company, to take passage on the Titanic, when she had already been booked on the Hamburg-American line.
As told in these columns last week, she had a wonderful escape from the dread disaster; and so impressed were the Eclair producers with her story that they decided to bring out a drama entitled “Saved From the Titanic,” from Miss Gibson's own account, with that handsome young cinematic star playing the leading role.
"Dorothy Gibson Tells Her Story of the Titanic Wreck to Our Roving Commissioner, " in The Moving Picture News: America's Leading Cinematograph Weekly, New York: Cinematograph Publishing Company, Vol. V, No. 17, Saturday, 27 April 1912, p. 7
"Miss Dorothy Gibson: A Survivor of the Titanic Wreck," in The Moving Picture News: America's Leading Cinematograph Weekly, New York: Cinematograph Publishing Company, Vol. V, No. 16, Saturday, 20 April 1912, p. 43.
Excerpt from Eclair, "Saved From the Titanic," n The Moving Picture News: America's Leading Cinematograph Weekly, New York: Cinematograph Publishing Company, Vol. V, No. 18, Saturday, 4 May 1912, p. 27