Top 5 Myths About The Titanic

Written by Michael Wynands Getting to the bottom of it… with the greatest ship that ever sank. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top 5 myths about the Titanic... that simply don’t hold water. In 1997, it received the silver-screen treatment courtesy of James Cameron with his award-winning film “Titanic”. But like so many other high-profile subjects in pop culture, this ill-fated passenger liner has taken on more than its fair share of stowaways in the form of half-truths, exaggerations and flat out lies. Come along, as we finally jettison the deadweight. Special thanks to our users Buffyxenaman Kolka and Ashjbow for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Written by Michael Wynands

Top 5 Myths About The Titanic

Getting to the bottom of it… with the greatest ship that ever sank. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top 5 myths about the Titanic... that simply don’t hold water.

In 1997, it received the silver-screen treatment courtesy of James Cameron with his award-winning film “Titanic”. But like so many other high-profile subjects in pop culture, this ill-fated passenger liner has taken on more than its fair share of stowaways in the form of half-truths, exaggerations and flat out lies. Come along, as we finally jettison the deadweight.

#5: There Was A Mummy On The Titanic

The demise of the Titanic has been inappropriately attributed to a variety of supernatural causes - like the champagne curse. But this particular explanation takes the title of “most absurd”. A journalist aboard the Titanic, William Thomas Stead, is credited with kick-starting this myth, having entertained his dinner companions with the creepy tale of Princess Amen-Ra, a mummy he claimed was a fellow passenger. It’s little surprise then, that when the Titanic sank two days later, survivors would blame the ancient evil allegedly onboard. Sadly, it was just dinner talk - there was no mummy stowed away on the Titanic, but rather, a simple sarcophagus cover.

#4: The Cursed “Hope Diamond” Was On The Ship

If not the champagne or the mummy, how about cursed jewelry? The Hope Diamond is among the most famous in the world - last insured at $250 million. According to legend however, it comes with a much heavier cost - a deadly curse. At the time that the Titanic sunk, it belonged to Mrs Evelyn McLean - who lost her son to a car crash, her daughter to suicide and her husband to insanity. It’s a strong case for the curse of the Hope Diamond, except one little problem… Evelyn McLean was never a passenger on the Titanic. Rose’s Heart of The Ocean was inspired partially by the Hope Diamond and another necklace worn by one Kate Florence Phillips aboard the Titanic - but neither helped sink the ship.

#3: The Soundtrack To Sinking: “Nearer, My God, To Thee”

Talk about setting the mood for a bleak occasion. In the film, the song performed by the band as the ship goes down is the deeply depressing, yet undeniably appropriate hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee”. News articles at the time reported this particular hymn as the final song played by the selfless musicians, but accounts vary greatly. It’s believed that those eyewitnesses who heard “Nearer My God To Thee”, and called it the final song of the night, were those lucky enough to get off the boat early. Other survivors claim that the band later played upbeat ragtime and popular songs of the day to keep spirits up. As the musicians went down with the ship, their exact “last song” will never be known.

#2: J. Bruce Ismay - The True Villain Aboard the Ship

Every story, whether true or fictional, needs a good villain. Joseph Bruce Ismay was the chairman and director of White Star Line, the company who owned and operated the RMS Titanic. And following the accident, as the senior-most surviving member of the company - he became a lightning rod for criticism. He was hated across America and the U.K.. In the film, he is depicted as bullying the captain into unsafe speeds and forcing his way onto lifeboats ahead of women and children. In reality, there is no record of him influencing the Captain, and the official investigation revealed that he helped many women and children get to safety before boarding a lifeboat himself. But hey... an iceberg makes for a rather bland villain.

#1: Everyone Believed It To Be Unsinkable

The truth of the matter is… the maiden voyage of the Titanic was not the momentous, headline-stealing feat that the film made it out to be. At the time of its inaugural trip, very little was being written about the Titanic - it was the largest passenger liner in its time, but its sister ship, the Olympic, had garnered more attention a year earlier. It’s reputation as an unsinkable ship was never much of a thing… that legacy was projected onto it after the fact, because it made for a better headline. A simple tragedy of epic proportions was made that much more grandiose by adding classic storytelling elements of hubris and human arrogance. The reality is, the Titanic’s reputation as the unsinkable ship was invented… after it sunk.
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