World History

Which famous people were on board the Titanic?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. There were several well known names of the day on board the ill-fated luxury liner. One of the famous people to die was millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim. Lady Duff-Gordon, a famous clothing designer, was also on board the ship, Gordon, along with her husband, survived the sinking of the luxury liner. The world's richest man, John Jacob Astor IV, was another high-profile name on the Titanic. He shared the fate of Guggenheim, and did not survive the sinking of the ship. In total, 498 passengers survived the sinking of the Titanic.

    To look at their backgrounds today is like glimpsing back in time at Old World wealth and its creation. Guggenheim was an heir to his family's mining business, where he spent most of his time. He got the Guggenheim family into smelting operations that proved to be quite profitable, and in time he got into the business of manufacturing mining machinery. Guggenheim's tragic end is made all the more so because he was originally not even supposed to be on the Titanic. The mining magnate had been scheduled to sail for America from Europe on the Lusitania. But that vessel needed repairs, so Guggenheim decided to make the voyage on the world's greatest new luxury liner [source: Biography].

    Lady Duff-Gordon (maiden name Lucy Christiana Sutherland) had a child at age 18 to her new husband James Stuart Wallace, whom she divorced seven years later. After the divorce, she and her child had almost nothing, but she somehow persevered and was able to open a dressmaking shop. The business took off, and in time she married her business partner Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon. She later wrote that she too had not specifically planned to sail on the Titanic but that pressing business matters forced her into taking the ill-fated liner. She and her husband were rescued in one of the Titanic's too-few lifeboats [source: Encyclopedia Titanica].

    John Jacob Astor IV was the founder of New York's famed Waldorf Astoria hotel, alongside his cousin Waldorf Astor. He managed his family's real estate fortune and even became a developer himself (in addition to the Waldorf Astoria, he also founded the Knickerbocker and St. Regis hotels). He was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel during the Spanish-American war and was just 47 years old when he perished on the Titanic [source: Encyclopedia Titanica].

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