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Titanic Facts vs. Titanic Fiction

Titanic Cast


Many characters in the Titanic movie were based on real characters and depicted as such. Some of the passengers on the Titanic were incredibly famous figures in history and included some of the major players in the construction of the vessel. Here is a quick comparison between the characters as they were portrayed in the film and the real versions. Here is a list of facts about the Titanic as and how they differ from the blockbuster film.

Captain Edward J. Smith


Captain Edward Smith

Click edit above to add content to this empty capsule.

In the movie:

Bernard Hil

In real life:

Captain Edward John Smith

Captain of the Titanic, Edward John Smith was in charge of its course and maneuvers during the night of April 14, 1912. Some believe that he could have taken measures to avoid the collision with the iceberg by maintaining lower speeds throughout the north Atlantic.

Margaret "Molly" Brown


In the movie:

Kathy Bates

In real life:

Margaret "Molly" Brown

Also known as Unsinkable Molly, she was a philanthropist, socialite, and activist aboard the RMS Titanic during its sinking. Known for bringing lifeboat 6 back to rescue other survivors.

John Jacob Astor


In the movie:

Eric Braeden

In real life:

John Jacob Astor

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The first multi-millionaire in the United States and responsible for the first trust within the country. Making his fortune off of fur trading, opium, and real estate. When he died it was estimated that he was worth over $20 million which equates to $110 billion in 2006 dollars making him the 4th richest man in American history.

Thomas Andrews


In the movie:

Victor Garber

In real life:

Thomas Andrews

Builder of the Titanic he was an was an Irish-born businessman and shipbuilder; managing director and head of the draughting department for the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland.

Bruce Ismay


In the movie:

Jonathan Hyde

In real life:

Bruce Ismay

English businessman and director of the White Star line. One of the survivors of the Titanic, many remember him as a coward who saved himself from the sinking ship, while others believe that he was a scapegoat for the disaster with many influential enemies.

Were Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater Real?


The characters in the Titanic film played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett were not based on real characters and the love story itself was created for dramatic effect. A few other characters associated with Jack and Rose were also fictional including Rose's fiancé Caledon 'Cal' Hockley, his valet Spicer Lovejoy, Rose's mom, and Jack's friends Tommy and Fabrizio. Some of the third class passengers who played small roles in the film were modeled after real passengers on the Titanic. There was a J. Dawson aboard the Titanic during the night of April 14, 1912, but his real name was actually Joseph Dawson. He was a member of the Titanic crew and his job was to even out the piles of coal that were to be shoveled into the Titanic's furnaces.

J. Dawson is buried at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ship's manifest also lists a Thomas Ryan (same name as Jack Dawson's friend) who worked as a steward in third class. His body was never recovered, and if it had been, it remained unidentified.

Were the Titanic Wreck Pictures Real?


Most of the pictures in the movie concerned the Titanic wreck were in fact real footage of the fallen vessel. Director James Cameron hired a Russian vessel and two of its submersibles for close of footage of the Titanic shipwreck. The dive lasted fifteen hours and pictures were taken using a special camera at 1,500 feet. Due to the great preparation and plenty of footage of the Titanic's watery grave, few of the underwater shots had to be fudged, and most were 100% genuine.

Did the Titanic Band Reall Keep Playing?


33-year-old Wallace Henry Hartley was a violinist and the leader of the Titanic band. As soon as the impact from the iceberg landed, Hartley assembled the eight-piece band who ended up on the boat deck near the entrance to the grand staircase. They began playing ragtime waltzes including "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "In the Shadows". Nobody knows for sure what the last song played was, but newspapers reported it was "Nearer, My God, To Thee", and survivors say it was "Song d'Automne". All of the band members died in the sinking of the Titanic

Did the Real Isador and Ida Strauss Choose to Go Down With the Ship?


Nearing the end of the Titanic film, there is an old couple embracing in bed as the ship is in the latter stages of sinking into the Atlantic. This is based on the real characters Ida and Isador Strauss, who was the co-owner of Macy's department store. Both were offered a place on the lifeboat but Isador refused to go as long as there were still women aboard. His faithful wife refused to leave his side. The couple wasn't actually in bed when the ship went down, but rather on a pair of deck chairs.

Is the Heart of the Ocean Real?


The Heart of the Ocean in the Titanic film is based on the Hope Diamond and added it to the plot in order to give Bill Paxton a reason to hear Rose's story. The actual diamond which is currently in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in D.C. and has nothing to do with the history of the Titanic. Many Heart of the Ocean necklaces have been created to emulate the piece of jewelry from the film.


Gia on November 15, 2017:

I love this site it helped me a lot and get facts about the Titanic.

RedMaine on August 03, 2017:

If Rose, Cal Hockly and his henchmen were real, they would have gone just under the radar screen. Rose's mother viewed her daughter's marriage into the wealthy Hockly Family as a salvation for her OWN family because their husband and father ( his name was not important ) had gambled all of their family's money away. This is mentioned in the movie. What's more, it was actually Rose's MOTHER who admired Cal Hockly, not Rose. Rose was basically a mail-order bride. Not surprisingly, Cal Hockly "looked down" upon her and regarded her and her "silly" mother as being inferior. There were probably hundreds of wealthy "unknowns" like that even in the 1st and 2nd class sections of the Titanic. Caledon Hocky ( supposedly the head of his father's Steel empire - the Hockly family's steel factories probably produced all the steel products for Britain AND the U.S. ), and wealthy people "like" him were filthy rich enough to afford first or second class tickets to board the Titanic, but they were not the most "notable" people on the ship. Perhaps Cal Hockly was fairly wealthy, but was far from being anywhere NEAR the wealthiest person on the ship. Perhaps his steel company made millions of door hinges, striker plates, drain grates, and mediocre stuff like that. Or perhaps he provided high quality stainless steel ( for a reasonable price ) to the hundreds of companies that DID produce those things. That, alone, would have netted the Hockly family considerable wealth. But the Titanic's wealthiest passengers consisted of some of the wealthiest people in the entire world!!! Caledon Hockly would have been too poor to drive THOSE people's limousines!!! If you could have afforded a THIRD CLASS ticket to board the Titanic, you had to have had considerable wealth!!! Fourth class was the ship captain, the cooks, the waiters and the matredees. Fifth class consisted of the janitors, the maintenance crew, and the coal shovelers ( people like Jack Dawson ) who's job was to heat and fuel the steam engines. Everybody on that ship was painfully aware of the Greek style "caste system" that existed there. Cal Hockly would have been at the highest level of second class. Rose ( Cal's mail-order bride )and her greedy mother, were Hockly's "guests." Remember, they would have never been able to afford to be on that ship at all.

Tina on January 23, 2016:

It was sooooooo amazing history that i ever heard and Super nice article and i love the chemistry of kate winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio But, Where is the portrait?? Alright but truely it was a nice, amazing, Interesting Article at all and i love rose bukater and jack dawson And for me it is the best history and the classical history that is so wonderful story

HK from London on October 08, 2014:

Very useful and interesting article. A classic film where reality and fiction met...

Dr Pradip Hira from Ahmedabad-India on August 05, 2014:

I first read about the love couple and than read other part of your hub, i am aware that they change some points to make film interesting but not know that there are this much changes in the film.

Btw friend there is a (Click edit above to add content to this empty capsule. ) just below Captain Edward Smith image may be by mistake.

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on July 09, 2014:

Interesting article. I've always been a bit of a Titanic buff.

linda bates on June 08, 2014:

Happened the titanic ships please tell me about it thank you

About necklace biggest fans favorites movies

Danny on April 23, 2014:

I love the movie even though a lot of parts weren't the true story. Great movie and love story.

Vinnie on January 17, 2014:

I loved James Cameron's Titanic. I could watch it over and over, it was beautiful .

Amehia Richard on November 08, 2013:

I watched and watched and watched again!! How would you feel to see death coming to you face to face? After watching, I said so where was God to have prevented this from happening? But this story is so real and I'll like everyone to embrace it whether the characters are true or fiction.... And also, felt sad when Jack died leaving behind Rose, he shouldn't have died cos he sacrificed for true love...... The movie is so interesting but Rose doesn't belongs to Jack although it was true love, that was why Jack died after saving Rose but all the same, they played a big and a fantasy role....If this movie is not at your best. Then you lack some sort of appreciations, MAY THEIR SOULS REST IN PERFECT PEACE.... AMEN!! From Ghana...... On Facebook, Amehia Richard...

Zinni on May 11, 2013:

I read the whole article and some comments lol. The article was great! I saw the movie again in 3D, it was a wasteof money...Oh Cal isn't real, that blows but that sucks that all those ppl died. I loved you work it must have taken you all lot of time and research, so good job and thanks?...

Solomon on March 17, 2013:

This is a very nice movie and a touching also I love it but jack never deserved to die it really hurts

shivangini ranjan on December 25, 2012:

i watch this movie at least 50 times and i never get bored coz i like this movie very much

sim on December 09, 2012:

i can not believe i read the whole thing. it was good

jade on August 12, 2012:

kate is so cute with leonardo

Aussie on July 06, 2012:

Great work,you must have spent hours upon hours researching this. @ladybug-you can get these stats on a site named If you search 'Titanic-demographics of the passengers' you should b able to find it,really is interesting,its in categories such as 1st,2nd,3rd classes,women,men and children. And for those sick people who are saying it was just a ship, you obviously have noy had to deal with the loss og a loved one,and I pity your soul for when the day comes when you have to look death in the face you will realize that it really was a tragic day in history,one that effected so many thousands of family members,friends,co-workers and associates of the passengers. To the people out there who do still have a soul, enjoy life to the most because stories like this should make us appreciate the great lives we get to live,I know I hug my kids that little bit tighter after hearing of such tragedies...

Ladybug on July 01, 2012:

Loved the movie and can appreciate the "ficticious" love story, but what I want to know is what percentage of the people who were saved poor people? Sends to me that if you were not in first class you didn't make it on a boat. So sad.

Isabel on June 05, 2012:

I really love Titanic, it is awesome! I think out of all movies thus is my favorite of them all! No Sci-Fi of somesort! One day I hope to see the titanic in real life :)

Mary K on June 04, 2012:

Very informative.I know most of the movies are fictional but its always good to know the real story.

tushar chavan on June 03, 2012:

very nice, useful and informative

thanks to creative orange

a comment by Heather is heart touching.

maison on May 24, 2012:


Carrie S. on May 24, 2012:

Historical drama, when well done like this, is a great tool for bringing history to life and making it interesting when we don't know the details of what really happened. Thanks for the article.

I think Cameron did a great job of casting excellent actors that resemble the photos for several roles, like Molly Brown (she looked a LOT more like Kathy Bates than Debbie Reynolds) and Thomas Andrews.

I have always been fascinated by the Titanic, ever since I saw "A Night to Remember" and "Titanic" when I was young.

Eddie on May 23, 2012:

Boring I just remembered how sad. (:-

Muhammad Suleman on May 16, 2012:

Perfect.thnx for the information...I am actually very curious to know about Titanic that sank...What was real?why did it sink?I "ll accumulate all it's history and "ll actually go to see it's wreck down in the ocean,inshaAllah...for this film has really made me it's fan... (FRM PAKISTAN)

alyssa on May 03, 2012:

i love it thee titanic is so cool i just love it:)

Eddie on April 17, 2012:

The definitive Titanic movie is "A Night To Remember". Actual survivors worked on that film to ensure accuracy was met. The special effects may not be as good as James Cameron's 1997 film, but it is a better film all round. Please see it if you can.

Carina on April 16, 2012:

In a documentary , they say that Joseph Dawson was madly in love with a third class women...

Dids on April 16, 2012:

The lady playing the grand daughter of Rose met James Cameron on the set, and are now married.

carrie on April 15, 2012:

well it might have bored the general public if you made the movie a documentary. I or one like to see and read the truth. Don't forget these were real people.

SachaLautner on April 14, 2012:

It is exactly 100 years since the ship went down in about twenty minutes.

Light a candle for the victims.

Emily waggoner on April 14, 2012:

I am a huge fan of the Titanic... But I feel really bad for everything that would of happened tonight.

Joanne on April 14, 2012:

It said they were newlyweds were on the ship, the bride survived the husband didn't he went down with the ship maybe it was based on that fact.

GDFHNDF on April 11, 2012:


Titanic lover on April 10, 2012:

Very nice info

katie on April 10, 2012:

I can't believe that some people thought jack and rose were real .. everyone knows they're fictional .. whoever wrote that comment hasn't a clue

emma on April 09, 2012:

#heather you have a better way with words than me. that was the point i was trying to get across aha

Patrick1966 on April 07, 2012:

Just saw it in 3D. Awesome! The wife and I enjoy it every April, for the anniverary. The 3D big screen version made it even more special! Not sure, if I'll ever get tired of the Titanic story.

Christina Madrigal on April 06, 2012:

Just saw the movie in 3d....not really the point but it is still a great movie...very emotional. Almost 100 years.......

Smarajit Chowdhury from Kolkata, India on April 04, 2012:

You have done great research to produce an awesome informative article about facts and fiction related to the Titanic. It was great to read it. My full thumbs for the hard work put in by you!

CreativeOrange (author) on April 03, 2012:

Lol Heather ;-p Thanks for stopping by!

Heather on April 02, 2012:

Ha Ha! Now I misspelled, misspelled! Jeez, I really need to read over my comments before posting! Sorry, I'm done now. Lol

Heather on April 02, 2012:

Opps! Just read though my comment after I posted it and realized that after bringing up Alejandra's childish spelling that I miss spelled Kindergarten. Well, at least I noticed.

Heather on April 02, 2012:

Wow, can't believe someone wrote that because Rose and Jack weren't real people that this movie was stupid. That it's just a stupid ship that sank and isn't important because those two people are fictional. Are you serious? Over 1,500 people died, you insensitive moron! Rose and Jack were meant to add a human element to the cold hard facts. Something we can relate to as human beings. Not that I expect you to understand. Anyone who would write "it's just about a stupid ship" obviously has no empathy for the human race. Do you honestly believe that out of over 2,200 people no one had a love story worth caring about? How about all the children who were never able to grow up enough to begin there own love stories? I really hope your inhuman reaction to this film is in the minority, otherwise we are doomed. By the way, your ignorance level was really obvious in your kindergarden spelling and complete lack of punctuation. Please get educated. And learn some empathy for others.

emma on April 02, 2012:

#alejandra that comment is heartless and unfair. in the titanic film some of the events maybe untrue but the main point of the film was to let people understand a bit more about the titanic it self. yeah people maybe upset that jack and rose weren't real passengers hence the reason why they are now making the series on ivt1 to show real passengers and their storys

Shannon on March 30, 2012:

It was based on a real love story but not them 2

Alejandra lopez on March 27, 2012:

Why do ppl say this is there fav movie if its just a ship sinking

The love part was fack ppl just cried when he died wow

Now that i know that i hate this movie they mad such a drama

Alejandra lopez on March 27, 2012:

That's so dumb i thought it was a real love story

I been crying all the times i saw this movie because of rose nd jack not the sinking

Why did u guys did this movie its just about ppl dieing just the sinking about the ship now i dont like this movie ppl r stupid for saying that this is there fav movie its just a boat sinking

Samnmax on March 22, 2012:

Really interesting facts, just watched the documentary about titanic I'm fascinated.

Raevyn14 from Tecumseh, Oklahoma on March 09, 2012:

Ok, lets start with the problems with the ship and who was responsible for the sinking. Thomas Andrews built the ship, yes. But the plans were supposed to be the ship was supposed to be made of steel with steel rivets but, the ship was made around the sides and the stern of the ship and the bow was made with iron, the rivets were iron not steel.

The ship was supposed to have 70-80 lifeboats but, Bruce Ismay shortened the boats to 30-40, there were not enough boats to save everyone.

Now Captain Edward Smith, was on the 1st ship and didn't go down with the ship, but he did with the titanic.

As for the titanic being a real wreckage, yes, its real. Its horrible that scientist who are too smart for their own good, wanted to raise the ship from here her watery grave, that would be bad. She is now a gravesite for hers and the people who died with the ship

Scott on October 12, 2011:

How can I contact you privately i have a question about one of your pictures!

CreativeOrange (author) on October 11, 2011:

Thank you all for the feedback. This hub was a lot of fun to write! I recently heard that the wreckage is at risk for being eaten by aquatic insects. Maybe I'll write a hub about it. Has anyone heard of this?

ninja-kiwi on September 20, 2011:

Wow! this article is great, it really helped me with my language arts project!

HASHIM SHAH on July 17, 2011:


Sleepyshivaker on January 20, 2011:

Loved it. Very nice article. Looking forward to seeing more of these on your future post.

Jaylin Arruda on November 28, 2010:

Tons of typos and facts that were confusing could be better

Tina Kachan from Europe, Croatia on November 14, 2010:

Love the article, and love the movie. It`s one of those movies I can see a hundred times, and it never gets old.

I don`t know if anyone knows this but James Cameron spend more time "on" the Titanic shooting the footage than the living passengers. Just my two cents :)

RedElf from Canada on February 13, 2010:

Thanks so much for this. The facts are almost as curious as the fiction!

CreativeOrange (author) on February 08, 2010:

Thanks, I'm also thinking about starting a hub about the making of the movie, which is epic in itself.

Lucky621 from The Sunshine State on February 08, 2010:

Wow - this is great - it is a very interesting story - I loved the movie!

christine almaraz from colorado springs on February 08, 2010:

Very well written and informative.

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