The last survivor of the ill-fated vessel Titanic, won’t have to worry about her lack of funds for the rest of her life and she has the stars of the 1997 film to thank for it. Only last month, 97-year-old Millvina Dean had resorted to selling her autograph to pay the bills for her nursing home.
Irish author and photographer, Don Mullan, spoke out Sunday in the Irish Independent, challenging those who made the multi-million dollar film to match him dollar for dollar on behalf of Dean.
Mullan argued to the Independent, “An old woman, still trying to survive, this time from drowning under the weight of meeting her nursing home expenses, simply wasn’t right, especially given the enormous sums of money the story of Titanic had generated in the recent past. . .To fail Millvina Dean, the last tangible living link to the Titanic, would make a mockery of the world’s expressed concern for the tragedy.”
The Independent has reported that director James Cameron and actors Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have given a “considerable donation” to a $30,000 fund which will take care of Millvina for the rest of her life.
Dean was the youngest passenger onboard the Titanic at only nine weeks old. According to Encyclopedia-Titanica.org, Millvina became something of a celebrity among the passengers on the Adriatic, the ship that would take her, her mother and brother home to England. Apparently, passengers were entranced by her story, taking photographs and standing in line just to hold her.
According to CNN, Dean lives in a residential nursing home that costs her £3,000 a month, £36,000 a year in total. Floundering beneath the weight of her expenses, Dean attempted to sell her last souvenirs of the fateful voyage, including the canvas mail bag that may have been used to lift her from the lifeboat onto the rescue ship Carpathia. Of the 17 items Dean attempted to auction off, she earned only $8,000, a fraction of what she had hoped to earn. But there was a bright side to the loss. The buyer of the aforementioned canvas bag donated the item back to Millvina.
In the 1980s, Millvina gladly succumbed to the public’s renewed interest in the sinking. She was in high demand at conventions, exhibitions and documentaries, especially after Titanic-hype hit its peak upon the release of the film in 1997.
Having been a long-time enthusiast of the history behind the ship and its sinking, as well as the film, it’s wonderful to see the two connect in such a positive way. When Titanic was released, it fueled my great love for films based on true stories. I read every book I could on the subject and watched every documentary. Millvina’s story is one that is familiar to me and her account of the event definitely enhanced my viewing of Titanic. It’s truly touching to hear that some of the most visible individuals behind the movie have stepped up to help her, this last link to the Titanic.
Alison O’Riordan, Stars to the Rescue as Last Titanic Survivor Struggles to Stay Afloat, Irish Independent
Sale Fails to Bail Out Last Titanic Survivor, CNN.com
Miss Elizabeth Gladys “Millvina” Dean, Encyclopedia Titanica