Why A Real Titanic Survivor Refused To Watch The Movie

Millvina Dean, the last living Titanic survivor, refused to see James Cameron's movie.

By Mark McKee | Published

titanic suvivor

The Titanic is a name that echoes through history as one of the largest and most famous maritime disasters since we started navigating the seven seas. Of course, younger generations know all about the legend of the Titanic thanks to the work of legendary director James Cameron and his historical fiction surrounding the disaster. Although it was one of the biggest movies of all time, the New York Post reports that Millvina Dean, the last remaining Titanic survivor, refused to watch the epic masterpiece that made Leonardo DiCaprio a household name. 

According to the report, Millvina Dean was just over two months old when her family boarded the ill-fated cruise liner bound for New York. When the ship hit the iceberg, she, her brother, and her mother boarded lifeboat number ten while her father stayed behind and met his fate when the ship (heralded as so grand God himself couldn’t sink it) fell to the bottom of the ocean. Dean outlived everyone, becoming the Titanic’s last living survivor until she died in 2009 at the age of 97 years old. 

james cameron titanic

Ironically, the survivor who refused to watch James Cameron’s story about the ill-fated cruise liner has a story that resembled that of Jack Dawson, the character played by the Academy Award-winning actor. She and her family were booked on an ocean liner headed to New York, where they planned to continue to open a tobacco shop in Kansas City. A coal strike caused their liner to be canceled, and in a fortuitous turn of events, they were offered spots as third-class passengers on the doomed liner. 

To hear the Titanic’s last survivor tell the story she didn’t know about her place in history until she was about eight years old, revealing that her mother never wanted to talk about losing her first husband. According to her, her father was the one who saved her and her family, saying that while the rest of the passengers didn’t believe the ship could sink, her father’s quick action got them to lifeboats quickly. She and her mother were separated from her brother until they reunited on the Carpathia, the ship that rescued them and took them on to New York. 

Millvina Dean spent her whole life living in anonymity after she returned to her home in Southhampton, England, a mere few miles from where the Titanic launched. It wasn’t until she was 75 years old when she attended the anniversary of the sinking that the world learned of her name, and they discovered that she was the ill-fated Titanic’s last known survivor. She spent the rest of her life, the last 22 years of it, retelling her story and reading letters from those who became fascinated by the sinking of the great ship. 

Looking back at what she and her family went through and how the sinking of the Titanic changed the trajectory of her life, it is no wonder she didn’t want to watch the Avatar director‘s recounting. Even an invitation from Prince Charles to view a screening of the movie wasn’t enough to get the Titanic’s last survivor to relive the experience.