When James Cameron envisioned Rose Calvert he had, in fact, envisioned Beatrice Wood, he just didn’t know it. Combative, fearless and dominated by her mother, Beatrice Wood, with her creative temperament and aristocratic parents, was the ‘real’ Titanic Rose.
Once he was aware of Beatrice Wood, Cameron admired, studied and ultimately based Rose Calvert on her. And so, who was this elusive woman who inspired one of cinemas most loved characters?
Beatrice Wood: The real titanic rose
Born in San Francisco in 1893 to respectable parents, Beatrice Wood was blue-blood personified. She was sent to a convent in Paris in her teens, a prep school in her twenties and vacationed in Europe for the duration of her adolescence. In the vein of Rose Calvert, Wood was exposed to museums and theatres, but, in 1912 when she was due to “come out” to the upper echelon masses, she told her mother that she wanted to become a painter and promptly relocated to Giverny: the home of Monet.
Beatrice Wood wasn’t on the Titanic in 1912 nor was she the type of person ever to be so. She adored experimental artwork – most notably the work of Marcel Duchamp – she joined the French National Repertory Theatre in 1918, she championed Dadaism – which is best described as an anti-art movement – and she was also an exceptional sculptor.
Not only was the “Titanic Rose” a wonderful, creative person but she was also an adventurer. By 1974 Wood had resided in numerous countries across the world such as America, Canada and France. She also lived in LA, New York, Paris and Montreal.
Then in her late 80s, she published two books before she passed away 25 years later. Nevertheless, James Cameron invited Beatrice to the premiere of Titanic in 1998, but she ultimately declined as she was 104 years old at the time.
Undeterred, Cameron dined with his muse in 1999 but, true to her word, Beatrice refused to watch the movie. She passed away that same week.
To conclude, Rose Calvert wasn’t based on Beatrice Wood; she wished she was her.
Rose Calvert and Jack Dawson
It is undeniable that “Titanic Rose” shares some characteristics with Beatrice and vice versa, be it their love of artwork or their aristocratic parents but, was there ever a “real” Jack Dawson?
There was a Dawson on board the vessel but his name wasn’t Jack, it was Joseph. He did, however, meet his sweetheart on board. Employed by The White Star Line as a coal trimmer, Dawson was aboard the Titanic in 1912 and became enamoured with his friend’s sister.
Unfortunately, Joseph Dawson died in a similar manner to how his character did and was buried in relative obscurity in Nova Scotia.
Despite the wishes of numerous movie fans, Joseph and Beatrice never met – not that we know of anyway.
That said, 700 people survived the disaster and they were just as wondrous and mesmeric as the “real” Jack and Rose. Whether it be Laura Mabel who worked as a secretary to Lady Gordan or Rhoda Abbott or Jack Thayer, the survivors of the disaster should never be overshadowed by their fictional counterparts.
30 James Street
Immerse yourself in RMS Titanic’s enchanting history by visiting 30 James Street – the home of the iconic vessel. Explore the magnificently and pensively restored White Star Headquarters, which has been spectacularly transformed into a luxurious Liverpool hotel.
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