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What is the Real Story About the Elderly Couple Who Died on the Titanic?

While the director of the Titanic movie, James Cameron, may have taken artistic liberties in creating stories about the people aboard the so-called unsinkable ship, there are factual characters in the film as well. We see an elderly couple hugging on the bed as the ship sinks towards the film’s end. But did you know they were based on real people?

Rosalie Ida Straus and Isidor Straus, the elderly couple, owned Macy’s department store. Ida refused a seat on a lifeboat when Isidor was not allowed to board. She said, “Where you go, I go.” These words inspired Rose’s line in the film.

The Story of the Strauses Aboard the Titanic

Rosalie Ida and Isidor Straus were a wealthy couple who co-owned Macy’s department store. Isidor was also a former member of the US Congress. The couple had an unbreakable bond, and they chose to die together when the Titanic sank.

When the Titanic hit the iceberg and started to sink into the freezing ocean, women and children were prioritized to board the lifeboats. It was the unwritten law of the sea. Ida, who was 63 at the time, gave up her chance to safety to stay with her beloved Isidor, who she’s been married to for well over 40 years. Paul A. Kurzman, their great-grandson, shares their story.

My great-grandmother Ida stepped into the lifeboat expecting that her husband would follow. When he didn’t follow, she was very concerned and the ship’s officer in charge of lowering that particular lifeboat said, ‘Well, Mr. Straus, you’re an elderly man and we all know who you are.Of course you can enter the lifeboat with your wife.’ And, my great-grandfather said, ‘No. Until I see that every woman and child on board this ship is in a lifeboat, I will not enter into a lifeboat myself.’

Paul A. Kurzman, Great-Grandson

After this, the couple retreated to their room and awaited their fate.

Even as a boy, Kurzman was fascinated by his great-grandparents’ story. When he got older and understood their devotion and bravery, he felt an overwhelming sense of pride, honor, and respect for them. (Source: Today)

Did They Uncover Anything from the Strauses in the Wreckage?

On the film’s 20th anniversary, Cameron invited the ancestors of people who passed away that day to participate in a one-hour special on the National Geographic Channel entitled Titanic: 20 Years Later with James Cameron.

In the segment, they showed a gold and onyx locket that belonged to the Strauses. It was found inside Isidor’s pocket watch when his corpse was recovered. Sadly, they never found Ida’s remains.

Inside that locket were two photographs. They had to be touched up a little bit because of the salt water, but they weren’t damaged much because the seal was so tight. One of the photographs was of their eldest son, Jesse, and the other was of their eldest daughter, and that, of course, was Sara, my grandmother.

Paul A. Kurzman, Great-Grandson

Another piece that survived the Titanic was Ida’s mink coat. After she decided to remain aboard with her husband, she gave her maid, Ellen Bird, her coat as she boarded on a lifeboat. Sometime after the tragedy, Bird tried to return the coat to Ida’s daughter, Sara. She thanked her but told her to keep it in memory of her late mother. (Source: Today)

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