Dorothy Gibson

Active - 1912  |   Born - in Hoboken, NJ  |   Died - Feb 2, 1946 in Paris, France  |  

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A former Harrison Fisher model, pioneering silent screen actress Dorothy Gibson would have been long forgotten had it not been for that infamous night to remember, April 24, 1912. The leading lady of the French-American Eclair Film Company and the star of that firm's first American production, Hands Across the Sea (1911), brunette Gibson was returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land aboard the Titanic. She was accompanied by her mother and the two ladies were saved in Lifeboat Seven, the first to be lowered from the mortally wounded luxury liner. Arriving in New York on the Carpathia, the exhausted actress was met by Eclair's American chairman, Jules Brulatour, who presented his leading lady with an engagement ring. Brulatour then hurried the brave actress through the harrowing ordeal of reliving the tragedy, this time for the cameras in a one-reel fictionalized version. Scooping all comers (including the mammoth Danish production Atlantis), Eclair premiered the aptly titled Saved From the Titanic in May 1912, less than two weeks after the disaster. Several publications questioned the taste of exploiting the tragedy, including the influential Moving Picture World who suggested that "the deploring disaster should be given as little attention as possible as an exhibition feature." Shortly after the premiere of Saved From the Titanic, Dorothy Gibson wed Jules Brulatour and retired. The marriage proved short-lived, but Gibson did not return to performing. By 1922, she was living under somewhat meager conditions in New York City, and 24 years later, her death at age 56 went completely unnoticed by the entertainment press.