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Celebrating the "Unsinkable Molly" Margaret Tobin Brown in Cinema

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

by Terri Bey

On this day, July 18, 1867, Margaret Tobin Brown, daughter of John and Johanna Tobin, two Irish immigrants, was born in Hannibal, Missouri. Brown moved to Leadville, CO at age eighteen, and in September of 1886, she married John "J. J. " Brown. The couple became rich because of mining. Brown got involved in the Suffrage Movement. She also traveled the world.

Brown is most famous for surviving the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 14-15, 1912 as a First Class passenger in Lifeboat #6. It was in Lifeboat #6, where she had that infamous confrontation with Quartermaster Robert Hichens over whether they should go back for more survivors. Brown also gathered the surviving First Class women aboard the rescue ship, RMS Carpathia, and took up a collection for those who lost everything. Brown eventually gathered a committee together to award RMS Carpathia Captain Arthur Rostrom a "Loving" Cup and awards to his officers. Brown was later known as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown."

As there are many movies portraying the RMS Titanic, there are many portrayals of Margaret Brown in these films. I have always loved Margaret Brown. She was full of spunk and I think she was and still is a great role model for women, as she ran for Senate in 1914 years before women got the right to vote.

Here are some movie portrayals of Margaret Browns. Enjoy. Happy Birthday Margaret Brown.

"The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (1964) stars Debbie Reynolds in the title role. This film is based upon the stage production of the musical of the same name. I could not find a decent "Titanic" scene. That scene itself is kind of silly, where she sings about "not being down." This film portrayal is not CLOSE to being accurate. This is just a fun musical.

"A Night to Remember" (1958) stars Kenneth More as Second Officer Lightoller, the highest-ranking officer to survive the disaster. The film is based upon the Walter Lord book of the same name, published in 1955. I picked two videos of Margaret Brown scenes. The first video features one of my favorites. Molly Brown (Tucker McGuire) is sitting with three other people talking about how she got rich and the very funny and true story about how her husband John had put money in the stove and lit a match.

The second link shows the famous confrontation between Margaret Brown and Quartermaster Robert Hichens (Arthur Gross) who is at the tiller, the mechanism that steers the boat. Hichens later said, "Of all the lifeboats available, she (Brown) had to step into mine." I loved how Margaret Brown would not take Hichens' guff. To see the confrontation, please fast forward to the 4:11 mark, as I could not find an isolated video of this confrontation.

As far as accuracy, I would say this is about as accurate as you can get. Margaret Brown was a thin woman. I notice that most she is a bit heavier in portrayals for some reason

"S.O.S Titanic" (1979) is a TV movie starring David Warner as Second Passenger Laurence Beesley and Cloris Leachman as Molly Brown. Brown is portrayed as a pretty sassy character. I like the film overall, but her insistence on being called "Molly" is definitely not accurate. I apologize for the film quality.

"Titanic" (1997) is the famous 1997 Best Picture winner starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Kathy Bates plays the part of Margaret Brown. I liked her portrayal of Brown. It is very interesting that director James Cameron has the exchange between Brown and Robert Hichens (Paul Brightwell) in reverse. In the "A Night to Remember" (1958) film, Brown threatens to throw Hichens overboard and in the Cameron film, Hichens does the exact opposite, and threatens to "punch a hole through her face." I know that the two had a rough going on that night, but I am wondering if Hichens would threaten a lady like that, especially back in those days.

Well, that is my celebration of Margaret Brown on the 154th anniversary of her birth. I hope you enjoyed this blog.


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2 comentarios

Miembro desconocido
19 ago 2021

I LOVE this! It's a nice tribute to Molly. The use of film footage from various movies adds a visual effect that enhances her character and role on the Titanic. Great work!

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Jill Carlier
Jill Carlier
26 jul 2021

Thank you for this amazing blog!!!! -Jill ps. GREAT WORK!!

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