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Denver museum shines light on Titanic survivor Molly Brown

March 27, 2012 |  7:02 am

As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches (as well as the return of James Cameron's 1997 film to screens), a museum offers a look at the real Molly Brown
While James Cameron has been making headlines rooting around in the Mariana Trench, the subject of his 1997 blockbuster oceanographic expedition "Titanic" keeps popping to the surface as well.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the star-crossed White Star liner (and, perhaps not so coincidentally, a 3-D return of Cameron's film to theater screens), Denver's Molly Brown House Museum has been offering Titanic-themed tours of the facility.

While the museum is reportedly short on artifacts, the house does offer a look at a few items from the Titanic's sister ship as well as Brown's insurance claim from the ill-fated journey (among her listed losses was a $20,000 necklace, "street furs" and 14 hats, which seems a bit excessive by today's standards, but millinery was a far different business in the early 20th century).

More intriguing, however, is the story of the real Molly Brown, who went by the name Margaret during her lifetime and never actually referred to herself as "unsinkable," in contrast with the 1964 musical about her.

A philanthropist whose husband struck gold long before boarding the Titanic, Brown was active in women's suffrage, labor reform and charitable efforts that included an outreach among the wealthy survivors of the Titanic's maiden voyage to help the poor who were also on board.

To further commemorate the anniversary, the museum is also hosting a six-course meal at a historic hotel in Denver with plans for a "steerage class" gathering as well in August, featuring an Irish band. Discriminating "Titanic" fans might want to hold out for that one -- Jack Dawson and his pals threw a far better party below decks.

The Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912.


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James Cameron makes ocean dive to Earth's deepest point

-- Chris Barton

Photo: A banner on display at the Molly Brown Museum in Denver. Credit: Ed Andrieski / Associated Press