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Nancy Palmieri/AP
Millvina Dean in a 1998 file photo.

“Titanic” Stars Aid the Disaster’s Last Survivor

May 12, 2009 05:30 PM
by Denis Cummings
The last survivor of the Titanic sinking can’t pay for her nursing home care, and an Irish photographer has started a campaign to help.

Millvina Fund Created to Aid Titanic Survivor

Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron, the stars and director of the 1997 Academy Award-winning film “Titanic,” have donated $10,000 each to a fund covering the medical costs of 97-year-old Millvina Dean, the last surviving passenger on the Titanic, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Dean, who was just 9 weeks old when the Titanic sank in April 1912, currently lives in a nursing home in Southampton, England, the Titanic’s home port. She never married and has no children, leaving her with no family members to care for her or help pay her £3,000 ($4,500)-a-month medical costs.

She has held two auctions of Titanic memorabilia over the past year; an auction in October raised £30,000 ($45,000), according to the BBC. A second auction in April raised a disappointing $8,000. The main auction item, a canvas bag that may have been used to carry Dean onto a rescue ship, was donated back to Dean by the buyer, who paid £1,500 ($2,200) for the item, CNN reported.
Dean has received support from Irish author and photographer Don Mullan, who has been auctioning off pictures of Dean signing an autograph. Two weeks ago, Mullan called on those involved in “Titanic” to lend their support.

“There are people ... who have made enormous profits from the Titanic story and I believe they can and, morally, should help,” he told the Irish Independent.

On Monday, the British Titanic Society launched the Millvina Fund to collect donations for her care. It has received substantial donations from Mullan, Winslet, DiCaprio, Cameron and designer Ben de Lisi.

DiCaprio and Winslet together issued a statement in which they said they were “honoured to contribute to the Millvina Fund,” the Telegraph reported.

Biography: Millvina Dean

Dean was 9 weeks old when her father Bertram, mother Georgetta and 2-year-old brother, also named Bertram, boarded the Titanic in third-class for its maiden voyage in April 1912, according to The Biography Channel. The family was immigrating to Wichita, Kan., where the elder Bertram intended to open a tobacco shop.

On the night of April 14 the Titanic struck an iceberg southeast of Newfoundland. Bertram raced his family to the deck, where Georgetta and her two children were loaded into a lifeboat. They were later rescued and taken to New York, but Bertram remained on the ship and died the following morning.

Millvina, the youngest passenger on the Titanic, became a minor celebrity on her family’s return voyage to England. “For years, she shied away from the attention, but in her later years embraced her part in the story of the Titanic,” writes The Biography Channel.

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