Many people are familiar with the emotional moment in Titanic when Kate Winslet’s character sacrifices her place on the lifeboat to be with Leonardo DiCaprio’s character.
But did you know the dramatic scene is based on a heart-wrenching true story?
The selfless act echoes the moment a rich woman on the real-life ill-fated ship chose to drown at her husband’s side rather than leave without him.
When the RMS Titanic hit the iceberg on the evening of April 14 1912, Isidor Straus, owner of Macy’s department store, and his wife Ida, has gone to bed for the night.
Parents of six children, Isidor, 67 and Isa, 63, had been married for around 41 years and were returning to the US after a holiday in France.
Hours later they were being hurried into lifeboats, as the “unsinkable” ship was rapidly going down following the collision with the ice berg.
As a woman, and one of the wealthiest passengers in first class, Isa was guaranteed a spot on the lifeboat.
Millionaire Isidor was also offered a spot to safety, due to his age and for his role as a prominent philanthropist and former congressman, but he declined.
He insisted on remaining on the ship so that women and children could take his place.
Isa refused to be separated from her husband, and they agreed that they would both go down with the ship together.
June Hall McCash wrote in her book, A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus, that passengers heard Isa saying: “Isidor, my place is with you. I have lived with you. I love you, and if necessary, I shall die with you.”
Those who were rowed away to safety saw the couple “standing alongside the rail, holding each other and weeping silently.”
Isidor’s body was recovered at sea, along with 306 others but Ida’s was never found.
A memorial service was later held for the couple on May 12, and 6,000 people attended the service, with thousands more standing outside in the rain trying to get admitted.
The Titanic movie featured a touching montage of people on the ship, which included an old couple hugging on a bed — in a nod to the Straus lovers and many others who perished on the ship.
More than 1,500 people were killed on the Titanic — making it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.
Only 16 wooden lifeboats and four collapsible boats were carried on board — enough to accommodate 1,178 people — but only one third of the ship’s total capacity.
Edward Smith, the ship’s captain, went down with the vessel. His last words were: “Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea.
“It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”