Tag Archives: Helen Benziger

The Unsinkable Molly Brown – as related by her great-granddaughter, Helen Benziger

 

Molly Brown
About Helen Benziger

Helen Benziger is available for events with her per diem of $1,000  per diem plus expenses.

Helen Benziger began talking about her great-grandmother, Margaret “The Unsinkable Molly” Brown in 1999. Her family never spoke of Margaret Brown, and the first time she realized that she was connected to her was while watching the movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

On screen “Molly” was dancing on the bar and throwing her skirts up in wild abandon when her mother leaned over and said, “By the way…that’s your great grandmother.” That was the beginning of Helen’s interest in her great grandmother’s life and all things Titanic. Now, she travels the country talking about Margaret and Titanic.

Like her great-grandmother, Helen is active in many areas. Her passion is fighting homelessness and helping abused dogs. Currently, Helen lives in a log cabin in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming along with her husband, David, and their three dogs.

Margaret Brown, the infamous Unsinkable Molly Brown depicted on Broadway and motion pictures. “I am a daughter of adventure. This means I never experience a dull moment and must be prepared for any eventuality . . . That’s my arc, as the astrologers would say. It’s a good one, too, for a person who had rather make a snap-out than a fade-out of life.”
The Denver Post | august 1923

 

 

Descendants: The offspring of the unstopable captain of the Carpathia meet the great-grandaughter of the Unsinkable Molly Brown

Rostron and Brown descendants
Descendants Margaret & Janet Rostron, great granddaughters of Captain Arthur Henry Rostron presenting Helen Benziger with the loving cup her great grandmother, Margaret Brown presented to their great grandfather who was the captain of the Carpathia…the ship which raced to the rescue of the survivors of Titanic.

UNSINKABLE FEELING

Kyrila Scully shares stories of strength and survival from the Titanic disaster.

By Peter Hawkins, special correspondent

Sun Sentinel

If you’re passing the band shell at Old School Square in Delray Beach one Saturday afternoon in May, you might see a lady wearing an Edwardian long satin dress topped by a wide-brimmed hat set on a rakish angle, describing her miraculous escape from the Titanic.

It’s none other than Kyrila Scully of Boynton Beach, portraying the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, perhaps the most colorful survivor of the mighty liner that sank 90 years ago this month.

Scully is so steeped in the most famous maiden voyage since Noah launched his ark, that school children call her the “Titanic Mom.”  She will again impersonate Molly–or Margaret Brown as she was known in her lifetime–May 18 as part of Delray Beach  Preservations Week.

Scully, 47, takes her “Titanic Nights”** exhibition to schools, churches, condos and civic events, and writes and performs monologues about the survivors.  In addition to playing Molly Brown, she impersonates first-class stewardess Violet Jessop and second-class passenger Lutie Parrish in her best Kentucky accent:

“Thee, lawd!  Look at all the people here today!” she exclaims.  “Welcome aboard!  I’m Mrs. Samuel Parrish, but you can call me Lutie.”

“She’s in total character when she plays these people,” said Sandra LaHair, who runs an Edwardian and Victorian costume business with Scully called Grand Staircase.

Scully is self-publishing TITANIC: THE SURVIVORS–A MANIFEST OF THE LIFEBOATS this month.  The book places survivors in lifeboats and traces the stories of their escape from the doomed ship, which started to sink on April 14, 1912, and went down after midnight.

Also this month, Scully and LaHair are leading a party to mark the anniversary of the tragic voyage with special events at the Orlando museum, TITANIC–SHIP OF DREAMS.  The lease on the museum, which features a full-scale recreation of the ship’s grand staircase, ends in August, and Scully is campaigning to move it to Palm Beach County.  The museum hasn’t found a suitable location yet.

For LaHair, the sinking has a message for today.

“People lost their lives foolishly out of pride,” she said.  “It was touted as unsinkable, as if to fly in the face of God.  They thought God couldn’t sink her.  Well, he could.”

Scully sees the parallel with the events of Sept. 11.

“There are so many correlations with 9-11,” she said.  “It says a lot about the arrogance of technology.  It’s similar to the Challenger disaster, too.  In each case, ice warnings were ignored.  Ice brought down the Challenger and ice brought down the Titanic.”

Scully has been interested with the vessel for almost 40 years.  Her condo in Boynton Beach is like a shrine to the liner, with a life belt that was a prop for the film, TITANIC, scale models of the ship, and memorabilia that includes two tiny pieces of coal brought up from the seabed of the wreck.

In a curious way, the preoccupation was her lifesaver.  At the age of 8, she went through a traumatic experience she still can’t talk about.  Two things in 1964 helped her: One was the Beatles.  The other was a movie about the disaster, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.  She got over the Beatles, but she’s still under the Titanic’s spell.

“It was inspirational,” she said.  “I thought, if they could survive that, I could survive what I was going through.”

Through the Titanic, she has helped students see their way through personal crises.  Scully answers students’ questions on a Titanic Web site.

“I’ve shown how the Titanic helped me to cope with problems I had growing up by showing them life lessons from the Titanic.”

**  (Kyrila’s note: The name TITANIC NIGHTS has been changed to TITANIC IMPACT PERFORMANCE EXHIBITS.  Also—not true—I didn’t “get over” the Beatles.  I’m still a big fan.)

Sun Sentinel Article

Photo by Staff Photographer Mark Randall

Kids Ask the Best (and Most Humorous) Questions

Wade Sisson head shot

By Wade Sisson

I’ve spoken about the Titanic at a lot of schools since my book, Racing Through the Night, was published in 2011, and I soon learned that kids always ask the best – and most humorous – questions.

For that reason, it’s been my visits to schools that I’ve enjoyed the most. There’s something about the Titanic story that captures the imaginations of young people. You can see it in their eyes as you start talking about it. When you ask them if they know anything about the Titanic, they all raise their hands.

The questions are usually evenly split between Titanic, the ship and Titanic, the James Cameron movie. Were Jack and Rose real? Why didn’t the ship see the iceberg in time to miss it?

They’re always disappointed to learn that Jack and Rose were fictional characters – but they’re fascinated to learn about the real people who are part of the Titanic story. They always seem especially touched by the story of Millvina Dean, the last of the survivors, who died in 2009.

Most of the schools do an amazing job of preparing the kids in advance. By the time I arrive, they’ve already studied the ship, the passengers and have even dipped their hands in 28-degree water.

That doesn’t mean I don’t the occasional oddball question. Like the time one little fourth-grader asked me, “Did you bring up any gold?” I told him I’d actually never been to the wreck site – and I didn’t have any gold. He didn’t believe me and asked me again several times during the discussion. Then as I was leaving the classroom he stopped me. “Dude, seriously, where’s the gold?”

The children also try to tie the Titanic story in with other lessons they’ve had. During one school visit our discussion got hijacked by a few well-meaning third-graders. It started with one question: “Did the Titanic sink in the Bermuda Triangle?” I assured the class that the Titanic was nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle, but once the thing had been mentioned, it took on a life of its own. Another student said “Maybe the Titanic hit the iceberg because they couldn’t see inside the Bermuda Triangle.” I had to confess I was not a Bermuda Triangle expert and that seemed to satisfy them enough to stop their line of questioning.

There’s always at least one child who reminds me of myself at that age – completely drawn into the Titanic story and eager to learn as much as possible. But it’s all of the children – and their genuine interest in the history – that makes these school visits worthwhile.

titanic-author-sisson

RMS Titanic – the technology

The Titanic was the second in the Olympic Class for White Star Line and left port from Southampton on Wednesday, April 10th, 1912 for New York, stopping at Cherborg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.

The technology on the ship was state of the art and designed to move large numbers of people comfortably across the North Atlantic in a year when over 200,000 passengers were carried back and forth in ships.