It seems filmmakers can never quite get enough of this particular disaster–there have probably been about a dozen movies about it, starting as early as May 1912, when a 10-minute film starring real life passenger/actress Dorothy Gibson called Saved from the Titanic was released. It’s not too surprising that at least one actor would have set sail more than once, although you’d think they would have learned their lesson the first time.
No, apparently not. In 1958, a young Bernard Fox played iceburg-spotting lookout Frederick Fleet in the spectacular film based on Walter Lord’s meticulously researched book, A Night to Remember (in my opinion, this is the best Titanic film out there). The role was uncredited but important (for the record, Fleet survived the sinking).
Twenty-one years later, a TV movie called SOS Titanic aired, starring, alongside Ian Holm and Helen Mirrin, if you can believe it, a young David Warner, who played real-life second-class passenger Lawrence Beesley (who also survived the sinking in real life).
Fast forward to 1997, when the two actors appeared onscreen together in James Cameron’s blockbuster tearjerker Titanic. Fox played Colonel Archibald Gracie who, despite being an American-born member of the family that built the Gracie Mansion in New York, is bafflingly played as a slightly stuffy Englishman. Warner was cast as the fictional and utterly stupidly named Spicer Lovejoy, an English valet/gun-toting Pinkerton (??). He dies. Gracie survived the sinking, spending the night balancing with several other survivors on the overturned lifeboat B, which was washed off the ship’s deck before it could be properly launched. He wrote an excellent account of the sinking, but the long night spent in frigid water badly affected his health, and he died in December 1912.