The "Real" Rose Calvert from Titanic

Beatrice Wood in 1908, four years before the Titanic sank.
Beatrice Wood in 1908, four years before the Titanic sank. | Source

April 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the first and last voyage of Titanic. When I was doing some research, I came across some interesting information. I learned of Beatrice Wood, the person that director James Cameron used as a model for the character Rose Dewitt Bukater Calvert.

When I sat down to research Beatrice Wood, I found her to be an exceptional person. I will attempt to sum up her rather eventful life, which is rather difficult to do when she lived to be 105 years old.

When asked what her secret to longevity was, she said, "art books, chocolates, and young men".

Facts and Fiction About Rose from "Titanic"

Rose's character was based upon a real woman, Beatrice Wood.
• Both the character and the real person were artists.
• The real person did not travel on the Titanic.
• The screenwriter was inspired by Beatrice's humor, charm, and creativity.

Early Life


Beatrice Wood was born in San Francisco, California in 1893 to wealthy and socially conscious parents. At the age of 5, her family moved her to New York City. Her mother immediately began to prepare Beatrice for her eventual coming out party. She sent her to Paris for a year in a convent. She was enrolled in finishing school and she enjoyed summer holidays in Europe. While in Europe, she was exposed to art galleries, museums and theatre.

In 1912, when she was supposed to throw her much-planned "coming out" party (and the year the Titanic sank, without Beatrice aboard), she cancelled the plans and defiantly told her mother that she wanted to become a painter. As you can imagine, her mother once again set out to do things in high style. She sent Beatrice to France with a chaperone to study painting. Beatrice wasn't impressed with the school and moved to Giverny, the hometown of Monet, where many aspiring artists seemed to flock. She got in a fight with her chaperone and took up residence in an attic. Her mother got wind of this and came to Giverny to check on her. She found the conditions in the attic not to her liking and promptly took Beatrice back to Paris.

In Paris, she shifted her focus to theatre. She took private lessons, but with the onset of World War I, her parents thought it best to bring her back to New York. Her mother tried her best to prepare Beatrice for the New York Stage, but she joined the French National Repertory Theatre. She played in over 60 roles under the stage name "Mademoiselle Patricia".

While working at the theater she was told about a Frenchman who was in the hospital and lonely. Someone suggested that she go visit him, since she spoke French. During her second visit she was introduced to the man's friend, Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp was best-known for his painting "Nude Descending a Staircase". She and Duchamp hit it off immediately and he would go on to introduce Beatrice to Walter and Louise Arnsberg, who held artsy parties at their contemporary home. Beatrice was exposed to the "dada" movement, which is best described as an anti-art movement. Duchamp also introduced her to the writer Henri-Pierre Roché, who would become her first love interest. Duchamp, Roché, and Beatrice seemed to have some sort of love triangle going on and are thought to be the inspiration for Roché's book, Jules et Jim. He was the first man to break her heart.

In 1918, Beatrice left New York and ran off to Montreal. Of course, her mother tracked her down with a private detective. Her good friend Paul, who was the theater manager with whom she shared an apartment, convinced her that the only way to be out from under her mother's thumb was to marry him. So she did. It was a marriage of convenience, mostly for Paul, who managed to use her and her friends to support his gambling habit. Beatrice's parents saw to it that the marriage was dissolved years later.

When Beatrice returned to New York she found that the "dada" movement had died down. Duchamp was traveling in Europe, the Arensberg's had moved to Los Angeles, and Roché had gone back to Paris. Beatrice then fell in love with the British actor and director Reginald Pole. But Pole, too, would end up breaking her heart. Beatrice decided to move to Los Angeles to be near the Arensbergs.

Taking Up Ceramics

On one of her trips, Beatrice purchased a set of baroque dessert plates with a stunning luster glaze. When she couldn't find a matching teapot, she decided that she would just simply figure out how to make one herself. She enrolled in a ceramic course at Hollywood High School in 1933. She soon figured out it wasn't as easy as it looked, but she was intrigued with the glaze chemistry and practiced at throwing pots. She eventually began to sell some of her pieces to support herself. She later trained under ceramic artists Glen Lukens, and Gertrud and Otto Natzler.

East Meets West

Beatrice Wood in Ojai.
Beatrice Wood in Ojai. | Source

By 1947, Beatrice Wood's career as a potter was established enough that she decided to build a home in Ojai, California.

She had been included in major exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Major department stores like Neiman Marcus, Gumps, and Marshall Fields placed orders with her.

She began teaching ceramics for the Happy Valley School (now called the Besant Hill School) and operating her studio and showroom.

Her house was across the street from the speaker and thinker Krishnamurti. She was a fan of his philosophy and had even travelled to Europe to hear him speak. According to her biography, she had "always embraced a life that combined the wisdom of the East, positive thinking, a strong work ethic, a Dadaist sense of humor and a romantic view of life."

In 1974, Beatrice moved to another location on a 450-acre parcel of land in Ojai Valley owned by the Happy Valley Foundation, with the understanding that the home would be gifted to the Happy Valley Foundation upon her death.

Then, in her late 80s, she published her first book, called The Angel Who Wore Black Tights. Only a few years later she published her autobiography, I Shock Myself. She went on to publish Pinching Spaniards and 33rd Wife of a Maharajah: A Love Affair in India. She also wrote books under the pen-name of Countess Lola Screwvinsky.

The Character in "Titanic"

When James Cameron was working on his character, Rose Dewitt Bukater Calvert for the film Titanic, he had already envisioned a feisty character with a dominating mother. Bill Paxton's wife was reading Beatrice's Wood's autobiography. Reading it himself, Cameron discovered the perfect real-life version of the character he was creating.

James Cameron invited Beatrice to the premiere of Titanic, but she declined due her health. Bear in mind, she was a mere 104 years old at the time!. So Cameron and Gloria Stuart (who plays the older woman, Rose) dined with Beatrice in her home and presented her with a video of the movie. She vehemently declined to watch it, saying that she knew it would be a sad movie and that it was too late in life to be sad. She died only a few days later, at the age of 105.

It might be noted that actress Gloria Stuart celebrated her 100th birthday on July 4, 2010. Is sounds like she's very much like Beatrice Wood. Sadly, actress Gloria Stuart passed away Sunday, September 26, 2010.



Part 1

Part 2

Beatrice Wood

Comments 64 comments

shariah 6 days ago

was roses last name really dawson in real life when she was on the actual titanic or was it calvert

Tommy 4 weeks ago

I love the

MATHYU HADEN 2 months ago


titanic love a 4 months ago

good hub:)

i always wanted to know this information

Stargrrl 19 months ago

This was a very interesting hub. Nice to read about this wonderful person who inspired Rose from Titanic.

Kaylee Lewis 3 years ago

I luv titanic but the sad part at the end is when jack died I started cryin on that part

Thief12 profile image

Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Interesting! Thanks for the nice read.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

I have read a little bit about the Titanic myself, but I have never stumbled across this information. Thank you for sharing it with us.

zyra 4 years ago

is beatrice wood dead?i wish not she so beautiful

rachelingram3 profile image

rachelingram3 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

I really enjoyed reading this hub, as I love the titanic. I have always felt drawn to its legacy.. maybe that's because I live where it was built, I'm not sure but I recently went to Titanic Belfast, which is a virtual tour about everything to do with Titanic..

You should check my hub out and see what you think :)

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks for stopping by TitanicLoverForever! You really are into it! You could probably write articles about it yourself! :)

TitanicLoverForever 4 years ago

I'm only fourteen and i've done tons of research on Titanic and I knew about Beatrice for a long time now. I've been researching Titanic since I was eight years old.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thank you so much ishwaryaa22!

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

An enrapturing hub! A great peep into the life of a multi-talented and free-spirited woman who inspired the famous female role in the worldwide phenomenal blockbuster film! Wonderfully-written hub!

Thanks for SHARING. Awesome & Interesting. Voted up.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks JamaGenee. If you haven't seen the new 3d version, you should! My daughter and I saw it on opening day. The thing that impressed me the most was the elaborate beadwork on Rose's dresses and then the depth you could now feel in scenes where they are looking over the edge of the ship.

Jeff Wood, it's so good to see you again. I can't tell you enough how much I admired your Great Aunt Beatrice Wood. I am so envious of your memories of her. I still think you and your brother should write a book about her. :) You really make me want to find an IMAX now! I'm at least 100 miles from one. But, it sounds like it will be worth it!

Jeff Wood 4 years ago

I think what makes this a great movie is the story and as a side benefit you get a lot of facts. With the 100 year anniversary coming up tomorrow there have been a lot of shows about it and all have said how close James Cameron got the details.

A quick note about the new release of the movie. I love the new 3D releases that are coming out (loved Star Wars and can’t wait for Lord of the Rings) and Titanic did not disappoint me. The 3D is great, gives some depth in some of the scenes and is not overpowering. What really made the movie awesome though was IMAX! This picture needs to be seen on the really big screen with really big sound. When the ship was breaking up you could feel it and then at the end when Rose was floating on the piece of wood you could hear the water sloshing all around you. I have seen the movie in theaters at least 10 times (it was one of my wife’s favorite movies before we found out about my Aunt Beatrice’s contribution) and this is way the best.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

KCC, I have to agree with you about building a story around a fictional character in order to better relate the main story of an actual event. Very sad some people can't (or refuse to) recognize the difference between a documentary and a non-documentary movie. Even sadder, simply googling Rose would've revealed to cherryberry that she was a fictional character, albeit based on a real Titanic passenger.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Cherryberry, I'm sorry that you feel that way. I disagree with you, though. This is a movie, not a documentary. I think James Cameron did an extraordinary job in staying as true as possible to the actual events. I think it was a great way to take some fictional characters and build a story around them all while you watch many of the real people who were on Titanic. I think you'd appreciate it all more as you learn more about the real events of that night.

cherryberry 4 years ago

i always thought rose was real because everything in the movie made her look like she was real now i know she was a fake i feel angry because the titanic is a very sad story and they have made up a story just to make it look god well i am going to say that is very unfair to the people who died on the titanic and all of the ones thay survied.:(

Cymphonique Miller (How to Rock) 4 years ago

Interesting, i would like to learn more. And Rose also.

Lauren 4 years ago

What about Rose?

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I've been in other parts of TX many times, places where you can see for 20 miles in any direction and not see a house or even a mailbox. So it's not like there isn't a lot of room to spread out instead of cramming millions into one small area like DFW Metro. Glad you're farther south and out of that madness! I can't imagine having to commute in that mess every day!

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Yes, Winstar. Had a great time there and plan to return soon. :) The DFW Metroxplex is crazy! I used to make the commute daily for work. Glad to be further south where it's less hectic/crowded, etc.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Are you talking about Winstar? If so, I whizzed by it last Sunday on my way back from Dallas. The second time I've had to drive right by because there wasn't time to stop and pop in.

As for bluebells on this side of the OK-TX border, I'll bet you're right. It's actually quite a pretty drive on the two-lanes between Shawnee and Lake Texoma, and then the 40 or 50 miles on the TX side. After getting lost on the freeways of Dallas for two hours, I won't be venturing any closer to the DFW Metro area in the foreseeable future. As big as Texas is, I can't think of a GOOD reason so many people should be "living" so close together. ;D

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

To be honest, JamaGenee, I would expect bluebonnets to be found into Oklahoma....but....I know you'll find them along the highways around Dallas/Ft. Worth. BTW...I'm only about 3 hrs from the OK/TX border. In fact, I was just there back in November. Me, two aunts, a cousin, and my mother took off about 4 pm for an overnight girls night out gambling trip to the border. :)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

KCC, I've been meaning to stop by and ask how far south would I have to go to see the bluebells this spring. I moved to central OK a year ago but Life (and that gawdawful heat wave) kept getting in the way of doing anything "fun". Keeping my fingers crossed that 2012 will be better, and since I'm only an hour and a half from the OK-TX border, seeing the bluebells in bloom is definitely on my "to-do" list. ;D

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Huntgoddess.....yes, I agree that many people seem to think Jack and Rose were real and yes, what I'm saying is that the fictional character of Rose was modeled after the very real Beatrice Wood. The very real Beatrice Wood had nothing to do with the Titanic.

Thank you so much, JamaGenee! I haven't seen you in ages! I hope you're doing well!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Great hub, KCC! I had no idea either that the character of Rose was based on a real person named Beatrice Wood. Thanks for a wonderful mini-bio about her. And yes, her two great-nephews *should* write a book! ;D

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

But, apparently Beatrice Wood was not actually ON the Titanic??

I don't see anything indicating any connection between Beatrice Wood and the Titanic. I think what you're saying here is that James Cameron modeled the FICTIONAL character of Rose after Beatrice Wood.

Part of the fictional story in the movie is that this fictional character was on the real Titanic.

Some readers seem to have the mistaken impression that the story of Rose and Jack is true.

I've never seen the movie, and I never will see it. I've read something very horrible about the exploitation of the extras in this movie.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

In English Debora said..."I really like Rose and I hope that you're alive * crying *".

rex legaspi 4 years ago

i like the titanic specially rose and jack

i have a drawing like the ship i want to improve my

drawing us will us popular in the other people that's

all thank you.?

jack 4 years ago

i was dead in titanic

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

LOL...small world, huh? You guys should write a book about her.

jeffkwood 5 years ago

Robert is my brother - I rushed through the comments and missed that. She is fascinating.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thank you for sharing your personal experience, Jeff K Wood! As I mentioned when another great nephew of hers commented further up, I am very envious of you for having the opportunity to have met her and even more envious for you being related to her. She still remains as the most fascinating person I've read about.

jeffkwood 5 years ago

A visit to Beatrice used to be a scary and wonderful thing. I first meet her in the early 50’s at her first home in Ojai. We had to wear our best clothes and be on our best behavior and we could never, ever, touch anything. She did have the coolest pond with gold fish and that was the first thing we went to when finally allowed outside (about ½ hour after arriving - to get us out of the way). We always had a meal – she was a vegetarian and the only thing I remember about the meals was she had the best ice cream. Beatrice is my great Aunt and I miss her candidness and humor. The last time I visited her she had just turned 100 I think.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

As many times as I've watched the movie, it still makes me tear up. :)

Teresa 5 years ago

the titanic movie made me cry, and now i hope Rose is with jack right now since she passed away :)

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Glad you enjoyed it and it held your attention, David! Thanks for stopping by!

David99999 5 years ago

Great hub! It kept me glued, from start to finish! Cool story... Well written! Two thumbs up!

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thank you, Robert! You have no idea how many times my daughter and I discuss Beatrice and always end our conversation with "wow, I sure wish we could have met her". She is probably the most intriguing person I've ever read about. You are so fortunate to have personally known her and doubly blessed to have been related. Thank you for sharing the "butt" story....that's so priceless....and so very much how I perceived her to be.

Robert Wood 5 years ago

I want to tell you how fasinated I was with the video of Beatrice Wood. I have seen many but I think this captured her the way I know her best. She is my Great Aunt. I was very fortunate to be part of her life. From the time I was young I was in love with her and her work. I last saw Beatrice on her 105th birthday. We were in her bedroom and on the wall next to her bed were 2 postcards with naked men looking over their shoulders. Which one did I think had the best butt, she asked. How could you pick they all had great butts. 12 days later her spirit left this earthly place. She is always with us.I do miss being with her. She was a very special person. What a great experince. Thank you for the information so more can enjoy the gift of Beatrice Wood. Robert Wood

Garnetbird 5 years ago

Excellent Hub-I am studying premonitions of doom from person on the Titanic.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thank you Windsweptplains!

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Windsweptplains 6 years ago from The windsweptplains of Colorado

A fantastic, informative hub! Thanks so much for sharing.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thank you so very much for your compliments Ben. I am very pleased that I was able to introduce you to Beatrice. Thank you also for sharing her with others.

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

I disagree with you KCC, you did do Beatrice Wood justice in your abbreviated bio here. I think she would agree. I didn't even realize that Cameron's character was based on a real human being! So you did that! What's more, you have directed me and everyone else to a wealth of other information! So you did that too. I think from the little I know about Ms. Wood, she would be proud to be enshrined in your article. I still can't get over that she dated Marcel Duchamp! The notorious urinal Dadaist! Bizarre but intriguing all the same. I'm going to share your article with my Facebook crowd, I rarely do, but your words and knowledge on Ms. Wood should be spread! Well done!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Wasn't she a wonderful woman? I would have loved to have met her. Thank you for watching the video and reading the hub. She was such a joy to get to know. Thank you for the lovely compliment. :)

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jaybojas 6 years ago

wow, wonderful hub. I love the video. thanks for the behind the scene clip. love the ending too. She's an amazing women and you too.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

I think you understood it, but in case I may have inadvertently misled anyone, it's important to note that it is my understanding that James Cameron already had a character profile in mind for the fictional Rose, but once he learned of Beatrice Wood, it allowed him to model her more after her. Not that Beatrice was in anyway affiliated with the Titanic (although she easily could have been based on her age and her overseas traveling).

Thanks for stopping by EverythingMouse!

EverythingMouse profile image

EverythingMouse 7 years ago

What a really excellent hub. I did wonder if the character of Rose was based on an actual person but have to admit I always assumed she probably wasn't. It is good to hear that I was wrong!

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

You're most welcome, Alekhouse! Beatrice is one of a kind.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

What an interesting and compelling woman. I loved the videos. Thanks for a peek inside her life.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

I'm sure you can also see how much James Cameron modeled Rose after her and why! I'm glad you watched it all AIDY.

Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

Finished the movie! Wow. Again, I loved this hub! Ms. Wood was an excellent choice!

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

I'm glad you enjoyed her too, Emohealer! I so wish I could have met her in person! I'm glad you appreciate what I'm attempting to do by sharing people that I find interesting in hopes that others will too.

emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina

Wow! I became so absorbed in reading every word. What an amazing woman , thank you so much for the links to learn more. I hope they read as well as your works. Thank you so much as you find and present amazing people so eloquently.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

Isn't she just adorable, AIDY? I don't see how anyone couldn't fall in love with her. Such a dynamic, creative, tell-it-like-it-is kind of a lady. Then, to live to 105 to boot! Another thing I meant to emphasize even more is...she wrote her first book in her 80s!!!! That should be inspiration to the rest of us!

Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

This is a freaking awesome hub! I fell in love with Ms. Wood. I hope to aspire to her life's' experiences by the time if I am fortunate, to be her age. BRAVO! I enjoyed the read and the video's that accompanied. I will return to watch the rest of the video. I have 30 minutes left =]

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks Dohn! Did you remember to add the Texas drawl? LOL I have been told I write like I talk, but I haven't yet decided if that is a compliment or not. LOL I should add those Titanic facts to my Titanic trivia hub!

Thanks for stopping by!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

What a great story and tribute! You are a great storyteller, Big Country. I could almost hear your voice while reading this (despite the fact I have yet to hear it!) Did you know that Titanic is the highest grossing movie of all time, at $1.8 billion? It's also the #1 movie in Japan! Thanks.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks Raggits! I've been a Titanic nut for a long time (not just the movie) and I had no idea about Beatrice Wood until just recently when I was trying to add some Titanic trivia to my trivia hub. I immediately fell in love with her. Once you watch some of the videos of Beatrice you'll see how much the older Rose was like her.

MM, There is so much more to her life and her loves and her art that I didn't go into, just because it is so complex, but she was incredibly spunky for 100+. It is so sad that she died only days after they were there. There is a picture of her with James Cameron and Gloria Stuart on Beatrice's website. She looks well.

Thank you both for stopping by!

Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Very, very interesting! I love the ending -- good for her for refusing to see a sad movie at her age!

Raggits 7 years ago

Good hub! I often wondered if there was any reality to the movie. I enjoyed DiCaprio and Winslet as the star crossed lovers. Keep it up.

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