News Lusitania 100

Sunday 4 December 2016

The 'Muirgheis' composer, the theatre producer, the fashion designer and the businessmen

Published 25/04/2015 | 02:00

Dustin Hoffman as Charles Frohman, alongside Johnny Depp, in 'Finding Neverland'.
Dustin Hoffman as Charles Frohman, alongside Johnny Depp, in 'Finding Neverland'.
American millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who perished on the Lusitania.
American theatre producer Charles Frohman died on the Lusitania.

WHILE the 1,200 victims were widely mourned, there were several whose deaths attracted more media coverage because of who they were and what they had achieved in life.

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Sir Hugh Lane was the most notable of the Irish victims, being Director of the National Gallery of Ireland and well-known for his philanthropy in artistic circles.

Kerryman Thomas O'Brien Butler (53) was best known as the composer of the Irish language opera Muirgheis which he wrote in India and first saw staged in 1903. His other work that is still remembered includes Irish Sonata (1904) for violin and piano, and the song 'Kincora' from the Seven Original Irish Melodies (1903).

The American media made much of the presence of the millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (37), who had become notorious when his wife filed for divorce citing adultery with the wife of the Cuban attaché, Agnes O'Brien Ruiz, who then took her own life.

Ironically, Vanderbilt had decided at the last minute not to travel to the US on the SS Titanic in 1912. He was last seen on the Lusitania handing his lifejacket to a woman and baby. His body was never recovered.

Another well-known victim was the powerful theatre producer Charles Frohman (58), who was travelling to check out the latest West End shows in London.

Frohman first produced JM Barrie's Peter Pan show - in the 2004 movie Finding Neverland his character was played by Dustin Hoffman.

Fashion designer Carrie Kennedy was travelling with her actress sister, Kate Hickson, to check out the latest designs in Paris. Both women died on the ship, and their wardrobe and jewellery valued at $14,000 ($328,000 today) was also lost.

Several businessmen died, including Arthur Adams, president of the US Rubber Company, and steamship magnate Paul Crompton, who died with his wife Gladys and their six children, as well as their nanny.

At least three published writers died, including English-born American playwright and actor Charles Klein; the American writer Justus Miles Forman; and Basil Maturin, an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism.

Irish Independent

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