Monday 19 November 2018

'Titanic' director and cast are asked to help ship's last survivor

ALISON O'RIORDAN

An Irish author and photographer, Don Mullan, is challenging the director and cast of the 1997 film Titanic to take care of the last living link to the 1912 maritime tragedy.

Millvina Dean, at just nine weeks old, was the youngest passenger to be carried into the third class accommodation on the ship.

Her father perished after saving his wife, young son and baby daughter and his body was never recovered.

And with the 100th anniversary of the tragedy approaching in 2012 Mullan believes this lady should never again have to be concerned about how she will pay her nursing home bills especially after the box office hit grossed $1.8 billion (€1.35 billion) worldwide.

"If we cannot take care of this gracious and very special lady, now in her 98th year, then all our concern about the Titanic is but a sham. Millvina Dean must be allowed to live out the remainder of her days without any worry or concern about meeting the costs of her welfare.''

"There are people including director James Cameron and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and Canadian singer Celine Dion who have made enormous profits from the Titanic story and I believe they can and, morally, should help," said Mr Mullan.

For the past two years Don Mullan has been working on a project to take photographs around the world on his Nokia mobile phone. One of his images is a closeup of Millvina Dean's hands as she signs an autograph for a memorabilia collector.

As part of Mullan's mobile telephone exhibition, he has produced 100 limited-edition copies of the photograph titled Still Surviving and Ms Dean has agreed to sign each one. Mr Mullan is selling them for €500 each, with all proceeds going to help cover her nursing-home expenses.

"When my children showed me how to take pictures on my mobile phone, I was impressed at the quality of the images," said Mr Mullan.

"I had committed to working on projects over the next two years (2007-2008) which would bring me to China, South Africa, Brazil, the USA and to several countries in Europe. I had the idea of recording it, not in words, but in mobile phone images," he said. "Up until two years ago Millvina was a very independent person. However, after a bad fall in which she broke a hip, she was hospitalised and then moved to a private nursing home close to where she has lived most of her life.

"Millvina never married so she has no family to take care of her. "Consequently, she must find the resources to pay the £600 plus per week to cover her nursing home bills.''

"One way she does it is by trying to sell her autograph to Titanic fans and memorabilia collectors, no easy task for someone who is so old and, quite frankly, she should not have to do this," he said.

Don is currently working on the book, The Youngest & the Last -- Titanic's Last Memoir -- The Autobiography of Millvina Dean, which is due to hit the shops by the end of the year. The exhibition A Thousand Reasons for Living is open to the public until Tuesday at Gallery One, No.1 Castle Street Dublin 2, beside Jury's Christchurch.

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