30 September 2009

In the Flamenco Room

Formerly the tourist class main lounge, this is how the room appeared in 1967:

28 September 2009

Clean Landing

Beryl Markham disembarking in Southampton on this day in 1936. Mayor Alderman Saunders is behind her.


27 September 2009

The Soloist

On this day in 1936, British-born aviator Beryl Markham was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on her way to England after flying solo east-to-west across the Atlantic. She was the first woman to do so, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop.

Markham, a horse-trainer in Kenya where she was raised from the age of four, was a friend of Karen Blixen, aka Isak Dinesen, and appeared in her memoir, Out of Africa, as the tomboy, Felicity.

She is pictured shipboard upon her arrival in Southampton.


26 September 2009

Pleased to Name this Ship

The R.M.S. Queen Mary was launched on this day in 1934.

Canberra Times

25 September 2009

Where's Your Brolly?

From the "Flashes of Life" section of the Kentucky New Era Newspaper on this day in 1939:

By the Associated Press

New York - George McCoy, who conducts a local man-in-the-street radio program, thought one man in the street was tossing him a curve when he gave his name as "Neville Chamberlain."

But the man produced papers attesting he was the sergeant-at-arms on the liner Queen Mary, and that his name really was Neville Chamberlain.

"Well," said McCoy, daunted only slightly, "where's your umbrella?"

(Chamberlain was nicknamed "Umbrella Man" because he was usually seen carrying one. Cartoonists often even portrayed him as an umbrella).


24 September 2009

Being Somerset

Aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on this day in 1950: W. Somerset Maugham, on his way to New York for the motion picture premiere of "Trio" based on three of his stories.


23 September 2009


On this day in 1949, Senior Second Officer W.E. Stark died aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after accidentally drinking tetrachloride. The cleaning fluid, kept in a liquor bottle behind the bar, was mistaken for alcohol and was accidentally served by an off-duty crew member to the senior second officer. Stark was buried at sea.

22 September 2009

Farewell, Dowager of the Sea

From the Victoria Advocate on this day in 1967:

Proud Old Sea Queen Leaves NYC Last Time

NEW YORK (AP) - The Queen Mary, once proudest of her breed, eased out of her 52nd Street pier and rode a harbor tide toward the Atlantic and into history Friday. It was her final departure from New York.

"She's a beauty - I hate to see her go," said Victor Rapp, who is studying to be a ship's officer, as he watched from a tugboat.

In 31 years on the high seas, the Queen Mary carried more than two million persons through weather fair and foul, in war and peace, more of them Americans than any other nationality.

This may have been in Mayor John V. Lindsay's mind when he said at a shipboard ceremony shortly before she left: "You don't have to be British to love the Queen Mary."

Beneath a blue sky pillowed with white clouds, the three-funneled liner, symbol of a vanishing era, was saluted by a mile long flotilla of harbor craft, their horns blaring in throaty adieu.

Thousands of persons in skyscraper windows and massed at the Battery waved good-bye to the 81,000-ton queen, second only in size to her younger sister, the Queen Elizabeth.

From her decks, 1,500 passengers waved back. And with grace and majesty, the old ship returned the honors with the deep bass of her steam whistles. She also saluted the Statue of Liberty for the last time. Then, as the impressive skyline of Lower Manhattan dropped down behind her, the Queen Mary blasted a last farewell - and was gone.

A dowager empress of the sea, the Mary's voyage is her 1,000th Atlantic crossing. Next month she sails from England around Cape Horn to Long Beach, Calif., to serve as a floating hotel and museum. Transatlantic jets made her outmoded, and she has been losing $2 million a year.

At her final California berth, she will be far removed from the North Atlantic sea lanes, where she survived fire, mines, gales, collisions, and once a wave so huge it nearly capsized her, all eight decks and 1,019 feet of her.

21 September 2009

Garbo Chats

On this day in 1953, Greta Garbo and companion George Schlee arrived in New York aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary.

They are pictured here talking to customs agents after disembarking.

20 September 2009

Inspector Ike

On this day in 1946, Army Chief of Staff Dwight D. Eisenhower boarded the R.M.S. Queen Mary at Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a trip to Europe where he would confer with military leaders and inspect American forces stationed there. He would also visit King George VI and Queen Elizabeth while in England.

19 September 2009

End of the Line

On this day in 1967, the R.M.S. Queen Mary, after 1,001 transatlantic crossings, retired from service as a regular passenger ship.

James Steele: Queen Mary

18 September 2009

The Force was With Him

On this day in 1964, Sir Alec Guiness departed New York for England aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after a Tony award-winning performance as Dylan Thomas in the play "Dylan" which had closed the previous Saturday.

It would be another decade before he would teach Luke to use the force.

The Age

17 September 2009

Beginning of the End

On this day in 1967, the Queen Mary was a day into her last voyage from Southampton to New York. Upon her return to England, she would begin the journey that would take her around Cape Horn and end in Long Beach, California, where she is still moored today.

16 September 2009

Gathering Clouds

On this day in 1939

the Normandie and the Queen Mary await orders in New York Harbor.


Steve Harding: Gray Ghost: The Queen Mary at War

15 September 2009


On this day in Trincomalee, Ceylon, 1941, the Queen Mary (left) and the Queen Elizabeth (right), comprised convoy US.12A, transporting Australian troops to the Middle East. The Queen Mary, aka Gray Ghost, is refuelling. This picture was taken from the cruiser HMAS Canberra.

Australian Naval Historical Collection

Copyright expired

14 September 2009

Ship to Shore Scientist

On this day in 1962, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, developer of the live-virus oral polio vaccine, was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. At that time, the U.S. government was expected to announce whether or not widespread vaccinations should continue in light of outbreaks in Canada among those who received inoculation. Sabin's advice, given shipboard via radio-telephone to the Associated Press and other organizations, was to "intensify" vaccinations. He pointed out that many of the stories regarding inoculations resulting in polio were false, and that people who had already contracted the disease and then were vaccinated would not have been helped. He told the San Francisco K.O. Polio Program,"no vaccine can prevent polio in those already infected."

Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg, VA

13 September 2009

Bad Girls Go Everywhere Else

On this day in 1947, Mae West was headed for Europe aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. She is shown here as the ship arrived in Southampton five days later.

New York Times


12 September 2009

Hiya, Queen

On this day in 1952, Red Hot Mama Sophie Tucker was half way to the United States aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. Sophie was a favorite in London music halls. Encountering King George VI at one of her performances, she greeted him with "Hiya, King!"


11 September 2009

A Boat Load

On this day in 1945, the R.M.S. Queen Mary delivered 14,441 G.I.s home to the United States.

St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, FL

10 September 2009

Merely a Mistake

On this day in 1937, Robert Oliver [pictured], a 17 year old office worker from the theatrical managers Chamberlain Brown in New York, was found aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after having been sent the day before to deliver a script to a passenger. The unwitting stowaway had taken too long to find the man he was looking for and realized too late the ship had left port. He still had the script--a play entitled "Merely Murdered" --in his possession when he was found a day into the crossing to Europe.

New York Times

Getty Images

09 September 2009

And Then There's Maude

On this day in 1936, Ruth Gordon departed for England aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. A stage actress at the time, she was set to appear in the play "The Country Wife" at the Old Vic in London.

Gordon began her acting career as an extra in 1915 and ended it as a lead in Harold and Maude in 1971.


08 September 2009

Calling Him Home

On this day in 1953, Reverend Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, arrived in New York aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after spending time abroad. He made it home just in time--five days later he would officiate at the marriage of John F. Kennedy to Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island.


07 September 2009

Actress Onboard

On this day in 1936, actress Madeleine Carroll arrived in New York aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after vacationing in England. The previous year Ms. Carroll appeared in the classic British Alfred Hitchcock film, The 39 Steps, with Robert Donat.


06 September 2009

Heiress Onboard

On this day in 1937, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton (known in the press as the "Poor Little Rich Girl" due to her many travails) arrived in New York aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary with her second husband, Count Haugwitz Von Reventlow, who's expression in this shipboard photograph reflects his winning personality. Hutton's relationship with the Danish count left her anorexic, addicted to drugs, and hospitalized due to a severe beating at his hands.
Months after this picture was taken, she denounced her American citizenship at his urging in order to become a citizen of Denmark. The marriage lasted a total of three years. Hutton would subsequently marry another five times, once to Cary Grant.


05 September 2009

Life with Liz

On this day in 1947, Elizabeth Taylor and her two poodles were aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary heading home to America.

She is pictured her walking her best friends before returning them to their kennel accomodations on sports deck.

Her picture, Life with Father, was released the previous month.

Getty Images

04 September 2009

A New Reality

On this day in 1939, these sailors aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary were reading the newspaper with some trepidation...

...while these relieved people (most of the Mary's record number 2,331 passengers) were waiting in line to be cleared by customs after the ship docked safely in New York.


03 September 2009

A Few Minutes to Forget

On this day in 1939, England and France declared war on Germany. At the time, Bob Hope and his wife Dolores were aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary with over 2,000 other passengers on their way home to the United States. All were informed of developments in Europe that morning; Dolores was just returning from mass. She told her husband, "...you ought to see what's going on up in the salon. People are sobbing. One woman stopped me and said that there are German submarines waiting for orders to sink this boat. They've issued blackout instructions...people are scared."

Hope, who was supposed to entertain that night, now wasn't sure the show should go on. The captain, however, felt the best thing for everyone's morale was a little comedy. So Hope spent the afternoon putting together a routine and altering the lyrics to his theme song.

Onstage that evening, he admitted to the audience his reluctance to give the concert, but that he'd been convinced by the captain and others that it wasn't inappropriate. He said, "Maybe--just maybe they're right. It might help if all of us here try for a few minutes to forget the tragedy that faces the world and have some fun."

Performing his regular vaudeville act, he was onstage for an hour, closing with his theme song's new lyrics:

Thanks for the memory
Of this great ocean trip
On Enlgand's finest ship.
Tho' they packed them in the rafters
They never made a slip.
Ah! Thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
Some folks slept on the floor,
Some in the corridor;
But I was more exclusive,
My room had GENTLEMEN above the door,
Ah! Thank you so much.

The salon, packed to capacity, awarded him with rioutous laughter and applause. Afterwards, the captain asked for a copy of the song for the ship's log. He also sent a copy to the ship's printing press so that each passenger received one when the Queen Mary docked in New York.

Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy by William Robert Faith

02 September 2009

Stowed Away

On this day in 1952, British officials refused 18 year old Patricia Kaskel permission to disembark from the R.M.S. Queen Mary when the ship arrived in Southampton. Miss Kaskel of Hollywood, California, had stowed away when the ship departed New York and was discovered before docking in England. She returned to the United States a paying passenger after her parents cabled her the fare.

New York Times
Los Angeles Times

01 September 2009

A Bigger Boat

On this day in 1965, Robert Manry arrived in New York after a 5 1/2 day voyage across the Atlantic aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. The trip was undoubtedly much more relaxing -- and probably more boring -- than his initial trip to England. On June 1, Manry had left Falmouth, Massachussets, aboard his own 13 1/2 foot sail boat, Tinkerbelle, sailing for 78 days non-stop to Cornwall (he went too far south and missed landing at Bishop Rock). At the time, Tinkerbelle was the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic.