08 March 2011

Sleeping Beauties

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Footage from British Pathe, March 11, 1935:


"Sleeping Beauties" Of Maritime Social Set Piling Up Charges

New York, March 7, (AP)--Three "sleeping beauties" of the barnacled maritime social set representing more than $100,000,000 in Allied merchant tonnage, drowsed side by side tonight under a heavy and presumably inviolate guard.

The protection thrown over them as gargantuan refugees from the horrors of war was tightened upon the arrival of the new British liner Queen Elizabeth.

[The Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Normandie] sleep in peace, though, at Pier 90 in the North River, nosed into neutrality "for the duration"--and obviously out of the oceanic "carriage trade" for some time to come.

You have less chance of getting aboard any of the three than you have of getting a bid to the coming-out party a year or so hence for Gloria Vanderbilt. Unless you have official business aboard--and there isn't any--or bona fide credentials signed by persons bearing such names as Churchill, Chamberlain and Daladier, it's no go. Sorry, you can't go aboard. You can't even get near the pier. You can't do anything except keep walking right on down under the West Side elevated highway. Get along, now. No loitering.

...but suppose you do get on the pier and up the gangplank. A peep-hole remindful of the old speakeasy days slides back and if the eye sees your companion is a part of the ship's company and you have papers bearing the proper seals and such the hatch swings open.

The inside isn't pretty. Paintings--and a good part of the Normandie's $60,000,000 cost went for art works--are covered, furnishings are stowed away and it smells musty.

The skeleton maintenance crews eat in and keep up steam to give the engines occasional turnovers. The crews go out when off duty to the bars along 10th and 11th avenues. They talk of war, naturally, in the bars, and argue somewhat more amiably than formerly over the relative merits of their respective ships.

- The Palm Beach Post, March 8, 1940

On March 8, 1950 The Washington Observer reported on the arrival of British-born actress Greer Garson in New York aboard the Queen Mary. She was on her way to Hollywood to film a new picture.

After being guests of the British government at a Robert Browning commemoration in Westminster Abbey, Fatty Arbuckle's former wife, Minta Durfee, 74, and Flobelle St. John, 65, widow of Arbuckle's slap-stick comic nephew, Al St. John, "were sent home from a 'triumphal tour' of France and Britain in a 1st class cabin of the Queen Mary as guests of the Cunard Line," according to The Evening Independent on March 12, 1964. Minta Durfee was Charlie Chaplin's leading lady in his first film.


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