More than 1,500 people died when the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic in April 1912. The ocean liner's passengers included some of the world’s rich and famous -- such as Benjamin Guggenheim, who made a fortune in silver mining, and John Jacob Astor IV, thought to be one of the world's richest men at that time. After the tragedy, thousands of people came forward to say that they had miraculously missed the boat for various fortuitous reasons. The verified list of close calls included legendary 74-year-old financier J.P. Morgan and chocolate baron Milton Hershey.
Not their day to sink:
- Only 705 of the 2,224 people on board the luxury liner survived. Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, whose wireless telegraphy helped save lives during the disaster, had been offered free passage on the Titanic, but he took an earlier ship instead.
- American novelist Theodore Dreiser, whose best-known works include Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy, considered booking passage on the “unsinkable” ship’s maiden voyage, but decided on a less expensive ship instead.
- Another man of means, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I, changed his plans “because so many things can go wrong on a maiden voyage.” Three years later, he died aboard the RMS Lusitania when it was hit by German torpedoes off the coast of Ireland.