John Jacob Astor, IV

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John Jacob Astor, IV

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York, United States
Death: Died in At Sea - Titanic Casualty
Cause of death: RMS Titanic
Place of Burial: New York, NY, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of William Backhouse Astor Jr. and Catherine Webster Schermerhorn
Husband of Madeleine Talmage Astor
Ex-husband of Ava Lowle Astor and Lady Ava Lowle Astor - Ribblesdale
Father of William Vincent Astor; Ava Alice Muriel Astor and John Jacob Astor VI
Brother of Emily Van Alen; Charlotte Augusta Haig; Helen Schermerhorn Astor and Caroline Schermerhorn Wilson

Occupation: Lieut. Col. during Spanish American War (1898); Died aboard the RMS Titanic; Developer of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel; Inventor, Writier, Inventor, Realtor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Jacob Astor, IV

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Jacob_Astor_IV

John Jacob Astor IV (July 13, 1864 – April 15, 1912) was an American millionaire businessman, real estate builder, inventor, writer, a member of the prominent Astor family and a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War. He died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

John Jacob Astor IV was born on July 13, 1864. John Jacob IV was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor whose fortune, made in opium, fur trade and real estate, made the Astor family one of the wealthiest families in the United States.

Astor attended St Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and later attended Harvard University.

In 1891, John Jacob Astor married Ava Lowle Willing. The couple had two children - William Vincent Astor, born in 1891 and Ava Alice Muriel Astor, born in 1902 - before their divorce in 1909. Ava Astor reportedly had an affair during their marriage which resulted in the birth of daughter Ava. Since no evidence had been found to support the claim it is assumed that Ava Alice was fathered by Colonel Astor. Since divorce was considered a scandal back then, all in Society were shocked when Colonel Astor announced that he would marry again.

At the age of 47, the divorced John Jacob Astor married an 18-year-old woman named Madeleine Talmage Force on September 9, 1911 in his mother's ballroom at Beechwood, the family's Newport, Rhode Island home. Madeleine was a year younger than Colonel Astor's son Vincent. The couple took an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt to wait for the scandalous gossip to calm down. Among the few Americans of the socialite class who did not spurn him at this time was Margaret Brown, later fictionalized as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". She accompanied the Astors to Egypt and France and, by coincidence, was called home to the U.S. at the same time the Astors also found it necessary to abbreviate their touring.

Among John Jacob Astor's accomplishments was A Journey in Other Worlds, a 1894 science fiction novel titled about a fictional account of life in the year 2088 on the planets Saturn and Jupiter. He also patented several inventions, including a bicycle brake in 1898, a "vibratory disintegrator" used to produce gas from peat moss, a pneumatic road–improver, and helped develop a turbine engine.

Astor made millions in real estate. In 1897, Astor built the Astoria Hotel, "the world’s most luxurious hotel", which adjoined Colonel Astor’s cousin, William Waldorf Astor's, Waldorf Hotel in New York City; the complex became known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, coincidentally becoming the host location to the US inquiries into the sinking of the RMS Titanic, in which Astor was killed.

In 1898 Astor was appointed a lieutenant colonel of a U.S. volunteers battalion he financed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. During this time he allowed his yacht, the Nourmahal, to be used by the U.S. government. During the war, Colonel Astor appeared in the films President McKinley's Inspection of Camp Wikoff in 1898 and Col. John Jacob Astor, Staff and Veterans of the Spanish–American War in 1899.

His estate "Ferncliff", lately called "Astor Courts", north of the town center of Rhinebeck, New York, with a mile and a half of Hudson river frontage in the picturesque Lower Hudson River Valley, had been purchased piecemeal by his father in the mid-19th century; Astor was born there. His father's Italianate house of 1864 was partly rebuilt in 1904 to designs by Stanford White, of McKim, Mead, and White, retaining its conservative exterior, and a sports pavilion in Louis XVI style was added; the "Casino" or "Astor Courts" reportedly housed the first residential indoor swimming pool in the US, an indoor tennis court with vaulting of Guastavino tile and guest bedrooms; in the lower level were a bowling alley and a shooting range. Currently, the estate, reduced to 50 acres and renamed "Astor Courts", is a wedding venue. The wedding of Chelsea Clinton took place there, 31 July 2010.

Aboard the Titanic:

While traveling Madeleine became pregnant, and wanting the child born in the United States, the Astors boarded the RMS Titanic as first-class passengers in Cherbourg, France together with Colonel Astor's valet Victor Robbins, Madeleine's maid Rosalie Bidois and nurse Caroline Louise Endres. They also took their pet Airedale named Kitty. Astor was the wealthiest passenger on board the Titanic.

A short while after the initial crash, Colonel Astor remarked to his wife that the ship had hit an iceberg. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious.

Later, the Astors sat on the mechanical horses in the gymnasium. They wore their lifebelts but Colonel Astor had found another and cut the lining with a pen knife to show his skeptical wife what it was made of (it was presumed Madeleine was wary of the fragile lifebelts). When Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4, Astor helped his wife with her maid and nurse to board lifeboat 4 and then asked if he might join her because she was in 'a delicate condition'. Lightoller told him that men are not allowed to enter until all the women had been loaded. Astor stood back and just asked Lightoller which boat it was. After boat 4 was lowered at 1:55, Colonel Astor stood alone while others tried to free the remaining collapsible boats.

Astor was seen on the starboard wing bridge. But his whereabouts after that are unknown. His body was later recovered by the steamer Mackay-Bennett on April 22 not far from the sinking. Reports persist that his body was recovered in a mangled state, but all who examined his body maintained that it was in perfect condition with no bruising.

NO. 124 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE 50 - LIGHT HAIR & MOUSTACHE.

CLOTHING - Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with "A.V."; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; "J.J.A." on back of collar.

EFFECTS - Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.

FIRST CLASS. NAME- J.J. ASTOR

Madeleine, her nurse and her maid survived while Astor's valet died.

It was reported by a young immigrant survivor (Louis Garrett) that as the last lifeboat was being loaded, a middle-aged gentleman was with his very young, pregnant wife. He helped her into the lifeboat, then looked back to the deck and saw others wanting to get aboard. He kissed his wife goodbye, and, returning to the deck, grabbed the first person in his path. Fortunately, the young boy Louis Garrett(12 years old at the time) was there in the right place at the right time and was put into the lifeboat. Many newspaper stories were written that told how John Jacob Astor gave up his life for a young immigrant whose name was Louis. The Astor family records indicate that, according to Mrs. Astor, Mr. Astor had words with a crewman who tried to prevent him from helping his wife into the lifeboat. He did so anyway. And, he kissed his wife and, returning to the deck, began helping others into the lifeboat.

Astor was identified by the initials sewn on the label of his jacket. Among the items found on him was a gold pocket watch which his son, Vincent, claimed and wore the rest of his life. Astor was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. On August 14, 1912, Madeleine Astor gave birth to his second son, John Jacob Astor VI.

John Jacob Astor's prominence led to the creation of many exaggerated and unsubstantiated accounts about his actions during the sinking of the Titanic. One story alleges that he opened Titanic's kennel and released the dogs; in another, he placed a woman's hat on a boy to make sure the child was able to get into a lifeboat. Another legend claims that after the ship hit the iceberg, he quipped, "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous." These stories appeared in newspapers, magazines, and even books about the sinking. In reality, none of the claims about Astor's actions were substantiated, as nobody who recognized him survived other than the women who boarded lifeboats relatively early on. Wade wrote that the ice joke is almost certainly apocryphal, as Astor was not known for making jokes, and that the story about the hat (like many other 'survivor stories' published shortly after the sinking) may have been invented by the reporter from whole cloth.

However, Louis Garrett Born 1900 on Hakoor, Lebonan, eyewitness account stated: “What a sight! Most of the lifeboats were gone. The crew was permitting women and children only to board the lifeboats—there were not enough for everyone. We saw women crying, not wanting to leave their husbands; husbands begging their wives and children to hurry and get into the lifeboats. Amid this complete pandemonium and mass hysteria stood my sister and I, two immigrant children, unable to speak English, frightened beyond belief, crying and looking for help. The last lifeboat was being loaded. A middle-aged gentleman was with his very young, pregnant wife. He helped her into the lifeboat, then looked back to the deck and saw others wanting to get aboard. He kissed his wife good-bye, and, returning to the deck, grabbed the first person in his path. Fortunately, I was there in the right place at the right time and he put me into the lifeboat. I screamed for my sister who had frozen from fright. With the help of others, she also was pushed into the lifeboat. Who was the gallant man who performed this kind act? We were told he was John Jacob Astor IV. At that time he was 45 years old and his wife, Madeleine, was 19. They were traveling to the United States because they wanted their child to be born there. Many newspaper stories were written that told how John Jacob Astor gave up his life for a young immigrant. The Astor family records indicate that, according to Mrs. Astor, Mr. Astor had words with a crewman who tried to prevent him from helping his wife into the lifeboat. He did so anyway. And, as I said, he kissed her and, returning to the deck, began helping others into the lifeboat."

Astor's fame has made him a frequent character in films about Titanic. German actor Karl Schönböck played Astor in the 1943 Nazi propaganda film Titanic. William Johnstone also played Astor in the 1953 film Titanic, and in the 1997 version of Titanic he was played by Eric Braeden, who was cast in the role due to a strong resemblance to Astor. In the 1997 film, he is killed when the Grand Staircase's dome breaks, flooding the entire room. In the 1996 miniseries, he was played by Scott Hylands. Astor was also portrayed by David Janssen in the 1979 film S.O.S. Titanic.

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John Jacob Astor, IV's Timeline

1864
July 13, 1864
Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York, United States
1891
February 1891
Age 26
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
November 15, 1891
Age 27
New York, NY, USA
1902
February 1902
Age 37
1910
March 5, 1910
Age 45
New York, New York, New York, United States
1911
September 9, 1911
Age 47
Beechwood, 580 Bellevue Ave., Nerwport, RI
1912
April 15, 1912
Age 47
At Sea - Titanic Casualty
August 14, 1912
Age 47
840 Fifth Ave., New York, NY
1912
Age 47
New York, NY, USA
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