10 Unsinkable Facts About Titanic

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Titanic is one of those rare movies that wasn’t just a hit—it was a phenomenon. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, and made mega-stars out of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. But here are a few things you might not know about one of the second highest-grossing film in Hollywood history, which was released in theaters 20 years ago today.

1. THE FILM'S MOST ICONIC LINE WAS IMPROVISED.

When Leonardo DiCaprio first got up on the end of the ship, he improvised the line “I'm the king of the world!” Cameron liked the line so much that he kept it in the movie. Though the line would go on to be parodied countless times—including at the Oscars—it landed at #100 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movie quotes.

2. JACK DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE.

One question that has plagued Cameron for the past 20 years is: Did Jack really have to die? In an episode of MythBusters that examined whether both Jack and Rose could have stayed on the wooden beam without it sinking, Cameron himself came on the show to admit that the movie's dramatic ending depended on Jack dying. “If [he] lives, the movie makes a tenth as much,” quipped Cameron.

In November of this year, Cameron was still being grilled about it. Though he repeated that the decision to kill Jack was “an artistic choice,” as the movie “is about death and separation” in an interview with Vanity Fair, he still defended the means, saying he tested the floating board prop itself to gauge its buoyancy.

3. TITANIC WON 11 OSCARS—BUT NONE OF THEM FOR ACTING.

Although 87-year-old Gloria Stuart (Old Rose) was considered a lock for the Best Supporting Actress trophy, she lost to Kim Basinger for L.A. Confidential. Winslet was nominated for Best Actress but lost to Helen Hunt for As Good as It Gets. It would take Winslet another five nominations before she’d take home a statue (for The Reader in 2009).

4. KATE WINSLET LEARNED SHE HAD LANDED THE PART OF ROSE WHILE SHE WAS WEARING A STRAITJACKET.

The day Winslet learned she had landed her star-making role, she was in England filming Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh. After getting off the phone with her agent, she then went to work, which meant wearing a straitjacket to film Ophelia's famous breakdown scene.

5. A NAKED DRAWING OF WINSLET SOLD FOR THOUSANDS.

Kate Winslet in 'Titanic' (1997)
Paramount Pictures

In 2011, a company called Premiere Props auctioned off one of the movie's most iconic pieces of memorabilia: one of the drawings Jack made of Rose, who is wearing nothing but the Heart of the Ocean necklace. Although the identity of the buyer and the final price were not released publicly, the highest known bid was $16,000. The drawing was done by Cameron, not DiCaprio.

6. THE FREEZING COLD WATER WASN'T COLD AT ALL.

“The water in the tank was about 80 degrees, so it was really like a pool,” James Cameron explained of the filming of the water scenes. “All of the cold, frigid water was added later.”

7. A FAMOUS REAL COUPLE GETS A SMALL CAMEO IN THE MOVIE.

Ida and Isidor Straus, who founded Macy's, were on the Titanic and died together on the ship. They get a brief, unidentified cameo in the film as the elderly couple lying in bed together as the water washes over them. They are named in the film's credits, though: Lew Palter and Elsa Raven portrayed them.

8. AN ALTERNATE ENDING WAS FILMED.

An alternate ending of the movie was filmed in which Bill Paxton’s character finally does get to hold the Heart of the Ocean necklace in his hand, and Stuart’s character gives him a speech about making every day count.

9. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON MADE AN IMPORTANT CHANGE TO THE MOVIE.

The noted astrophysicist didn’t see Titanic until years after it was released, but he took issue with the scene where Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and looking up at the sky. He sent James Cameron “quite a snarky email” (Cameron’s description) explaining that the star field Rose saw in the movie isn't the one she would have seen in real life at that place and time. Cameron—ever the perfectionist—re-shot the scene for the 3-D edition of the movie.

10. THE FILM SET A NON-BOX OFFICE RECORD.

Because it remained in cinemas for so long, Titanic was the first movie ever released on VHS while it was still playing in theaters. Its popularity was so massive, with people lining up for repeat viewings, that some theaters reportedly had to get new film reels to replace the ones they’d worn out.

Orson Welles's Former Hollywood Hills Estate Is Taking Vacation Reservations

Fred Mott, Getty Images
Fred Mott, Getty Images

Orson Welles's former Hollywood Hills estate is a perfect place to get away from society, grow a bushy beard, and brood over a bottle of whiskey.

Interested? The late Hollywood icon's 3000-square-foot home is available to rent for about $755 a night through HomeAway. The house, which sits on its own private 15,000-square-foot knoll, was home to Welles at the very beginning of his career and is where he wrote the screenplay for 1941's Citizen Kane. Bring along your typewriter and try to channel some of his greatness.

Quite a few other celebrities have inhabited the house as well, including Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and David Bowie. Features of the grand four-bedroom mansion—built in 1928—include a lagoon pool, Jacuzzi, deck, and both canyon and city views.

There's never been a better time to rent Welles's abode: his final film, The Other Side of the Wind, is set to premiere at this month's Venice Film Festival before arriving on Netflix. The unfinished flick, which was shot intermittently between 1970 and 1976, has been completed and restored for its much-anticipated release. (Of course the mansion has plenty of TVs for your viewing pleasure.)

The property has a three- to five-night stay minimum, depending on the season. For more pictures, see below or head to HomeAway. And since you're already in vacation-planning mode, another creative celebrity abode to consider is F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's Montgomery, Alabama home, which is available to rent via Airbnb.

Orson Welles' house
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles mansion
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

Orson Welles' former home
Courtesy of HomeAway

10 Things You Might Not Know About Robert De Niro

RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images
RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images

Robert De Niro is part of the pantheon of independent-minded filmmakers who cut through Hollywood noise in the 1970s with edgier fare to create what became known as “The New Hollywood.” Following stints with Brian De Palma and Roger Corman, De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese for the first time with 1973's Mean Streets, which launched a fruitful artistic collaboration that has produced some of the best movies of the past half-century.

Even after his shift into commercial comedies like Meet the Parents, “dedication” has remained De Niro’s watchword. The two-time Oscar winner has earned Hollywood legend status with panache and bone-deep portrayals. Here are 10 facts about the filmmaker on his 75th birthday. (Yes, we’re talkin’ to you.)

1. HIS FIRST ROLE WAS IN A STAGING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ—AT AGE 10.

Robert De Niro got bit by the acting bug early. He threatened to thrash a hippopotamus from top to bottom-us as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at the tender age of 10. (This is the remake and casting the world needs right now.)

2. HE DROPPED OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL TO PURSUE ACTING.

Robert De Niro arrives at the UK premiere of epic war drama film 'The Deer Hunter', UK, 28th February 1979
John Minihan, Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

De Niro’s mother, Virginia Admiral, was a painter whose work was part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and his father, Robert De Niro, Sr., was a celebrated abstract expressionist painter. So the apple falling into drama school instead of the art studio still isn’t that far from the tree. Having already gotten a youthful dose of stage life, De Niro quit his private high school to try to become an actor. He first went to the nonprofit HB Studio before studying under Stella Adler and, later, The Actors Studio.

3. HE’S A DUAL CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES AND ITALY.

De Niro is American, Italian-American, and, as of 2004, Italian. The country bestowed honorary citizenship upon De Niro as an honor in recognition of his career, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing to the passport office. A group called the Order of the Sons of Italy in America strongly protested the Italian government’s plan due to De Niro’s frequent portrayal of negative Italian-American stereotypes.

4. HE GAINED 60 POUNDS FOR RAGING BULL.

Preparing to play the misfortune-laden boxing champ Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull required two major things from De Niro: training and gaining. For the latter, De Niro ate his way through Europe during a four-month binge of ice cream and pasta. His 60-pound-gain was dramatic enough that it concerned Martin Scorsese. It was one way to show dedication to a role, but the training element was even more impressive. De Niro got so good at boxing that when LaMotta set up several professional-level sparring bouts for the actor, De Niro won two of them.

5. HE AND MARLON BRANDO ARE THE ONLY ACTORS TO WIN OSCARS FOR PLAYING THE SAME CHARACTER.

De Niro won his first Oscar in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II, for portraying the younger version of Vito Corleone—the wizened capo played by Marlon Brando, who also won an Oscar for the role (Brando’s came in 1973, for The Godfather). No other pair of actors has managed the feat, although Jeff Bridges came close in 2010 when he was nominated for playing Rooster Cogburn in Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit (a role originated by John Wayne in Henry Hathaway’s 1969 movie of the same name). Oddly enough, Bridges was in contention for the role of Travis Bickle, the role that earned De Niro his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

6. HE DROVE A CAB TO PREPARE FOR TAXI DRIVER.

If you’re looking for commitment to a role, ask Hack #265216. De Niro got a taxicab driver’s license to study up to play Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and spent several weekends cruising around New York City picking up fares. It’s possible that having his teeth filed down for Cape Fear is the most intense transformation he’s undergone for a role, but picking up a part-time job to live the lonely life of Bickle is more humane.

7. ONE OF HIS FILMS POSTPONED ONE OF HIS OSCAR WINS.

The 53rd Academy Awards—where De Niro won for playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull—were originally scheduled for March 30, 1981 but were postponed until the following day because of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. The would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., claimed the attack was intended to impress Jodie Foster, who Hinckley grew obsessed with after watching Taxi Driver.

8. HE LAUNCHED THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal speak onstage at the 'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Premiere during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Producer Jane Rosenthal, philanthropist Craig M. Hatkoff, and De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 as a showcase for independent films that would hopefully “spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan” after the devastation of the 9/11 terror attacks. With its empire state of mind, the inaugural festival in 2002 featured a “Best of New York Series” handpicked by Martin Scorsese and drew an astonishing 150,000 attendees.

9. HE WAS ONCE INTERROGATED BY FRENCH POLICE CONCERNING A PROSTITUTION RING.

One of the most bizarre chapters in De Niro’s life came when he was publicly named in the investigation of a prostitution ring in Paris. The 1998 incident included a lengthy interrogation session (De Niro filed an official complaint) and a pile of paparazzi waiting for him when he left the prosecutor’s office. De Niro railed against the entire country, vowing to return his Legion of Honour and telling Le Monde newspaper that, "I will never return to France. I will advise my friends against going to France.” (He had cooled off enough by 2011 to act as the Cannes Film Festival’s jury president.)

10. HE LOVED THE CAT(S) IN MEET THE PARENTS.

Meet the Parents’s Mr. Jinx (Jinxy!) was played by two Himalayans named Bailey and Misha, and De Niro fell in love with them. He played with them between scenes, kept kibble in his pocket for them, and asked director Jay Roach to have Mr. Jinx in as many scenes as possible.

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