RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that became infamous for its collision with an iceberg and dramatic sinking in 1912. According to the US Senate investigation, 1,523 people perished in the accident, ranking it as one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history and by far the most famous. Titanic's design used some of the most advanced technology available at the time and the ship was popularly believed to be "unsinkable". It was a great shock that, despite the advanced technology and experienced crew, Titanic sank with a great loss of life. The media frenzy about Titanic's famous victims, the legends about what happened on board the ship, the resulting changes to maritime law, and the discovery of the wreck in 1985 by a team led by Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel have made Titanic persistently famous in the years since.


Titanic rudder and propellers

Titanic rudder and propellers


Some of the most prominent people in the world were travelling in first class. For its time, the ship was unsurpassed in its luxury and opulence. The ship offered an onboard swimming pool, gymnasium, a Turkish bath, library and squash court. First-class common rooms were ornately decorated with elaborate wood panelling, expensive furniture and other elegant decorations. Second-class and even third-class accommodation and common rooms were likewise considered as opulent as first class on many other ships of the day. The ship offered three lifts for use of first-class passengers and, as an innovation, offered one lift for second-class passengers.

Titanic was considered a pinnacle of naval architecture and technological achievement. It was thought by The Shipbuilder magazine to be "practically unsinkable". Titanic was divided into 16 compartments with doors that were held by a magnetic latch and would fall by moving a switch on the bridge; however, the watertight bulkheads did not reach the entire height of the decks. Titanic could stay afloat with any two of its compartments flooded, eleven of fourteen possible combinations of three compartments flooding or the first/last four compartments flooded; any more and the ship would sink.

The iceberg suspected of having sunk the RMS Titanic.

The iceberg suspected of having sunk the RMS Titanic.


The Disaster of the Titanic

1:45 PM - Amerika iceberg warning

On the night of Sunday, April 14, the temperature had dropped to near freezing and the ocean was completely calm. There was no moon and the sky was clear. Captain Edward Smith, perhaps in response to iceberg warnings received via wireless over the last few days, had altered Titanic's course around 10 miles (18 km) south of the normal shipping route. That Sunday at 1:45 PM, a message from the steamer Amerika warned that large icebergs lay in Titanic's path, but inexplicably, the warning was never relayed to the bridge. Later that evening, another report of numerous, large icebergs in Titanic's path, this time from the Mesaba, also failed to reach the bridge.


11:40 PM - "Iceberg, right ahead!"

At 11:40 PM while sailing south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, lookouts Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted a large iceberg directly ahead of the ship. Fleet sounded the ship's bell three times and telephoned the bridge. Sixth Officer Moody answered, "Yes, what do you see?", only to hear Fleet exclaiming, "Iceberg, right ahead!", to which Moody curiously responded, "thank you", before informing First Officer Murdoch of the call. Murdoch (who had now already seen the iceberg) ordered an abrupt turn to port (left) and full speed astern, which stopped and then reversed the ship's engines. A collision turned out to be inevitable, and the ship's starboard (right) side brushed the iceberg, buckling the hull in several places and popping out rivets below the waterline, creating a total of six leaks in the first five watertight compartments. Murdoch then ordered the ship hard right rudder which swung Titanic's stern away from the iceberg. The watertight doors were shut as water started filling the five compartments, one more than Titanic could stay afloat with. The weight of the five compartments filling with water weighed the ship down past the top of the watertight bulkheads, allowing water to flow into the other compartments. Captain Smith, alerted by the jolt of the impact, arrived on the bridge and began to assess Titanic's situation. Following an inspection by the ship's officers and Thomas Andrews, it was apparent that the Titanic would sink, and shortly after midnight on April 15, lifeboats were ordered to be readied and a distress signal sent out.


12:40 AM - First lifeboat lowered

The first lifeboat launched, boat 7, was lowered shortly after 12:40 AM on the starboard side with only 28 people on board out of a maximum capacity of 65. The Titanic carried 20 lifeboats with a total capacity of 1,178 persons for the ship's total complement of passengers and crew of 2,223. 32 lifeboats had been originally specified, but management decided the doubled-up boats spoiled the lines of the ship. Sixteen lifeboats, indicated by number, were in the davits; and four canvas-sided collapsibles, indicated by letter, stowed on the roof of the officers' quarters or on the forward Boat Deck to be launched in empty davits. While only enough space for a little more than half the passengers and crew, Titanic carried more boats than required by the British Board of Trade. At the time, the number of lifeboats required was determined by a ship's gross tonnage, rather than its human capacity. The regulations concerning lifeboat capacity had last been updated in 1894, when the largest ships afloat weighed approximately 10,000 long tons, compared to Titanic's 46,328 tons.

First and second-class passengers had easy access to the lifeboats with staircases that led right up to the boat deck, but third-class passengers found it much harder. Many found the corridors leading from the lower sections of the ship difficult to navigate and had trouble making their way up to the lifeboats. Some gates separating the third-class section of the ship from the other areas, like the one leading from the aft well deck to the second-class section, are known to have been locked. While the majority of first and second-class women and children survived the sinking, more third-class women and children were lost than saved.


Titanic reported its position as 41 46′ N, 50 14′ W. The wreck was found at 41 43′ N, 49 56′ W.

Titanic reported its position as 41 46′ N, 50 14′ W. The wreck was found at 41 43′ N, 49 56′ W.


Wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy sending out distress signals. Several ships responded, including Mount Temple, Frankfurt and Titanic's sister ship, Olympic, but none were close enough to make it in time. The closest ship to respond was Cunard Line's RMS Carpathia, and at 58 nautical miles (107 km) away it would arrive in about four hours, still too late to get to Titanic in time. Two landbased locations received the distress call from Titanic. One was the wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland, and the other was a Marconi telegraph station on top of the Wannamaker's department store in New York City.

From the bridge, the lights of a nearby ship could be seen off the port side. Since it was not responding to wireless, Fourth Officer Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe attempted signalling the ship with a Morse lamp and later with distress rockets, but the ship never appeared to respond. The SS Californian was nearby but had stopped for the night because of ice, and its wireless was turned off because the wireless operator had gone to bed for the night . Just before he went to bed at around 11:00 PM Californian's radio operator attempted to warn Titanic that there was ice ahead, but he was cut off by an exhausted Jack Phillips, who sent back, "Shut up, shut up! I am busy, I am working Cape Race." When Californian's officers first saw the ship, they tried signalling it with their Morse lamp, but also never appeared to receive a response. Later, they noticed Titanic's distress signals over the lights and informed Captain Stanley Lord. Even though there was much discussion about the mysterious ship, which to the officers on duty appeared to be moving away before disappearing, Californian did not wake its wireless operator until morning.


2:00 AM - Waterline reaches forward boat deck

At first, passengers were reluctant to leave the ostensibly safe Titanic, which showed no outward signs of being in imminent danger, and board small lifeboats. As a result, most of the boats were launched partially empty. One boat, boat number one, meant to hold 40 people, left Titanic with only 12 people on board. With "Women and children first" the imperative (see origin of phrase) for loading lifeboats. As the ship's tilt became more apparent, people started to become nervous, and some lifeboats began leaving fully loaded. Shortly after 2:00 AM the waterline had reached the forward boat deck, and all the lifeboats, save for Collapsibles A and B, had been lowered. Collapsible C was too heavy, and crashed into the water. Collapsible D was the last lifeboat to be lowered from the davits with 44 of its 47 seats filled. The total number of vacancies was close to 475.


2:10 AM - Stern rises out of water

Around 2:10 AM, the stern rose out of the water exposing the propellers and the forward boat deck was flooding. The last two lifeboats floated right off the deck, collapsible lifeboat B upside down, and collapsible lifeboat A half-filled with water. Shortly afterwards the forwardmost funnel collapsed, crushing part of the bridge and many of those struggling in the water. On deck, people were scrambling towards the stern or jumping overboard in hopes of reaching a lifeboat. The ship's stern slowly rose into the air, and everything not secured crashed towards the bow. While the stern rose, the electrical system finally failed and the lights went out.

2:20 AM - Titanic sinks

Stress on the hull caused Titanic to break apart into two large pieces, between the third and fourth funnels, and the bow section went completely under. The stern section briefly righted itself on the water before rising back up vertically. After a few moments, at, the stern section also sank into the ocean.

Of a total of 2,223 people, only 706 survived; 1,517 perished. If the lifeboats were filled to capacity 1,178 people could have been saved. Of the First Class, 199 were saved (60%) and 130 died. Of the Second Class, 119 (44%) were saved and 166 were lost. Of the Third Class, 174 were saved (25%) and 536 perished. Of the crew, 214 were saved (24%) and 685 perished. 1,347 men (80%) died, and 103 women (26%) died. 53 children (about 50%) also died. Of particular note, the entire complement of the Engineering Department, remaining at their posts to keep the ship's electrical systems running, drowned. The majority of deaths were caused by victims succumbing to hypothermia in the 28 F (−2 C) water. Out of the 16 lifeboats and 4 collapsibles launched only one came back. Another boat helped. Lifeboat 4 was close by and picked up eight crewmen, two of whom later died. Close to an hour later, Lifeboat 14, under the command of fifth officer Harold Lowe, went back and rescued four people, one of whom died afterwards. Other people managed to climb onto the two collapsible lifeboats that floated off the deck. There were some arguments in some of the other lifeboats about going back, but many survivors were afraid of being swamped by people trying to climb into the lifeboat or being pulled down by the anticipated suction from the sinking ship, though this turned out not to be severe. Only 12 people were picked up from the water.

As the ship sank into the depths, the two sections ended their final plunges very differently. The streamlined bow planed off approximately 2,000 feet (600 m) below the surface and slowed somewhat, landing relatively gently. The stern fell fairly straight down towards the ocean floor, possibly rotating as it sank, with the air trapped inside causing implosions. It was already half-crushed when it hit bottom at high speeds; the shock caused everything still loose to fall off. The bow section however, having been opened up by the iceberg, and sinking slowly, had no air left in it as it sank.


4:10 AM - Carpathia picks up first lifeboat

Survivors aboard one of the Titanic's four collapsible lifeboats. Note the canvas sides.

Survivors aboard one of the Titanic's four collapsible lifeboats. Note the canvas sides.


Almost two hours after Titanic sank, RMS Carpathia, commanded by Captain Arthur Henry Rostron, arrived on scene and picked up its first lifeboat at 4:10 AM, even though merely 10 miles away was the Californian, another ship, which had sent ice warnings to the Titanic. Over the next hours, the remainder of the survivors were rescued. As news of the disaster spread, many people were shocked that Titanic could sink with such great loss of life despite all of its technological advances.


Popular culture

The sinking of Titanic has been the basis for many novels describing fictionalised events on board the ship. Many reference books about the disaster have also been written since Titanic sank, the first of these appearing within months of the sinking. Survivors like Second Officer Charles Lightoller and passenger Jack Thayer have written books describing their experiences. Some like Walter Lord, who wrote the popular A Night to Remember, did independent research and interviews to describe the events that happened on board the ship.

Morgan Robertson's 1898 novella Futility, which was written 14 years before RMS Titanic's ill-fated voyage, was found to have many parallels with the Titanic disaster; Robertson's work concerned a fictional state-of-the-art ocean liner called Titan, which eventually collides with an iceberg on a calm April night whilst en route to New York. Most of those aboard die because of the lack of lifeboats. Both Titan itself and the manner of its demise bore many striking similarities to Titanic and its eventual fate, and Robertson's novella remains in print today as an unnerving curiosity.

Clive Cussler's 1976 Dirk Pitt novel Raise the Titanic is about raising Titanic in order to recover a mineral vital to national security. It was written before Titanic was discovered, so at the time it was considered possible to raise Titanic. It was made into a movie in 1980, which flopped at the box office. The producer Sir (later Lord) Lew Grade famously remarked "It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic!"




Titanic has featured in a large number of films and TV movies, most notably:

                                                                   Saved From the Titanic (1912)

                                                                   In Nacht und Eis (1912)

                                                                   Titanic (1915)

                                                                   Atlantic (1929)

                                                                   Titanic (1943)

                                                                   Titanic (1953)

                                                                   A Night to Remember (1958)

                                                                   S.O.S. Titanic, TV movie (1979)

                                                                   Raise the Titanic! (1980)

                                                                   Titanic, TV mini-series (1996)

                                                                   Titanic (1997)

                                                                   Doreamons Special Comic Book 7

The most widely viewed is the 1997 film Titanic, directed by James Cameron and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It became the highest-grossing film in history. It also won 11 Academy Awards, tying with Ben-Hur (1959) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) for the most awards won.

The story was also made into a Broadway musical, Titanic, written by Peter Stone with music by Maury Yeston. Titanic ran from 1998 to 2000. The 1960 Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown tells survivor Margaret Brown's life story, which included the events onboard Titanic. Interviewed following the disaster, she commented "I'm a Brown. We're unsinkable." The musical was written by Richard Morris with music by Meredith Willson. A film version starring Debbie Reynolds was released in 1964.

Gus Grissom, whose Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft sank after his 1961 flight, named his Gemini 3 spacecraft Molly Brown as a reference to the play and his hopes that his second craft would be unsinkable.

Other media include Titanic: Adventure Out of Time which was a 1996 computer game that took place on Titanic. Starship Titanic was another computer game that takes place in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe and was a parody of the Titanic disaster. Many television shows have also referenced the Titanic disaster. The show The Time Tunnel featured a visit to the ship on its first episode, a character on the British drama Upstairs, Downstairs died on Titanic, and the animated series Futurama did a parody where it had the cast boarding a spacefaring vessel called Titanic. The spaceship was torn in half by a black hole on its maiden voyage. In movies like Time Bandits and Cavalcade, Titanic has had brief appearances and in Ghostbusters 2, Titanic briefly appeared as a ghost ship. Titanic was once used in the plot of the NBC soap opera Passions, where the lovers Luis and Sheridan discovered that they were passengers on the ship in past lives (and that the witch Tabitha caused the iceberg). Also, in the animated film Osmosis Jones, a scene parodies one in the 1997 film in which a band plays while the character Frank begins to die. The band, composed of cells, says almost the exact same lines and the same song as well. Songs about the disaster include folk songs and popular music including the Polish rock group Lady Pank's song "Zostawcie Titanica" which is a plea to not disturb the wreck. Enigmatic British Indie artist The Gentleman recorded a song named 'Deckchairs on the Titanic', considered to be one of the highlights, musically and lyrically, on his album 'The Eponymous Debut Album'.

Using Titanic as humor has not been exclusive to popular entertainment. The Intel Itanium microprocessor has often been jokingly called "Itanic", since (as of 2005) its sales have fallen far short of expectations.




Leadbelly, Fare Thee Well Titanic


"It was midnight on the sea,
The band played 'Nearer my God to Thee'
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well: (repeat)

[Then some narrative about Jack Johnson being heavyweight champion of the world in 1912, going to Europe, being afraid of water and choosing the unsinkable ship, going to the dock, and being told:]

"When Jack Johnson tried to get on board,
Cap'n said 'We don't haul no coal,'
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well: (repeat)

[Then the boat leaves port, Captain Lord gets drunk and goes to his cabin, and]

"Well, Titanic came 'round a curve,
And she run into a great big iceberg,
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well: (repeat)

"It was midnight on the sea,
The band played 'nearer my God to thee,
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well, (repeat)

Then "There was lifeboats all around,
Men sayin' 'Don't let women and chillun go down,"
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well;

There was lifeboats all around,
And even unsinkable Molly Brown,
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well."

[Then the narrative describes Jack Johnson going out for a newspaper, and reading about the sinking of the Titanic, and running back to his apartment, grabbing his wife, and saying]

"When Jack Johnson heard that news,
He said Honey get me my dancing shoes,
Farewell, Titanic, fare thee well: (repeat)



Who was Jack Johnson?



John Arthur Johnson (March 31, 1878 June 10, 1946), better known as Jack Johnson and nicknamed the "Galveston Giant", was an American boxer and arguably the best heavyweight of his generation. He was the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World, 1908-1915.




Early life

Jack Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas to Henry and Tiny Johnson, former slaves, who both worked blue-collar jobs to earn enough to raise six children and teach them all how to read and write. Jack Johnson had only five years of formal schooling.


Personal life

Johnson was a renowned womaniser and had many relationships, a number of them with prostitutes and brothel-keepers. He was married three times. His first wife, Etta Duryea, committed suicide in September 1911, nine months after their wedding. Johnson quickly remarried, to Lucille Cameron; the speed of the courtship caused a scandal and their premarital relationship led to his indictment under the Mann Act and caused the couple to flee to France soon after their marriage. Lucille sued for divorce in 1924, citing her husband's adultery; he did not contest her suit. Johnson married his third wife, Irene Pineau, in 1925; she outlived him. All three of Johnson's wives were white, a fact that caused considerable controversy at the time. He had no children.

On his return to the United States in 1920, the boxer served a year in prison for his earlier violation of the Mann Act.

Johnson was an early example of the celebrity athlete, appearing regularly in the press and later on radio and in motion pictures. He earned considerable sums endorsing various products, including patent medicines, and indulged several expensive hobbies, including automobile racing and the purchase of jewellery and furs for his wives.


Boxing career

Johnson fought his first bout, a 16-round victory, at age 15. He turned professional around 1897, fighting in private clubs, and by age 18 was earning more in one night than his father earned in an entire week.

In 1901, Joe Choynski came to Galveston to train Jack Johnson. Choynski, an experienced boxer, knocked Johnson out, and the two were arrested for "engaging in an illegal contest" and put in jail for 23 days. (Although boxing was one of the three most popular sports in America at the time, along with baseball and horse-racing, the practice was officially illegal in most states, including Texas.) Choynski began training Johnson in jail.

Johnson developed a more patient style than was customary in that day: playing defensively, waiting for a mistake, and then capitalizing on it. It was very effective, but it was criticized in the press as being cowardly and devious. By 1902, Johnson had won at least 27 fights against both white and black opponents. Johnson won his first title on February 3, 1903, beating "Denver" Ed Martin over 20 rounds for the Colored Heavyweight Championship. His efforts to win the full title were thwarted as World Heavyweight Champion James J. Jeffries refused to face him. Blacks could box whites in other arenas, but the heavyweight championship was such a respected and coveted position in America that blacks were not deemed worthy to compete for it. Johnson was only able to fight former champion Bob Fitzsimmons in July 1907, and knocked him out in two rounds.

He eventually won the World Heavyweight Title on December 26, 1908, when he fought the World Heavyweight Champion, Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, after following him all over the world, taunting him in the press for a match. The fight lasted 14 rounds before being stopped by the police. The title was awarded to Johnson on a referee's decision as a T.K.O., but he had severely beaten the champion. During the fight, Johnson had mocked both Burns and his ringside crew. Every time Burns was about to go down, Johnson would hold him up again, punishing him more. The camera was stopped just as Johnson was finishing off Burns so that nobody could actually see Johnson becoming the champion.

As title holder, Johnson had to face a series of fighters billed by boxing promoters as "great white hopes", often as exhibition matches. In 1909 he fought Victor McLaglen (who later became a Hollywood star) in a six-round no-contest bout. That same year he beat Frank Moran, Jack O'Brien, Tony Ross and Al Kaufman.

He also fought the middleweight champion Stanley Ketchel. As the story goes, Ketchell agreed to try not to win, and the two agreed to try to make the fight go as long as possible, to get more money from selling films of the fight. However, at one point Ketchell saw an opening, and threw a big right hand, trying to knock Johnson out. Johnson went down, but held himself up on one arm, then arose almost immediately, threw his own big right, and knocked Ketchell out. It was said that Ketchell's teeth became embedded in Johnson's glove.


Johnson's fight against Jeffries, 1910.

Johnson's fight against Jeffries, 1910.


On July 4, 1910 in front of 22,000 people at a ring built just for the occasion in downtown Reno, Nevada, he defeated James J. Jeffries, a champion who had earlier turned him down, with a K.O. in the 15th round. The "Fight of the Century" earned Johnson $115,000 and silenced critics, who had belittled Johnson's previous victory over Tommy Burns as empty, claiming Burns was a false champion since Jeffries had retired undefeated. His victory sparked race riots and certain states banned the filming of Johnson's victories over white fighters. In 2005, the United States National Film Preservation Board deemed the fight "historically significant" and put it in the National Film Registry.

But on April 5, 1915 the 37-year-old lost his title to Jess Willard in Havana, Cuba. With a crowd of 25,000 for the scheduled 45-round fight Johnson was K.O.'d in the 26th round. The temperature was 105 in the ring. Some claimed that Johnson threw the fight, but Willard said, "If he was going to throw the fight, I wished he'd done it sooner." Johnson circulated a photo of himself with his hand above his head, claiming that the floor was too hot to the touch and he was shielding the sun from his eyes, as proof that he was not knocked out.

He fought a number of bouts in Mexico before returning to the U.S. on July 20, 1920 and surrendering to Federal agents for allegedly violating the Mann Act against "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes" by sending his white girlfriend, Belle Schreiber, a railroad ticket to travel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Chicago, Illinois. This is generally considered an intentional misuse of the Act, which was intended to stop interstate traffic in prostitutes. He was sent to the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth to serve his sentence of one year and was released on July 9, 1921. There have been recurring proposals to grant Johnson a posthumous Presidential pardon.

According to legend, Johnson attempted to buy passage on the Titanic's maiden voyage in 1912 but was denied because of his race, thus gaining the "last laugh" on the racists when it sank. This story is commemorated in the song "Titanic" by Leadbelly and a "toast", "Shine and the Titanic," by Arthur "Arturo" Pfister, of New Orleans, Louisiana. (The legend is again given play in the song "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" by Jaime Brockett.)


Later days

He continued fighting, but age was catching up with him. After two losses in 1928 he participated only in exhibition bouts. He opened a night club in Harlem, which later became the Cotton Club. According to a reporter, the story is that his wife, Lucille Cameron, divorced him in 1924 on the grounds of infidelity. Jack Johnson then married an old friend named Ms. Irene Pineau.

Jack Johnson died in a car crash near Raleigh, North Carolina in 1946 and was buried next to Etta Duryea in Graceland Cemetery, in Chicago, Illinois. He was inducted to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954.



His fighting style was very distinctive. He always began a bout cautiously before slowly building up over the rounds into a more aggressive fighter. He often fought to punish his opponent rather than knock him out, endlessly avoiding their blows and striking with swift counters. He always gave the impression of having much more to offer and, if pushed, he could really damage an opponent.

Johnson is also a member of the modern International Boxing Hall of Fame, which was established in 1990 at Canastota, New York.

Johnson flouted conventions regarding the social and economic "place" of African Americans. As a black man, he broke a powerful taboo in consorting with white women, usually prostitutes, and would verbally taunt and otherwise bully men (white and black) both inside and outside the ring. Once, when he was pulled over for a $50 speeding ticket, he gave the officer a $100 bill, telling the officer he should keep the change as he was going to make his return trip at the same speed.

Johnson's skill as a fighter and the money that it brought him made him unable to be ignored by the white establishment. In the short term, the boxing world reacted against this legacy. Joe Louis was not able to box for the heavyweight title until he proved he could "act white," and was warned against gloating over fallen opponents or having his picture taken with a white woman. But Johnson foreshadowed, in many ways, perhaps the most famous boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. In fact, Muhammad Ali often spoke of how he was influenced by Jack Johnson. He identified with him because he felt white America ostracized him in the same manner because of his opposition to the war in Vietnam. Muhammad Ali in his autobiography relates how he and Joe Frazier agreed that Johnson and Joe Louis were the greatest boxers of old.

In a documentary about his life by Ken Burns, called "Unforgivable Blackness", Burns said: "For more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous, and the most notorious, African-American on Earth.".


Other interests

Johnson was also interested in opera (his favorite being Il Trovatore), history (he was an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, owing to their common heritage of rising from humble origins to the top of their respective fields), and automobile racing. He was also an inventor, holding at least three patents; two were associated with automobiles (presumably the result of his interest in them), an improved adjustable wrench and an anti-theft device. The third was a steam-powered heavy winch. The first patent was filed while Johnson was in jail at Leavenworth.



Asked the secret of his staying power by a reporter who had watched a succession of women parade into, and out of, the champion's room, Johnson supposedly said, "Eat jellied eels and think distant thoughts."


Popular culture

Southern punk rock band This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb has a song about Jack Johnson. It appears on both their Three Way Tie for a Fifth CD and split seven inch with Carrie Nations. Several hip-hop artists have also reflected on Johnson's legacy, most notably "New Danger", by Mos Def, in which songs like "Zimzallabim" and "Blue Black Jack" are devoted to the artist's pugilistic hero. Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis both have done soundtracks for documentaries about Jack Johnson. There are also several references to Jack Johnson, made by the main character Ron Burgundy, in the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Jack Johnson's story is the basis of the play and subsequent 1970 movie, "The Great White Hope", starring James Earl Jones as Johnson (known as Jack Jefferson in the movie), and Jane Alexander as his love interest.


Miles Davis's 1970 album "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" was inspired by Johnson. The end of the record features the actor Brock Peters (presumably as Johnson) saying:

"I'm Jack Johnson. Heavy weight champion of the world. I'm black. They never let me forget it. I'm black all right! I'll never let them forget it!".




Blind Willie Johnson, "God Moves on the Water"


Ah, Lord, ah, Lord

Year of nineteen hundred and twelve, April the fourteenth day
Great Titanic struck an iceberg, people had to run and pray
God moves, moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

The guards who had been a-watching, asleep 'cause they were tired
When they heard the great excitement, then a gunshot was fired
God moves, moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

Captain Smith gave orders, women and children first
Many of the lifeboats piled right up, many were liable to crush
God moves on, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray


So many had to leave their happy home, all that they possess
Lord Jesus, will you hear us now, help us in our distress
God moves, God moves, God moves, ah, people had to run and pray

Women had to leave their loving ones, see 'bout their safety
When they heard the liner was doomed, hearts did almost break
God moves, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

A.G. Smith, mighty man, built a boat that he couldn't understand
Named it a name of God in a tin, without a "c", Lord, he pulled it in
God moves, ah, God moves, God moves, ah, and the people had to run and pray

(spoken: Well) Ahh, ah, Lord