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Home / CRUISING THE PAST / Cruise History: Henry Ford, Fred Astaire and Paul Robeson aboard the SS Majestic – Cunard/White Star Line – The world’s largest liner “crossing the pond” during the 1920s.

Cruise History: Henry Ford, Fred Astaire and Paul Robeson aboard the SS Majestic – Cunard/White Star Line – The world’s largest liner “crossing the pond” during the 1920s.


Take a cruise aboard the SS Majestic through these vintage black and white home movies courtesy of www.shipgeek.com. Bon voyage!

Henry Ford with Wife and Friends on Liner: Henry Ford Returns As “John Robinson!” Traveling incognito for reasons best known to himself, Henry Ford, automobile magnate, returned to the United States with his wife and party aboard the S. S. Majestic, on May 8th, after a visit to England. Left to right: on arrival are Mrs. Harvey S. Firestone, Jr.; Mrs. O. B. Taylor; Harvey S. Firestone, Jr., rubber magnate; Mrs. Henry Ford as “Mrs. Robinson,” O. B. Taylor, a Detroit, Michigan, lawyer; and Henry Ford as :”John Robinson.

White Star Line’s RMS MAJESTIC was the largest passenger liner afloat in the 1920s.

Designed and nearly completed by the Germans as the BISMARCK, she was ceded to the Britain following World War 2 as reparations.

Her size, prestige and luxurious interiors made her of one the mot popular and profitable liners on the North Atlantic prior to the Great Depression.

At the end of the decade, she had the particular distinction of being the first liner tow show motions pictures with sound.

This was era of furious competition  when national prestigious was reflection the liners and “biggest,” “longest,” “fastest,” and “most luxurious” could mean the difference between profit and ruin.

She crossed the Atlantic in five days, carrying 2,145 passengers (750 first class, 545 second class, 850 third class). The interiors during this period would never be seen aboard passengers ships after World War II.

Fred and Adele Astaire Dancing on the Majestic: 6/21/27-New York: Fred and Adele Astaire who starred with their dancing act in “Lady Be Good” return to appear in a new Gershwin Musical Comedy which will make its appearance on Broadway in the Fall. They return on the S.S. Majestic.

A Majestic passenger wrote to a friend named Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “If you are a lover of the sea and ships that sail them the MAJESTIC is nothing but a gorgeous hotel filled with the usual obnoxious crowd.  The same average case reigns in the second as in the first class, the difference being solely a matter of dollars, certainly not habits.  As the steward will tell you, the best class of people travel second class at third class rates.”  These are rather harsh comments considering the illustrious passengers list of those who crossed.  But many Americans preferred foreign flag (not American ships) during the 20s because of prohibition.  You could “booze” on the MAJESTIC and this might have been reason to call some of the passengers obnoxious.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Robeson waving from SS Majestic: Paul Robeson, the Black singer and actor, is shown with Mrs. Robeson, as they arrived in New York City from Europe aboard the S. S. Majestic. He was on his way to Hollywood to appear in movies there.

Of interesting note, Majestic was referenced in a 1993 episode of Batman. The Ventriloquist’s dummy, Scarface, plans to rob the Majestic, as it has a shipment of platinum aboard it.  This is reference to a myth about another White Star liner, Titanic, that claims that it was hauling gold bullion on its maiden voyage. In real life, Majestic never hauled such cargo, but some other famed liners did. Canadian Pacific’s Empress of Ireland hauled silver bullion on several occasions. Strangely, it hauled 212 bars of silver bullion worth about $150,000 (adjusted for inflation; $1,099,000) on its ill fated final voyage.

Interiors are from Simplonpc Postcard Website Postcard collection.

Thanks to noted liner authority William H. Miller, Jr. for information on the Majestic.  Mr. Miller lectures on major liners and click here to visit his website for full information.

For extensive information on great ships such as the RMS Majestic visit a terrific website called Lost Liners by clicking here.  They have developed some wonderful “wallpaper” – seen above – that can be downloaded along with great material on many liners of the past.

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