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ost people have heard about Jack Dawson from the movie Titanic, the famous character that was played by Leonardo Dicaprio. This character was actually based on Jack Thayer who actually didn’t die when the Titanic sunk, managing to survive.

In April of 1912, the Titanic had sunk as it crashed into a massive iceberg. The event brought about the death of 1,514 as only 710 people managed to make it to shore. It is said that Jack Thayer was one of the 40 people which jumped of the ship into the ice-cold water to save themselves.

Although Jack Dawson is based on Jack Thayer their lives are quite different, but their experiences on the Titanic are close to similar, seeing where the inspiration for the plot of the movie Titanic came from.

Jack Thayer’s life

Portrait of Jack Thayer (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Compared to Jack Dawson, the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Thayer was born into a wealthy family as his father John B. Thayer happened to be the director and vice-president of railroads in Pennsylvania. In 1911, his father decided to take the whole family on a vacation around Europe with their last destination being England.

Their plan was to get back home via the Titanic which was departing from Southampton port in England towards New York in America. Thayer was only 17 years of age in 1912 as he was born in 1894 whilst the character Jack Dawson was born in 1892, two years earlier than the real Jack.

Upon boarding the Titanic the family was represented with high social status due to not only the wealth but the reputation John B. Thayer gave his family, whilst Dawson won his tickets at a poker game which were for the lowest class possible. It is as if Jack Thayer represents the lifestyle of Rose DeWitt Bukater played by Kate Winslet in the movie.

Experience on the Titanic

The inspiration for Rose came from the small yet heated adventure Jack Thayer had whilst on the Titanic with an actress that was married at the time. Five days later the Titanic crashed into an iceberg. This happened whilst most of the passengers were asleep and as soon as the crash happened Thayer went to the top deck to see the damage.

Seeing that the ship was sinking everyone put their most warm clothes on and over the life jackets. In the panic created Jack Thayer lost his parents and he thought that they had boarded one of the lifeboats. In the rush, Thayer found another passenger named Milton who also lost his family. Both of them tried to get on a lifeboat but women and children had priority.

Seeing that there were no more lifeboats to board Jack and Milton both jumped into the freezing cold water. Some of the lifeboats had dropped from the ship upon impact with the iceberg, so both of them as well as others that had jumped off the ship were able to embark on lifeboats, however, they were all at risk of hypothermia.

After many hours, they were found by a search team who also found his mother that didn’t recognize him from how devastated he was. Once they reached the shores of America he hoped that his father was found by a rescue team, but sadly he had drowned as he never made it to a lifeboat in time.

After the incident, Jack continued his life by becoming an artillery officer in the Great War. After the war, he got married and raised six children. At some point in life, he actually wrote a book (Jack Thayer and the Wreck of the Titanic) about his experience on the Titanic that inspired most of the plot in the movie Titanic.

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