Love Me Tender!
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we take a look at a few of the best Nomadic love stories from onboard the world's last remaining White Star vessel!
In 1909, John Jacob Astor divorced his first wife Ava. Compounding the scandal of their divorce was Astor's announcement, less than a year later that he was to marry the 18 year old socialite, Madeleine Force. As Astor was now aged 47, there was much controversy over their 29-year age difference. The couple married in September 1911 and took an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt to wait for the gossip to calm down but decided to return home when they discovered that Madeline was pregnant.
They boarded SS Nomadic in Cherbourg, travelling out to RMS Titanic on 10th April 1912. Accompanying the Astors were Astor's valet, Victor Robbins; Madeleine's maid, Rosalie Bidois; and her nurse, Caroline Louise Endres. They also took their pet Airedale, Kitty. Madeleine, her nurse, and her maid survived the disaster. Astor, his valet, and Kitty, sadly did not. Madeline went on to have a son later that year in August 1912, naming him after his father – John Jacob Astor.
Wives of US soldiers returning from France
During WW1, SS Nomadic underwent a dramatic change of use. Requisitioned by the French Government, Nomadic was transformed into a minesweeper and when the war ended, she was sent to the French port of Brest where she carried soldiers out to troop carriers waiting in the harbour. Over 1 million American soldiers departed from Brest in the first part of 1919.
Nomadic transported many of these men out to their ships, along with over 17,000 French women who had married American servicemen at the end of the war. On board Nomadic, these new brides were heading away from home to start a new life in the United States of America!
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
While filming Cleopatra in Italy in 1962, the married Elizabeth Taylor began an affair with her (also married) co-star, Welsh actor Richard Burton. Taylor was granted divorce from her husband in March 1964 and went on to marry Burton later that year.
In October 1964, Nomadic (renamed Ingenieur Minard at the time) carried the newlywed couple from the Queen Elizabeth into the port at Cherbourg, where they were filming. Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, Taylor and Burton starred together in 11 films and led a jet set lifestyle, spending millions on "furs, diamonds, paintings, designer clothes, travel, food, liquor, a yacht, and a jet.
They divorced for the first time in June 1974, but reconciled and remarried in October 1975. The second marriage lasted less than a year, ending in divorce in July 1976. Taylor and Burton's relationship was often referred to as the "marriage of the century" by the media. Taylor went on to be married and divorced a total of 8 times.