- The richest passenger aboard the Titanic -
( 1864 - 1912 )
|* List of the stories
he appears in :
- D 93288 : "The Empire-Builder from Calisota" (Lo$#11), from 1994, by Don Rosa.
* His biography :
Colonel John Jacob Astor IV was born in Rhinebeck, New York on July 13th, 1864, the son of William Astor and great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, the German immigrant who made himself the richest man in America by investing in fur trading and real estate. Astor was educated at St. Paul's School, Concord and later went to Harvard. Then, he returned to the United States to manage the family fortune. He had two homes in New York.
On 1 May 1891 Astor was married to Ava, daughter of Edward Shippen Willing of Philadelphia. Together they had a son and one daughter.
In 1894 Astor wrote a semi-scientific novel about life on other planets, A Journey in Other Worlds. He also developed several mechanical devices, helped to develop the turbine engine, and invented a pneumatic road-improver.
In 1897 Astor built the Astoria Hotel, New York adjoining the Waldorf Hotel which had been built by William Waldorf Astor, his cousin. The new complex became known as the Waldorf-Astoria. Astor's real-estate interest included two other hotels, the Hotel St. Regis (1905) and the Knickerbocker (1906).
He became Colonel-staff to General Levi P. Morton and in 1898, at the time of the Spanish-American War, was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the US volunteers. He placed his yacht Nourmahal at the disposal of the U.S. government and equipped a mountain battery of artillery for use against the Spanish.
He also played as an actor in two films, President McKinley's Inspection of Camp Wikoff (1898), and Col. John Jacob Astor, Staff and Veterans of the Spanish-American War (1899), in which he played his own role.
In 1909 Astor divorced Ava and, two years later, married his eighteen-year-old mistress Madeleine Talmadge Force, which scandalized New York society . Mr and Mrs Astor travelled to Egypt and Paris and, in the spring of 1912, decided to return to America as First Class passengers on board the brand new Titanic, probably because, given that Madeleine was 5 months pregnant, they wanted the baby to be born in America. They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg.
After the accident Astor left his suite to investigate, he quickly returned and reported to his wife that the ship had struck ice. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious. As his wife boarded a lifeboat, Astor asked if he could accompany her, due to her "delicate condition", but an Second Officer Lightoller refused, reminding Astor of the "women and children only" rule. Taking the refusal like a gentleman, Astor then threw his gloves to his wife, and lit a cigarette. He and his dog were last seen on deck.
Astor died when the ship went down, on April 15, 1912. His body was recovered during the retrieval process by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett, on April 22, covered in soot, and partially crushed, leading experts to believe he had been smashed by a falling smokestack. He had $2,500 cash in his pocket. The body was delivered to Mr N. Biddle and forwarded to New York City on May 1. He was buried at Trinity Cemetery, New York.
Madeleine survived to inherit 1.7 million from John, and on August 14th that same year gave birth to John Jacob Astor VI, who would grow up to become a millionaire playboy much like his father.
* His place in the Barks/Rosa stories universe
In "The Empire-Builder from Calisota", John Jacob Astor is seen along with Scrooge McDuck on the Titanic, vainly trying to buy his Candy Striped Rubis (from Barks' "The Status Seeker", W US 41-02, 1962), and when the boat suddenly crashes against the iceberg, Astor falls overboard. In this story, he's just called Astor, as publishers wouldn't allow his real name to be used in the comic, but in Don Rosa's original script the full name is used.
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