R.M.S. Queen Mary - a Nautical Money Pit. And Stanley Kubrick.

R.M.S. Queen Mary – a Nautical Money Pit. And Stanley Kubrick.

R.M.S. Queen Mary - a Nautical Money Pit. And Stanley Kubrick.

The Postcard

A postcard that was printed and published by J. Salmon Ltd. of Sevenoaks.

The card was posted in Surrey on Thursday the 26th. April 1951 to:

Mrs. Elliott,
St. Margaret’s,
254, Carshalton Road,

The message on the divided back was as follows:

"This is a complete contrast
to the usual P.C., but I thought
that it would interest you.
What a mighty vessel!
Hope you are enjoying this
lovely weather.
I am so glad that Mr. Elliott
is so much better.
Much love,
J & W".

RMS Queen Mary

The RMS Queen Mary is a retired British ocean liner that sailed primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line (known as Cunard-White Star Line when the vessel entered service). She was built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland.

The Queen Mary, along with RMS Queen Elizabeth, were built as part of Cunard’s planned two-ship weekly express service between Southampton, Cherbourg and New York. The two ships were a British response to the express superliners built by German, Italian and French companies in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.

The Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage on the 27th. May 1936, and won the Blue Riband that August; she lost the title to SS Normandie in 1937, and recaptured it in 1938, holding it until 1952 when it was taken by the new SS United States.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, she was converted into a troopship and ferried Allied soldiers during the conflict.

Following the war, the Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service, and along with the Queen Elizabeth commenced the two-ship transatlantic passenger service for which they were originally built. The two ships dominated the transatlantic passenger market until the dawn of the jet age in the late 1950’s. By the mid-1960’s, the Queen Mary was ageing and was operating at a loss.

After several years of decreased profits for Cunard Line, the Queen Mary was officially retired from service in 1967. She left Southampton for the last time on the 31st. October 1967, and sailed to the port of Long Beach, California, where she remains permanently moored.

The ship serves as a tourist attraction featuring restaurants, a museum and a hotel. The ship is listed in the US on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Queen Mary was featured in the film ‘Assault on a Queen’ (1966) starring Frank Sinatra.

The Construction and Naming of RMS Queen Mary

With Germany launching Bremen and Europa into service, Britain did not want to be left behind in the shipbuilding race. White Star Line began construction of their 80,000-ton Oceanic in 1928, while Cunard planned a 75,000-ton un-named ship of their own.

Construction of the Queen Mary, then known only as ‘Hull Number 534’, was begun in December 1930 on the River Clyde by John Brown & Company.

Work was halted in December 1931 due to the Great Depression, and Cunard applied to the British Government for a loan to complete 534. The loan was granted, with enough money to complete the unfinished ship, and also to build a running mate, with the intention to provide a two-ship weekly service to New York.

One condition of the loan was that Cunard merge with the White Star Line, another struggling British shipping company, which was Cunard’s chief British rival at the time, and which had already been forced by the depression to cancel construction of its Oceanic.

Both lines agreed, and the merger was completed on the 10th. May 1934. Work on the Queen Mary resumed immediately, and she was launched on the 26th. September 1934. Completion ultimately took ​3 1⁄2 years and cost £3,500,000, then equal to 17.5 million US dollars, and equivalent to $334,460,000 in 2019.

Prior to the ship’s launch, the River Clyde had to be specially deepened to cope with her size.

The ship was named after Mary of Teck, consort of King George V. Until her launch, the name was kept a closely guarded secret.

Legend has it that Cunard intended to name the ship Victoria, in keeping with company tradition of giving its ships names ending in ‘ia’. However when company representatives asked the king’s permission to name the ocean liner after Britain’s ‘Greatest Queen’, he said his wife, Mary of Teck, would be delighted. And, so the legend goes, the delegation had no other choice but to call the ship the Queen Mary.

Support for the story was provided by Washington Post editor Felix Morley, who sailed as a guest of the Cunard Line on Queen Mary’s 1936 maiden voyage. In his 1979 autobiography, ‘For the Record’, Morley wrote that he was placed at table with Sir Percy Bates, chairman of the Cunard Line. Bates told him the story of the naming of the ship:

"On condition you won’t
print it during my lifetime."

The name had already been given to the Clyde turbine steamer TS Queen Mary, so Cunard made an arrangement with its owners, and this older ship was renamed Queen Mary II.

Queen Mary was fitted with 24 Yarrow boilers in four boiler rooms, and four Parsons turbines in two engine rooms. There were four propellers, each turning at 200 RPM. The Queen Mary achieved 32.84 knots on her acceptance trials in early 1936.

From Launching to World War II

In 1934 the new liner was launched by Queen Mary as RMS Queen Mary. On her way down the slipway, Queen Mary was slowed by eighteen drag chains, which checked the liner’s progress into the River Clyde.

When she sailed on her maiden voyage from Southampton on the 27th. May 1936, she was commanded by Sir Edgar Britten, who had been the master-designate for Cunard White Star whilst the ship was under construction at the John Brown shipyard.

The Queen Mary measured 80,774 gross register tons (GRT). Her rival Normandie, which originally grossed 79,280 tonnes, had been modified the preceding winter to increase her size to 83,243 GRT (an enclosed tourist lounge was built on the aft boat deck on the area where the game court was), and therefore reclaimed the title of the world’s largest ocean liner from the Queen Mary, who had only held it for a few weeks.

The Queen Mary sailed at high speed for most of her maiden voyage to New York, until heavy fog forced a reduction of speed on the final day of the crossing, arriving in New York Harbour on the 1st. June 1936.

Queen Mary’s design was criticised for being too traditional, especially when Normandie’s hull was revolutionary with a clipper-shaped, streamlined bow. Except for her cruiser stern, the Queen Mary seemed to be an enlarged version of her Cunard predecessors from the pre–Great War era.

Furthermore, her interior design, while mostly Art Deco, seemed restrained and conservative when compared to the ultramodern French liner. Nevertheless the Queen Mary proved to be more popular than her rival in terms of passengers carried.

In August 1936, the Queen Mary captured the Blue Riband from Normandie, with average speeds of 30.14 knots (55.82 km/h; 34.68 mph) westbound and 30.63 knots (56.73 km/h; 35.25 mph) eastbound.

Normandie was refitted with a new set of propellers in 1937 and reclaimed the honour, but in 1938 Queen Mary took back the Blue Riband in both directions with average speeds of 30.99 knots (57.39 km/h; 35.66 mph) westbound and 31.69 knots (58.69 km/h; 36.47 mph) eastbound, records which stood until lost to the United States in 1952.

The Interior of RMS Queen Mary

Among the facilities available on board the Queen Mary, the liner featured two indoor swimming pools, beauty salons, libraries and children’s nurseries for all three classes, a music studio and lecture hall, telephone connectivity to anywhere in the world, outdoor paddle tennis courts and dog kennels.

The largest room onboard was the cabin class (first class) main dining room (Grand Salon), spanning three stories in height and anchored by wide columns. The ship had many air-conditioned public rooms. The cabin-class swimming pool facility spanned over two decks in height.

The Queen Mary was the first ocean liner to be equipped with her own Jewish prayer room – part of a policy to show that British shipping lines avoided the antisemitism evident at that time in Nazi Germany.

The cabin-class main dining room featured a large map of the transatlantic crossing, with twin tracks symbolising the winter/spring route (further south to avoid icebergs) and the summer/autumn route. During each crossing, a motorised model of Queen Mary would indicate the vessel’s progress en route.

As an alternative to the main dining room, Queen Mary featured a separate cabin-class Verandah Grill on the Sun Deck at the upper aft of the ship. The Verandah Grill was an exclusive à la carte restaurant with a capacity of approximately eighty passengers, and was converted to the Starlight Club at night. Also on board was the Observation Bar, an Art Deco-styled lounge with wide ocean views.

Woods from different regions of the British Empire were used in her public rooms and staterooms. Accommodation ranged from fully equipped, luxurious first class staterooms to modest and cramped third-class cabins.

The Queen Mary and World War II

In late August 1939, the Queen Mary was on a return run from New York to Southampton. The international situation led to her being escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Hood. She arrived safely, and set out again for New York on the 1st. September. By the time she arrived, the Second World War had started and she was ordered to remain in port alongside Normandie until further notice.

In March 1940, Queen Mary and Normandie were joined in New York by Queen Mary’s new sister ship the Queen Elizabeth, fresh from her secret dash from Clydebank. The three largest liners in the world sat idle for some time until the Allied commanders decided that all three ships could be used as troopships.

Normandie was destroyed by fire during her troopship conversion. Queen Mary left New York for Sydney, Australia, where she, along with several other liners, was converted into a troopship to carry Australian and New Zealand soldiers to the United Kingdom.

In the Second World War conversion, the Queen Mary’s hull, superstructure, and funnels were painted navy grey. As a result of her new colour, and in combination with her great speed, she became known as the ‘Grey Ghost’.

To protect against magnetic mines, a degaussing coil was fitted around the outside of the hull. Inside, stateroom furniture and decorations were removed and replaced with triple-tiered (fixed) wooden bunks, which were later replaced by ‘standee’ (fold-up) bunks.

A total of 6 miles (10 km) of carpet, 220 cases of china, crystal and silver services, tapestries, and paintings were removed and stored in warehouses for the duration of the war. The woodwork in the staterooms, the cabin-class dining room, and other public areas was covered with leather.

The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were the largest and fastest troopships involved in the war, often carrying as many as 15,000 men in a single voyage, and often travelling out of convoy and without escort. Their high speed and zigzag courses made it virtually impossible for U-boats to catch them.

On the 2nd. October 1942, the Queen Mary accidentally sank one of her escort ships, slicing through the light cruiser HMS Curacoa off the Irish coast with a loss of 239 lives. At the time the Queen Mary was carrying thousands of Americans of the 29th. Infantry Division to join the Allied forces in Europe. Due to the risk of U-boat attacks, Queen Mary was under orders not to stop under any circumstances, and steamed onward with a fractured stem.

Some sources claim that hours later, the convoy’s lead escort returned to rescue 99 survivors of Curacoa’s crew of 338, including her captain John W. Boutwood. This claim is refuted by the liner’s then-Staff Captain Harry Grattidge, who records that the Queen Mary’s Captain, Gordon Illingsworth, immediately ordered the accompanying destroyers to look for survivors within moments of the Curacoa’s sinking.

From the 25th.–30th. July 1943, Queen Mary carried 15,740 soldiers and 943 crew (total 16,683), a standing record for the most passengers ever transported on one vessel. During this trip, while 700 miles (1,100 km) from Scotland during a gale, she was suddenly hit broadside by a rogue wave that might have reached a height of 28 metres (92 ft).

Dr. Norval Carter, part of the 110th. Station Hospital on board at the time, wrote in a letter that at one point:

‘The Queen Mary damned near capsized.
One moment the top deck was at its usual
height and then, swoom! Down, over, and
forward she would pitch.’

It was calculated later that the ship had rolled 52 degrees, and would have capsized had she rolled another 3 degrees.

During the war the Queen Mary carried British Prime Minister Winston Churchill across the Atlantic for meetings with fellow Allied forces officials on several occasions. He was listed on the passenger manifest as ‘Colonel Warden’.

The Queen Mary After World War II

After delivering a load of war brides to Canada, Queen Mary made her fastest ever crossing, returning to Southampton in only three days, 22 hours and 42 minutes at an average speed of just under 32 knots (59 km/h).

From September 1946 to July 1947, Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service, adding air conditioning and upgrading her berth configuration to 711 first class (formerly called cabin class), 707 cabin class (formerly tourist class) and 577 tourist class (formerly third class) passengers.

Following refit, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth dominated the transatlantic passenger trade as Cunard White Star’s two-ship weekly express service through the latter half of the 1940’s and well into the 1950’s. They proved highly profitable for Cunard (as the company was renamed in 1947).

On the 1st. January 1949, the Queen Mary ran aground off Cherbourg, France. She was refloated the next day, and returned to service.

In 1958 the first transatlantic flight by a jet began a completely new era of competition for the Cunard Queens. On some voyages, winters especially, Queen Mary sailed into harbour with more crew than passengers, though both she and Queen Elizabeth still averaged over 1,000 passengers per crossing into the middle 1960’s. By 1965, the entire Cunard fleet was operating at a loss.

Hoping to continue financing the Queen Elizabeth 2 which was under construction at Brown’s shipyard, Cunard mortgaged the majority of the fleet. Due to a combination of age, lack of public interest, inefficiency in a new market and the damaging after-effects of the national seamen’s strike, Cunard announced that both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth would be retired from service and sold off.

Many offers were submitted, and the bid of $3.45m/£1.2m from Long Beach, California beat the Japanese scrap merchants.

Queen Mary was retired from service in 1967. On the 27th. September, she completed her 1,000th. and last crossing of the North Atlantic, having carried 2,112,000 passengers over 3,792,227 miles (6,102,998 km). Under the command of Captain John Treasure Jones, who had been her captain since 1965, she sailed from Southampton for the last time on the 31st. October with 1,093 passengers and 806 crew.

After a voyage around Cape Horn, she arrived in Long Beach on the 9th. December. The Queen Elizabeth was withdrawn in 1968, and Queen Elizabeth 2 took over the transatlantic route in 1969.

The Queen Mary at Long Beach

The Queen Mary is now permanently moored as a tourist attraction, hotel, museum and event facility in Long Beach. From 1983 to 1993, Howard Hughes’ plane H-4 Hercules was located in a large dome nearby. The dome was later repurposed as a sound stage for film and television. The structure is now used by Carnival Cruise Lines as a ship terminal, as a venue for the Long Beach Derby Gals roller derby team, and as an event venue.

Conversion of the Queen Mary

When the Queen Mary was bought by Long Beach, the new owners decided not to preserve her as an ocean liner. It was decided to clear almost every area of the ship below C deck (called R deck after 1950, to lessen passenger confusion, as the restaurants were located on R deck). The clearance was to make way for Jacques Cousteau’s new Living Sea Museum. This increased museum space to 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2).

When the Queen Mary came to Long Beach, the Sun Deck windows were enlarged, and an anti-aircraft gun was placed on display astride the foremast to represent the Second World War days of the liner.

The conversion at Long Beach required removal of all the boiler rooms, the forward engine room, both turbo generator rooms, the ship stabilisers and the water softening plant. The ship’s empty fuel tanks were filled with local mud to keep the ship’s centre of gravity and draft at the correct levels, as these critical factors had been affected by the removal of the various components and structure. Only the aft engine room and ‘shaft alley’, at the stern of the ship, was spared.

During the conversion the funnels were removed, as this area was needed to lift out the scrap materials from the engine and boiler rooms. Workers found that the funnels were significantly degraded, and they were replaced with replicas.

With all of the lower decks nearly gutted, Diners Club, the initial lessee of the ship, converted the remainder of the vessel into a hotel. Diners Club Queen Mary dissolved and vacated the ship in 1970 after their parent company, Diners Club International, was sold, and a change in direction was mandated during the conversion process.

Specialty Restaurants, a Los Angeles-based company that focused on theme-based restaurants, took over as master lessee the following year.

This second plan was based on converting most of her first- and second-class cabins on A and B decks into hotel rooms, and converting the main lounges and dining rooms into banquet spaces. On Promenade Deck, the starboard promenade was enclosed to feature an upscale restaurant and café named Lord Nelson’s and Lady Hamilton’s; it was themed in the fashion of early-19th century sailing ships. The famed and elegant Observation Bar was redecorated as a western-themed bar.

The smaller first-class public rooms, such as the Drawing Room, Library, Lecture Room and the Music Studio, were stripped of most of their fittings and converted to commercial use. This markedly expanded retail space on the ship. Two more shopping malls were built on the Sun Deck in separate spaces previously used for first-class cabins and engineers’ quarters.

A post-war feature of the ship, the first-class cinema, was removed for kitchen space for the new Promenade Deck dining venues. The first-class lounge and smoking room were reconfigured and converted into banquet space. The second-class smoking room was subdivided into a wedding chapel and office space.

On the Sun Deck, the elegant Verandah Grill was gutted and converted into a fast-food eatery, while a new upscale dining venue was created directly above it on Sports Deck, in space once used for crew quarters.

The second-class lounges were expanded to the sides of the ship and used for banqueting. On R deck, the first-class dining room was reconfigured and subdivided into two banquet venues, the Royal Salon and the Windsor Room. The second-class dining room was subdivided into kitchen storage and a crew mess hall, while the third-class dining room was initially used as storage and crew space.

Also on R deck, the first-class Turkish bath complex, the 1930’s equivalent to a spa, was removed. The second-class pool was removed and its space initially used for office space, while the first-class swimming pool was open for viewing by hotel guests and visitors.

Because of modern safety codes and the compromised structural soundness of the area directly below, the swimming pool could not be used for swimming after the conversion, although it was filled with water until the late 1980’s. Today the pool can only be seen on guided tours and is in a derelict condition, having never been maintained by the hotel operators. No second-class, third-class or crew cabins remain intact aboard the ship today.

The Queen Mary as a Tourist Attraction

On the 8th. May 1971 the Queen Mary opened her doors to tourists. Initially, only portions of the ship were open to the public as Specialty Restaurants had yet to open its dining venues, and PSA had not completed work converting the ship’s original First Class staterooms into the hotel.

As a result, the ship was open only on weekends. On the 11th. December 1971 Jacques Cousteau’s Museum of the Sea opened, with only a quarter of the planned exhibits completed. Within the decade, Cousteau’s museum had closed due to low ticket sales and the deaths of many of the fish that were housed in the museum.

On the 2nd. November 1972 the PSA Hotel Queen Mary opened its initial 150 guest rooms. Two years later, with all 400 rooms finished, PSA brought in Hyatt Hotels to manage the hotel, which operated from 1974 to 1980 as the Queen Mary Hyatt Hotel.

By 1980, it had become apparent that the existing system was not working. The ship was losing millions each year for the city because the hotel, restaurants and museum were run by three separate concessionaires, while the city owned the vessel and operated guided tours. It was decided that a single operator with more experience in attractions was needed.

Jack Wrather, a local millionaire, had fallen in love with the ship because he and his wife, Bonita Granville, had fond memories of sailing on it numerous times. Wrather signed a 66-year lease with the city of Long Beach to operate the entire property. He oversaw the display of the Spruce Goose on long-term loan. The immense plane, which had been sitting in a hangar in Long Beach for decades unseen by the public, was installed in a huge geodesic dome adjacent to the liner in 1983, attracting increased attendance.

Jack’s Wrather Port Properties operated the entire attraction after his death in 1984 until 1988, when his holdings were bought by the Walt Disney Company. Wrather had built the Disneyland Hotel in 1955, when Walt Disney had insufficient funds to construct the hotel himself. Disney had been trying to buy the hotel for 30 years. When they finally succeeded, they also acquired the Queen Mary. This was never marketed as a Disney property.

Through the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the Queen Mary struggled financially. Disney pinned their hopes for turning the attraction around on Port Disney, a huge planned resort on the adjacent docks. It was to include an attraction known as DisneySea, a theme park celebrating the world’s oceans. The plans eventually fell through; in 1992 Disney gave up the lease on the ship to focus on building what would become Disney California Adventure Park.

With Disney gone, the Hotel Queen Mary closed on the 30th. September 1992. The owners of the Spruce Goose, the Aero Club of Southern California, sold the plane to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in Oregon. The plane departed on barges on the 2nd. October 1992, leaving the huge dome empty. The Queen Mary tourist attraction remained open for another two months, but on the 31st. December 1992, the Queen Mary closed her doors to tourists and visitors.

On the 5th. February 1993, RMS Foundation Inc. signed a five-year lease with the city of Long Beach to act as the operators of the property. The foundation was run by Joseph F. Prevratil, who had managed the attraction for Wrather. On the 26th. February 1993 the tourist attraction re-opened, while the hotel reopened partially on the 5th. March with 125 rooms and the banquet facilities, with the remainder of the rooms coming online on the 30th. April.

In 1995, RMS’s lease was extended to twenty years, while the scope of the lease was reduced to operation of the ship. A new company, Queen’s Seaport Development, Inc. (QSDI), was established in 1995 to control the real estate adjacent to the vessel. In 1998, the city of Long Beach extended the QSDI lease to 66 years.

In 2004, Queen Mary and Stargazer Productions added Tibbies Great American Cabaret to the space previously occupied by the ship’s bank and wireless telegraph room. Stargazer Productions and Queen Mary transformed the space into a working dinner theatre complete with stage, lights, sound and scullery.

In 2005, QSDI sought Chapter 11 protection due to a rent credit dispute with the city. In 2006, the bankruptcy court requested bids from parties interested in taking over the lease from QSDI. The minimum required opening bid was $41M. The operation of the ship, by RMS Foundation, remained independent of the bankruptcy. In summer 2007, Queen Mary’s lease was sold to a group named ‘Save the Queen’, managed by Hostmark Hospitality Group.

They planned to develop the land adjacent to the Queen Mary, and upgrade, renovate and restore the ship. During their management, staterooms were updated with iPod docking stations and flatscreen TVs, and the ship’s three funnels and waterline area were repainted their original Cunard Red colour. The portside Promenade Deck’s planking was restored and refinished. Many lifeboats were repaired and patched, and the ship’s kitchens were renovated with new equipment.

In late September 2009, management of Queen Mary was taken over by Delaware North Companies, who planned to continue restoration and renovation of the ship and its property. They were determined to revitalise and enhance the ship as an attraction. But in April 2011, the city of Long Beach was informed that Delaware North was no longer managing Queen Mary.

In 2016 Urban Commons, a real estate company, assumed the lease of the Queen Mary. They revealed plans to extensively renovate the liner over the next year, and to redevelop the adjacent 45 acres of parking with a boutique hotel, restaurants, a marina, an amphitheatre, jogging trails, bike paths and possibly a huge Ferris wheel, all at a cost of up to $250 million.

In July 2017, while making repairs to a bathroom, workers rediscovered the ship’s forward gear room which had once controlled the ships 16-ton anchors. The room was apparently sealed up during the 1960’s conversion and was forgotten for decades.

The Condition of the Queen Mary

In 2017 a report on the ship’s condition was issued. The report noted that not only the hull but also the supports for a raised exhibition area within the ship were corroding, and that the ship’s deteriorating condition left areas such as the engine room vulnerable to flooding. Repairs were estimated at close to $300 million.

In November 2016 the City of Long Beach had put $23 million toward addressing the Queen Mary’s most vital repairs. John Keisler, economic and property development director for Long Beach, said:

"We have a timeline in which the
engineers believe they can complete
those immediate projects. These are
major challenges we can only address
over time; it can’t all be done at once."

Political leaders in Scotland, birthplace of the Queen Mary, called for the then-UK Prime Minister Theresa May to pressure the American government to fund a full repair of the liner in 2017, but this did not happen.

In August 2019, Edward Pribonic, the engineer responsible for inspecting the Queen Mary on behalf of the City of Long Beach, issued a report stating that the ship was in the worst condition he had seen in his 25 years on the job. Pribonic stated that the neglect of the Queen Mary had grown worse under the management of Urban Commons, and concluded that:

"Without an immediate and very significant
infusion of manpower and money, the
condition of the ship will likely soon be

Incidents of recent neglect included the flooding of the Grand Ballroom with sewage after a pipe which was flimsily patched with duct tape burst, significant amounts of standing water in the ship’s bilge, and the peeling of recently applied paint on the ship’s funnels because of the poor way in which it had been applied.

The pessimistic conclusion of Pribonic was disputed by city officials, who called the warnings ‘hyperbolic’ and pointed to the ‘significant’ work that had already been undertaken towards repairing the Queen Mary.

The $23 million apportioned for repairs ran out in 2018, with 19 out of the 27 urgent projects identified by a 2015 marine survey completed as of September 2019.

There were significant cost overruns overall, with the cost of fire safety repairs skyrocketing from the original estimate of $200,000, to $5.29 million. Two of the remaining 8 issues identified in 2015 were considered ‘critical’ – this included the removal of the ship’s lifeboats, which had rotted and were in danger of collapsing.

In October 2019, the City of Long Beach warned Urban Commons that the company was failing to uphold its commitment to maintain and repair the Queen Mary, and that it was accordingly in danger of defaulting on its 66-year lease agreement. Urban Commons responded with an updated plan for repairs, including the removal of the lifeboats at a cost of between $5 and $7 million, and new paint work. In December it was announced that the City was reviewing the finances of Urban Commons to determine whether the City of Long Beach had ‘received all revenues owed.’

Queen Mary’s original, professionally manned wireless radio room was removed when the ship was moored in Long Beach. In its place, an amateur radio room was created one deck above the original radio reception room, with some of the discarded original radio equipment used for display purposes. The amateur radio station, with the call sign W6RO (‘Whiskey Six Romeo Oscar’), relies on volunteers from a local amateur radio club. They staff the radio room during most public hours. The radios can also be used by other licensed amateur radio operators.

In honour of his over forty years of dedication to W6RO and Queen Mary, in November 2007 the Queen Mary Wireless Room was renamed as the Nate Brightman Radio Room. This was announced on the 28th. October 2007, at Brightman’s 90th. birthday party by Joseph Prevratil, former President and CEO of the Queen Mary.

The Ghosts of the Queen Mary

Following Queen Mary’s permanent docking in California, claims were made that the ship was haunted. In 2008, Time magazine included The Queen Mary among its ‘Top 10 Haunted Places’. One of the staterooms is alleged to be haunted by the spirit of a person supposedly murdered there. The Queen Mary Hotel promotes suite room B-340, a former third class cabin, as ‘notoriously haunted’.

The Queen Mary also operates a number of commercial tours that include haunted attraction experiences, such as Dark Harbour, which operates during the Halloween season, the ‘Haunted Encounters Tour’ and ‘Ghosts and Legends’ tour, promoted as featuring ‘terrifying original stories and characters based the ship’s well-known paranormal tales’.

Sceptical Inquirer writer John Champion has criticised the haunted tours, calling them:

‘A cynical exploitation of the space. Much effort
is put into promoting the ship as a ‘haunted
attraction’, while efforts to explain or preserve
the factual history of the ship are somehow
pushed to the wayside’.

‘Day of the Fight’

So what else happened on the day that the card was posted?

Well, on the 26th. April 1951, the film ‘Day of the Fight’ premiered at New York’s Paramount Theatre, on the same program as the film ‘My Forbidden Past’. Frank Sinatra headlined the live stage show on that day.

‘Day of the Fight’ is a short American documentary film financed and directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Shot in black-and-white, the film is based on an earlier photo feature he shot for Look magazine in 1949.

‘Day of the Fight’ shows Irish-American middleweight boxer Walter Cartier during the height of his career, on the 17th. April 1950, the day of a fight with middleweight Bobby James.

The film opens with a short section on boxing’s history and then follows Cartier through his day as he prepares for the 10 P.M. bout. Cartier eats breakfast in his West 12th. Street apartment in Greenwich Village, goes to early mass, and eats lunch at his favourite restaurant.

At 4 P.M., he starts preparations for the fight. By 8 P.M., he is waiting in his dressing room at Laurel Gardens in Newark, New Jersey, for the fight to begin. We then see the fight itself, which he wins in a short match.

A year after the fight, Walter Cartier made boxing history by knocking out Joe Rindone in the first forty-seven seconds of a match on the 16th. October 1951.

Cartier had played some bit parts in movies before he appeared in ‘Day of the Fight’, and afterwards continued to appear occasionally in movies up until 1971, but he was most successful playing mild-mannered Private Claude Dillingham in the sitcom ‘The Phil Silvers Show’ for the 1955-1956 season.

Alexander Singer was a high school friend of Stanley Kubrick’s (they went to William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx). Singer acted as assistant director and a cameraman for the film.

Douglas Edwards

Douglas Edwards, who narrated ‘Day of the Fight’ was a veteran radio and television newscaster. At the time, he was the anchor for the first daily television news program, on CBS, which would later be called Douglas Edwards with the News, and then The CBS Evening News. Edwards was replaced by Walter Cronkite in 1962, but remained a noted voice on CBS Radio news programs until he retired in 1988.

Eyemo Cameras

Kubrick and Singer used daylight-loading Eyemo cameras that took 100-foot spools of 35mm black-and-white film to shoot the fight, with Kubrick shooting hand-held (often from below) and Singer’s camera on a tripod. The 100-foot reels required constant reloading, and Kubrick did not catch the knock-out punch which ended the bout because he was reloading at the time. Singer did, however.

Gerald Fried

‘Day of the Fight’ is the first credit on composer Gerald Fried’s resumé. Kubrick did not pay him for his work on the film. Fried told the Guardian in 2018:

"He thought the very fact that my
doing the music for the film got me
into the profession was enough

Fried, a childhood friend of Kubrick, later wrote the score for the director’s ‘Paths of Glory’ (1957) and three other films.

Sale of ‘Day of The Fight’

Although the original planned buyer of the picture went out of business, Kubrick was able to sell ‘Day of the Fight’ to RKO Pictures for $4,000, making a small profit of $100 above the $3,900 cost of making the film.

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