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HomeBusiness & CommunityLocal entertainer reflects on Titanic experience

Local entertainer reflects on Titanic experience

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On July 20, 2005, Hernando County resident Fran Capo prayed the following prayer at the wreck site of the RMS Titanic:

“Lord, God, Heavenly Father, Strong to Dave! Hear us, O Lord, as we pray, as we cry out to you from the depths. We especially remember this day those 1513 souls who perished aboard the RMS TITANIC in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. We remember their loved one, relatives, family members, and friends who were bereaved so tragically in the terrible events of that night in the Icy waters off of Nova Scotia.
We ask that you grant a measure of your eternal peace to all those troubled, in peril, or lost on the seat.
We give you thanks, O Lord, for those who every day endanger their lives, seeking the lost, rescuing those who are floundering upon the sea. We pray for the members of the United States Coast Guard, whose charter since this tragedy now includes the monitoring of the northern ice flows. May you keep them continually in your care. AMEN.”

Fran Capo of Weeki Wachee is the holder of a number of world records, including a distinction as the World’s Fastest Talking Woman. She also has distinguished herself as the first and only author to conduct both a book signing and recite the first memorial prayer said at the wreckage site of the Titanic. And now, Capo is sharing her own story related to one of the most discussed sailing vessels in history.

“Throughout the whole experience, I had a sense of ‘What am I seeing?’” said Capo, a 21-time author and a nine-time world record holder who has appeared on more than 5000 TV & radio shows. She has performed around the world and was elected into the National Comedy Hall of Fame. “I was at the site of the Titanic.”

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According to research information supplied by Capo, the RMS Titanic was the largest man-made moving object on earth, during its time. The luxury liner had cost $7.5 million to construct, measured 882 feet and nine inches, and weighed 46,328 tons. Perceived to be unsinkable, tragedy struck on the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912, when the boat hit a 100 feet tall iceberg in the North Atlantic ocean just three days after leaving the port of Ireland. By 2 am on April 15, the boat sank 350 miles off the southeast coast of Newfoundland. Of the 2223 passengers aboard, 1517 of them perished, including Captain Smith who went down with his ship. The ship broke clearly into two pieces as it sank.

On September 1,1985, 73 years after the sinking of the Titanic, scientists of the Woods Hole Deep Submergence Lab (DSL) led by Dr. Robert Ballard located the ship via sonar technology. On July 13, 1986, Ballard and his crew descended in the manned submersible ALVIN (DSV-2) and rediscovered the famed ship. And, for a very limited time, private citizens could book passage on a submersible that would take them to the Titanic.

“My expedition came about when Brian Day O’Conner (Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s son) saw that I had done a book signing at the top of Kilimanjaro (another world record set by Capo) and decided to email me out of the blue and tell me about his upcoming journey to the Titanic,” said Capo. “I asked, ‘Hey, any room for another person?’ After ten months of strategic planning, the journey began. Never be afraid to ask for what you want in life, you may just get it!”

In 2005, Capo found herself going down in a submarine to the wreck of the Titanic, accompanied by none other than Titanic Director James Cameron, Dr. Anatoly Sagalevich, who designed the submersible and had a speaking part in the Titanic movie, other passengers and a full crew on a Russian recovery boat featured in the movie. A compact submersible seven feet in diameter, the vehicle known as the Kelydysh took the crew down 12,340 feet.

“Only 180 people in the world have visited the wreckage site,” said Capo, “more people have gone to space.”

The journey took three-and-a-half hours and revealed a host of seaborne wonders at its destination, 380 miles Southeast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic Ocean. Capo shared, “You see white starfish, then you see the bough 10 feet from you, two and a half miles down, you see rusticles. In maybe 70 years, the entire ship will be gone. You see the engine room, bottles, cups, debris. I got as a souvenir a full-sized cup that became a thimble outside of the submersible.”

Capo and company also saw the Titanic bough, Capt. Smith’s cabin, a tow, a portal window, sealife, piping in the stern, a propeller buried in the sea floor, a stern and bow and a shiny Cupid automation that notified first class passengers as to when it was time for dinner onboard.

Capo brought many personal touches to her voyage. “I brought a pendant that my mother bought after the release of the movie, which she loved. The pendant was fashioned after the necklace Rose (played by Kate Winslet) wore in the movie,” she said. “It meant a lot to her that I brought it and was photographed with it onboard. It also meant a lot that I read a prayer read by a US Navy Chaplain. I actually completed a course and became an ordained minister, just so I could read the prayer.”

Like her mom, Capo is an avid fan of the Titanic movie that was first released in 1997, and starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. In its original run, Titanic won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, and was the first movie to gross one billion in ticket sales. The movie was re-released on Feb. 10, a 4K 3D HDR production that will come complete with a new poster and trailer.

“Jack and Rose were both fictional characters, with Rose being based on a real-life artist. There was, however, a woman named Rosa who survived the Titanic,” she explained.

Yet, it was truly Capo’s sense of adventure that inspired her to journey to the site of the Titanic. “My adventurous spirit was born when I was four or five, and I went to the circus,” she said. “I’ve also wanted to try new things, to be adventurous. My slogan is, ‘Fear nothing, but if you do, do it anyway.’”

Learn more about Fran Capo at https://francapo.com/.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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