Meeting James Cameron–part one

My friend Giuliano called me shortly after 9 p.m. on 2-3-10 to inform me that “my friend” James Cameron was appearing on the Larry King show. I told Giuliano that I was on a Teleseminar; but after two  seconds of reflection, I said “Thanks. I gotta watch it!” realizing that my current priority was to reconnect with one of the world’s greatest geniuses.

I sat mesmerized in front of the TV as I watched Cameron, two of his major technical assistants, and some actors being interviewed about their role in “AVATAR”. Watching Jim speak reminded me of the evening I met him in Washington, DC a year and a half ago.  It will always be one of the most exciting and memorable events of my life: “The James Cameron Event” explained in the article below. In fact, I tell my friends that the opportunity to meet the man, felt like I had reached the top of Mount Everest.

  This is the first part of the article. I will blog two more times to share its entirety.


                    An Evening with James Cameron

                    Washington D.C., June 24, 2008

 Thank God I didn’t have to re-live another shipwreck, like the Andrea Doria, to feel a close connection with the 1997 movie, Titanic. As a guest at the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) dinner, Titanic’s Academy Award winning director sat one seat away from me. James Cameron was about to present his talk, ‘Undersea Exploration of the DKM Bismarck.

 I was introduced to the tall, stately looking gentleman by my friend William Garzke[1], one of Cameron’s chief consultants for his presentation on the Bismarck.

 “This is Pierette Simpson. She is a survivor of the Andrea Doria and has recently written an excellent book on the loss of this ship.”[2]

 The silver-haired gentleman extended his hand to me and graciously exclaimed, “You must have been very young.”

  I clumsily replied, “Probably not as young as you many think…but thank you for the compliment.” Shaking hands, I immediately I felt a warm connection to the film giant.

 Bill Garzke continued to explain: “I reviewed Pierette’s book for the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. We also collaborated on a report called ‘The Loss of the Andrea Doria’, which we presented in New York last week.”[3]

  I felt great pride being accepted by these legendary shipwreck experts. Immodestly, I added that Bill was my mentor and in collaboration we had become authorities on the Andrea Doria tragedy. Then, quickly, before someone else could intervene on what seemed to be a magical moment, I introduced Cameron to my companion, Richard Haskin. I was impressed that the special guest walked over to Richard to shake his hand; he could have more efficiently extended his hand across a few people. Immediately, Cameron became the consummate gentleman and scholar in my mind. These precious moments set the tone to what would turn out to be a night to remember.

 My friend Bill had helped to organize the evening’s event for the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE). Little did I know that Richard and I would sit at the ‘Reserved’ table, front and center, with Cameron and his three main consultants for the Bismarck presentation. After meeting all the distinguished scientists, I had a feeling that maybe I shouldn’t be drinking wine, for fear of losing coherence. I took a small sip anyway, hoping to put me more at ease.

[1] William Garzke is the national chairman of the marine forensics panel SD-7 of The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

[2] For a copy of the review, see “The Book”.  

[3] For a copy of the report, contact .

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