S.S. Argentina

Memories & Photos


Post-war Memorial Library - Each of the three Good Neighbor vessels carries a memorial library, dedicated to the men of the armed forces who sent in her to meet the enemy and gave their lives.  Each of the three is named for a member of the Moore-McCormack staff who died in the war.

The First Class Library was named for a former chief officer of the S.S. Argentina, Captain Henry Olin Billings, who died a hero's death in World War II when his ship, the George Thatcher, his first command, was blown to pieces off the African coast on November 1, 1942.

Captain Billings was a member of the Moore-McCormack family from September of 1930 until his death, working his way up from third officer to master.  In the Henry Olin Billings Library, on the S.S. Argentina, a bronze plaque had been placed, which indicated that Captain Billings had been chosen as representative of the thousands of young Americans who went out to their last rendezvous aboard this ship.  The plaque read as follows:

"To the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States who went in this ship to meet the enemy in World War II and gave their lives that the ideals of their country might survive, this library is reverently dedicated."


On November 5, 1948, "Coronet" photographer Ruth Orkin, well-known lens artist, boarded the S.S. Argentina to write a story on the ship for the magazine.  Miss Orkin who had numerous picture stories in "Coronet," "Look," "This Week," and other magazines, photographed five different groups of passengers as they participated in ship activities, and on shore excursions.

The article was featured in the October 1949 issue of "Coronet" magazine entitled "Dream Cruise."  [See Artifacts for the S.S. Argentina to view some of her photos from the magazine.  Permission to place photos on the web site was granted by Mary Engel, daughter of Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel.]

Ruth Orkin was the only child of Mary Ruby, a silent movie actress, and Samuel Orkin, a mechanical wizard.  At 17 years of age, Ruth Orkin became well known for pedaling her bicycle from Hollywood (where she lived) to the 1939 World's Fair in New York City.  In 1943 she moved to New York.  In 1951 she lived on a kibbutz for several months in Israel and during the same year she went to Italy and photographed her award-winning photograph, "American Girl in Italy."    In 1952, while filming  "Little Fugitive," she married the photographer, Morris Engel.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.  Later they made a second award winning film entitled, "Lovers and Lollipops."   She later took photos of New York from her apartment across from Central Park.  The series of photos were published in two books:  "A World Through My Window" and "More Pictures From My Window." 

"Taking pictures is my way of asking people to 'look at this - look at that'. If my photographs make the viewer feel what I did when I first took them - 'isn't this funny/terrible/moving/beautiful?' - then I've accomplished my purpose." Ruth Orkin.

(b. 09/03/1921 - d. 01/16/1985)

Emily Timoney, RN, and Ship's Doctor aboard the S.S. Argentina in 1950.

(Courtesy of Emily's sister, Virginia Statile)

Commodore Thomas N. Simmons on the bridge around 1958.  (Courtesy of Robert and Kenneth Bradsell)

March 1951 - Clark Gable and his wife, Lady Sylvia Ashley, see friends off on the S.S. Argentina.  Lady Ashley and Clark were only married 17 months.  She started divorce proceedings shortly after this photo was taken.

January 29, 1952, Maracas Beach, Trinidad -- Standing from left to right -- Mr. and Mrs. Carleton Palmer, Commodore Thomas N. Simmons (S.S. Argentina), Mrs. A. V. Moore, Mrs. J. L. Bayne, Mrs. Onetta, Jack Neilan, Mary Hurley, Eleanor Britton, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Haslam, and Mr. A. V. Moore.  Kneeling from left to right -- Mr. Bayne, Tom Baker, and Mr. Onetta.  (Courtesy of John-Paul DeRosa)

Early 1950s -- Jinx Falkenberg and Eleanor Britton.  Jinx was a tennis star-actress-model who graced more than 200 magazine covers in her career.  She entertained the troops during World War II and was known to have "a body to die for."  She and her husband, radio-TV talk show pioneer, Tex McCrary, gave America its first real talk show, radio, and TV known as "Tex and Jinx."  (Courtesy of John-Paul DeRosa)

Eleanor Britton and Captain Harry N. Sadler.  Captain Sadler could have been visiting the S.S. Argentina or he could have been relieving Commodore Thomas N. Simmons.  (Courtesy of John Paul DeRosa)

Harry Mahr, Robert Melsopp, Purser, and Joe Marchetti on her deck.  (Courtesy of Karin Cleary)

Purser Robert Melsopp, Bob Spratt, and Joe Marchetti on her deck in the evening.  (Courtesy of Karin Cleary)

S.S. Argentina docked in Rio de Janeiro during the late 1940s.  (Courtesy of Bill Longo)

Cover for the June 1949 issue of "The Mooremack News."  Someone asked how long is the S.S. Argentina?  Miles, apparently, if the photograph on their issue cover means what it says.  At least she would appear to stretch from the Empire State building at her stern to the Woolworth building at her bow, as she steams out of New York Harbor.  Ray Chanaud made the photo from the Edmund Russell, the Mooremack tug, which at the time was running at top speed to keep ahead of the big ship.

1948 -- "Ship Reporter" appeared over the television station of the American Broadcasting Company, and featured an interview with Sascha Siemel, noted lecturer and hunter and known as the "Tiger Man."  The interview was held aboard the S.S. Argentina just after it docked at Pier 32 and was recorded on a motion picture film.  Mr. Siemel arrived from Brasil and related his experiences when hunting for the ferocious jaguars of the State of Mato Grosso to Jack Mangan, producer of the program.  Mr. Mangan is shown at the left in the photo as he interviewed the "Tiger Man."

S.S. Argentina

S.S. Argentina, escorted by Moran tug Grace Moran, entering New York Harbor in 1954. 

Photo courtesy of Capt. Tom Ellsworth Copyright 2003-2004 - All rights reserved. Do not reproduce. If anyone wants copies, please email Tom at tbells@cox.net.

S.S. Argentina

S.S. Argentina, dressed ship at anchor.

Photo courtesy of Capt. Tom Ellsworth Copyright 2003-2004 - All rights reserved. Do not reproduce. If anyone wants copies, please email Tom at tbells@cox.net.


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