Christian chats with Gerald Zwicker, one of the HMS Bounty's shipwrights
18 October 1970|
|Died||October 29, 2012
|Known for||Alleged lineal descendant of Fletcher Christian, died when Bounty, the 1960 replica of HMS Bounty sank|
Christian claimed to be a lineal descendant of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutiny on the Bounty, and one of founders of the occupation of Pitcairn Island. In August 2012 Christian was interviewed by the Halifax Chronicle Herald, after she joined the volunteer crew of a replica of the original HMS Bounty, built by MGM for a film about the mutiny.
The vessel sailed into Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012. Fourteen members of the ship's complement were able to board a life raft and were saved. The Virginian-Pilot quoted United States Coast Guard Captain Joe Kelly, who described how Christian and the ship's captain Robin Walbridge were about to join the rest of the ship's complement in the life raft, when the Bounty rolled, plunging them into the ocean. However, according to later accounts from the survivors, they were all thrown into the water, and had desperately swum for one of the life rafts. Search and rescue crews from Coast Guard helicopters rescued the crew members from the life raft. When Christian was found, ten hours later, she was "unresponsive". Resuscitation was attempted, but she was pronounced dead in a shore-based hospital.
During her teenage years the Anchorage Daily News repeatedly mentioned Christian's theatrical and athletic performances. Christian was one of the opening acts when Marie Osmond had a gig in Anchorage in 1988. She competed as a gymnast, on the horse and as an athlete in a pole-vaulting team. She was also a member of her high school's cheerleading squad.
She graduated from the University of Southern California, in 1992. She studied Sports Information there, and was also a "USC Song Girl"—what the University of Southern California calls cheerleaders. She also joined the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. It was while serving as a cheerleader that she founded Cheerleader Doll, a company authorized to produce dolls the size of Barbie dolls, wearing the uniforms of college cheerleading squads.
The dolls manufactured by Christian's company, Cheerleader Doll, were authorized to use the uniforms of approximately 150 teams. Christian had also been a partner in a bar (Dragons) in Hermosa Beach, California, and an executive at a racing track.
In April 2002 the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported on three intellectual property suits between Cheerleader Doll and Mattel, the manufacturer of Barbie Dolls. Claudene Christian initiated the first lawsuit, claiming a Mattel doll of a cheerleader improperly copied a Cheerleader Doll design. Mattel was able to establish, to the court's satisfaction, that the cheerleader doll they were marketing was based on a Mattel design that preceded Cheerleader Doll's. Mattel won and Cheerleader Doll was ordered to pay $100,000. Subsequently her father and partner, Harry Christian, initiated a second lawsuit. Christian sought 2.4 billion dollars and various forms of injunctive relief. She lost, and the district court awarded Mattel $501,565 in attorney's fees.
Bounty's owners sued for negligence
CNN reported in May 2013 that Christian's family were suing the Bounty' owners, the HMS Bounty Organization. They claimed the Bounty was unseaworthy on its last voyage, and that the Captain and the ship's owners made the unwise decision to head into Hurricane Sandy, rather than seek the shelter of a harbor.
- Claudene Christian Obituary Anchorage Daily News
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