Ari Onassis was a business partner but above all a very good friend of mine for many years until his death in 1975. It was great to know him and fantastic to be involved in his odyssey and contributes to build his empire. There are so many things that are said about Ari and by creating this blog I want to reflect the reality about him to make sure his memory is not stained by gossiping people that don't know anything about him. You can also view my website:

www.olympicvessels.com

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Aristotle Onassis & Jackie Kennedy


Happier than expected? (wireimage.com)
Ari and Jackie Odd couple?


Even among those who knew them as real people and appreciated their human complexities, the marriage of Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis is often reduced to a clash of identity labels: age, social backgrounds, physical appearance, nationality, education, ethnicity, religion.

A number of internal yet powerful factors, however, allowed their genuine mutual affection to develop into a mature appreciation if not romantic love for who each really was as a person.

Common bonds?
Common bonds?

Ari and Jackie could turn on intense passion for what moved them. His was more verbal and explosive and hers was more poetic and ethereal. Often neglected in examinations of what made their marriage tick is their mutual passion for one subject which came to the fore when they were literally on common ground.
For well over half of their six year and five month marriage, Ari and Jackie Onassis shared a depth of knowledge about Greek culture and continuously pursued even more of it. No place seemed to focus this passion more than the base they shared, a place in that country of unearthly natural beauty, their home of Skorpios Island (which they tended to spell with a “c” not a “k”).


Not long after the wedding, the press began speculating on the couple's presumed lavish lifestyle.
Press speculation on their lifestyle.


The immediate public reaction to the October 20, 1968 Onassis marriage was hostile shock.
Even Mao gossiped about Ari and Jackie.
Even Mao gossiped about Ari and Jackie.

Within two weeks, however, an intense curiosity about the newlyweds arose around the world, arousing seemingly everyone with an opinion about the match.

Even the usually humorless Mao Tse-tung, revolutionary Chairman of Communist China, couldn’t refrain from a bit of speculative, amused gossip about the marriage: “If Soviet premier Khrushchev had been killed instead of Kennedy, I don’t think Mr. Onassis would have married Mrs Kruschev.”
Not only supermarket gossip magazines but legitimate news sources were soon enough offering sweeping assessments about the newlyweds, based on tidbits emerging in off-handed remarks by those who had been with them on Scorpios.


Jackie Onassis wearing the jewel-encrusted "Apollo 11" earrings shaped like the moon with attached rockets encircling them, a gift from Ari. (Corbis)
Jackie Onassis wearing the jewel-encrusted “Apollo 11″ earrings shaped like the moon with attached rockets encircling them, a gift from Ari. 

Ari's diamond ring for Jackie.
Ari’s diamond ring for Jackie.


Ari’s wealth and Jackie’s fame were always an element in the stories about them.
Most of the news about them was drivel, reporting what diamonds Ari allegedly placed on her breakfast tray or what type of caviar Jackie ordered for their baked potatoes in restaurants, all tapping into the mythically outlandish assumptions always made about the outrageously rich.
Then a story about a pre-nuptial contract appeared.


Ari and Jackie Onassis exit a restaurant into a paparazzi barrage.
Going…

As the media evolved the story of just what was in this reputed legal document between Ari and Jackie, the more prurient the claims of codicils dictating the number of nights they must share a bedroom or the weekly allocation of funds he gave her which she must spend in Greece.


Coming...
Coming…

No copy or original of such a document ever appeared if, in fact, it ever existed.
With or without a news story that might be factual or fantastical, photos of Ari and Jackie Onassis by the thousands continually appeared in newspapers and magazines.
Invariably, however, the pictures showed them entering or exiting cars, restaurants and airports.
All the public really learned about them as people was that they didn’t drive themselves, liked to eat out and took planes more than boats to get around the world.
Only those very few people invited to spend time with both of them in the rooms of their private spaces shared by the couple who had a real sense of how they lived, be it on the yacht or the island.


An invitation engraved with this return address was rare.
An invitation engraved with this return address was rare.

The Yacht: Christina

The most prurient yet persistent question, however, remained unanswered: what did the room they shared look like?


The prize of his life: Onassis and his yacht in the late 50s.
The prize of his life: Onassis and his yacht in the late 50s.

Certainly, if one looked for indications of the presumably extravagant lifestyle in the private home shared by one of the world’s wealthiest men and one of the world’s most famous women, there was more than ample evidence for it in the outfitting of the famous Onassis yacht, the Christina.


Following a restoration of the yacht long after Ari and Jackie Onassis lived on it, the famous barstools remained. (Dana Jenkins)
Following a restoration of the yacht long after Ari and Jackie Onassis lived on it, the famous barstools remained.

There were tales of solid-gold bathroom fixtures, the bar with stools covered in whale scrotum skin, the wood-paneled library with working fireplace, and the mosaic tile dance floor which could be lowered into a swimming pool.
As photos showed, all three claims were true.


The dance floor converted to a pool.




The dance floor converted to a pool.

At one point early in their marriage, Ari and Jackie Onassis gave access to the rooms of their yacht and island to a native Greek paparazzi they trusted. Several years ago, some of the images he snapped appeared on the market for sale.
Please check the numerous vintage images of the Christina O yacht that can be seeon on my blog, they offer a suggestion of how the couple lived, at least while aboard the yacht.



A guest lavatory.





The Island: Skorpios

Unlike the photographs of the yacht, those taken of the Onassis family, and the former First Lady in particular, and their life on Skorpios and Athens are almost all previously unpublished, certainly in the U.S.


Skorpios.
Skorpios.

Since the $153 million sale and recent possession of Skorpios and its three residences by Ekaterina and Dmitry Rybolovleva,, a family photo album was discovered.
The color images provide the first pubic glimpse into the place Ari and Jackie Onassis called home, although it is difficult to always discern which rooms are from which house.
The main house is a large villa situated at an elevation affording breathtaking views of the water from stone terraces.
Apparently built by Onassis for Jackie, its grand exterior seems to belie a simple and modern interior architecture.
"Jackie's Villa," the larger of the two main houses.
“Jackie’s Villa,” the larger of the two main houses.
The Onassis's "Pink House."
The Onassis’s “Pink House.”
A closer view of the Pink House..
A closer view of the Pink House..

Nearer the shore is a smaller house, Its exterior walls covered in the sandstone which traditionally mark those seen in Mediterranean homes but painted a soft shade which gave it a magical glow at dusk.

He called it “The Pink House.”Onassis had purchased Skorpios only six years before Jackie Kennedy came to live there with him as his wife.
There are three residences on the island and several smaller buildings which can house up to almost fifty guests, the thirty servants and eighteen gardeners who worked there full-time and utility centers for the considerable upkeep of the entire property.

The recently-discovered color images of the Onassis Skorpios island rooms, appearing in numerous Greek publications but none thus far, apparently, in the U.S. do not delineate which room is from which home, but some scrutiny of the exterior structure of “Jackie’s Villa,” and the “Pink House” offer some suggestion. It is unclear if a family member took the images in the 1970s or later, during the brief occupancy of Christina Onassis alone, or who the original photographer and thus copyright holder may be.

Certainly, an inviting space seen in the new pictures is a large living room with breathtaking views of the island. It seems fairly clear that this room was located on perhaps of the second story of “Jackie’s Villa.” Some of the images, once enlarged, become blurry but nevertheless provide a sense of the room.


The large windows of the main living room on the upper floor offered breathtaking views of Skorpios.
The large windows of the main living room on the upper floor offered breathtaking views of Skorpios.

Another corner of the Onassis living room.
Another corner of the Onassis living room.

A corner of the Onassis living room.
A corner of the Onassis living room.

Onassis bedroom with traditional chintzes and native woods.
Onassis bedroom with traditional chintzes and native woods.

Jackie Onassis's private bedroom in the Pink House, with the wrought-iron canopy, made in Greece; it seems to be the same one she later used on her Martha's Vineyard home.
Jackie Onassis’s private bedroom in the Pink House, with the wrought-iron canopy, made in Greece; it seems to be the same one she later used on her Martha’s Vineyard home.

Household manager Marta Scubin with Ari and Jackie Onassis in the Pink House on Skorpios; the picture is from Scubin's cookbook about her years with Mrs. Onassis, Cooking for Madame)
Household manager Marta Scubin with Ari and Jackie Onassis in the Pink House on Skorpios; the picture is from Scubin’s cookbook about her years with Mrs. Onassis, Cooking for Madame)

The pool and a man-made waterfall at left.
The pool and a man-made waterfall at left.

There are two clay tennis courts, a swimming pool with an impressive fountain beside it, even a farmhouse where goats and other livestock were raised to produce fresh dairy products, meats and cheese.
A greenhouse afforded freshly-cut flowers all year. There was a helipad built to permit the Onassis helicopter a place to land. His two seaplanes were docked at an interior cove, reached by small launches.


The Greek Orthodox chapel where Jackie and Onassis wed and where he remains buried in a family crypt with his children Alex and Christina.
The Greek Orthodox chapel where Jackie and Onassis wed and where he remains buried in a family crypt with his children Alex and Christina.

There is also a modest Greek Orthodox chapel. This was not only where Jackie Kennedy married Onassis but also where he remains buried in a crypt, along with his son, daughter and one of his sisters.

A lushly wild but otherwise barren property when Onassis first purchased it, he immediately began landscaping portions of Skorpios with pine and palm trees and those bearing fruit and nuts. Paved roadways encircle the island and a drive through an endless grove of olive trees is said to be an especially magical experience.

Pine trees were among the many types of green life Ari landscaped into Skorpios as this view shows looking out from the island.
Pine trees were among the many types of green life Ari landscaped into Skorpios as this view shows looking out from the island.

There is also a desalination plant but no fresh-running water, which must be brought from a nearby mountain top. Onassis bought the mountain. There is also a large electrical generator.
After coming to live on Skorpios, Jackie Kennedy would introduce wild blueberry bushes into the loamy soil near the shoreline, the moisture and temperature being a perfect match to that of Long Island’s East Hampton in New York where she’d spent many hours of her childhood summers rambling through the brush gathering and snacking on her favorite fruit.


ome of the birds naetie to Skorpios.
Some of the birds naetie to Skorpios.

The thick underbrush of bushes and shrubs that Onassis had also transplanted seemed to have matured right on schedule by the time of his second marriage.
The couple happily discovered that it served as a protective wall of cover resistant to the prying telephoto lenses of paparazzi who rowed as close as they could to the island without getting arrested for trespassing.

The foliage is also home to a wide variety of native and exotic birds who flocked their feathers there permanently for several generations now.
While the edges of the island were landscaped and maintained, the vast majority of it remained wild and overgrown with a forest variety indigenous to other Ionian Sea islands.
The simple homes and the relatively plain rooms seem to have been created to give fuller attention to the more remarkable natural beauty of Skorpios which surrounds them.

Almost more impressive than any structure on the island is the precise and meticulous stone masonry work of the courtyards, terraces and balconies around the homes, the stairs and the walls which lined the paved driveways and walkways.
None of this was ever apparent in the relatively few images of Skorpios which had been previously seen publicly.


One of several areas finished with flagstone overlooking the water.
One of several terraces finished with flagstone overlooking the water.



Along with the breaktaking natural life, Skorpios has expert masonry work craftsmanship, using flagstone, brick, pebbles and native stones.
Along with the breaktaking natural life, Skorpios has expert masonry work craftsmanship, using flagstone, brick, pebbles and native stones. This image shows the Christina at dock.

Ari and Jackie reading on the "back porch" of "Jackie's Villa." (picturecollect)
Ari and Jackie reading on the “back porch” of “Jackie’s Villa.” (picturecollect)

A terrace outside "Jackie's Villa."
A terrace outside “Jackie’s Villa.”

On another side of the island, in a lagoon cove of quieter waters, Onassis found the perfect spot for a private beach.
To create it instantly, he shipped in tens of thousands of tons of fine sand. Here he built a one-story beach cottage with terra-cotta walls and open-air windows through which soft breezes wafted.
The family referred to it as the “taverna.”



The "taverna" on Skorpios.
The “taverna” on Skorpios.

Alongside the beach cottage was an outdoor brick terrace, shaded by a cover of reed twigs and the thickening green leaves of growing grapes which ripened, ready for picking in summer.



View of the cove from the "taverna" patio.
View of the cove from the roof of the “taverna.”

Beneath there were rattan scooped-out oval chairs with white-piping blue cushions, similar to those found in the houses and on the yacht. Inside was a simple kitchen where afternoon luncheons of freshly-caught fish, and salads of greens, onions, peppers and beets which were all grown on Skorpios, were prepared. A big fan of cucumbers, Jackie also had a small garden of these also planted, yielding enough of a harvest to supply her and her guests with the green in all forms, including her particular favorite cold cucumber soup.


“Jackie O “in the shade of the grape arbor.
Jackie Onassis carrying out food to the lunch table.
Jackie Onassis carrying out food to the lunch table.

Jackie Onassis getting the lunch table ready at the %22taverna.%22
Jackie Onassis getting the lunch table ready at the “taverna.”



Jackie Onassis especially protected her time on Skorpios when she could be there alone with Ari. It was on the island, she later reflected, that he was at his best, relaxed, generous, philosophical and funny. The moment he was on the Christina, he would inevitably retreat after breakfast to his office, entirely absorbed in his business matters, emerging only briefly for meals, working into the wee hours with very little sleep.

Yet even on this remote paradise with all of its houses, this person who fiercely protected her personal privacy needed not only time alone for herself, but an isolated place for her solitude.
Also on Skorpios, tucked into a cove which is so shrouded in a tall, leafy grove where the water laps the shore is a small and simple cottage, with one door, that Ari built for Jackie Onassis. More than any other place, this was “Jackie’s Villa.”

As much as she was able to control his schedule, Jackie Onassis resisted inviting too many guests for too long a time to Skorpios, and usually did so only when she knew her husband would be away from her for an extended period.

Her stepson and stepdaughter, Alex and Christina Onassis would drop in frequently but as young adults more often than not preferred to spend their time among their young European crowd in the south of France, London or New York.


It wasn't that Onassis didn't love his children; problems came from his never expressing it and his tyranny towards them. (viewimages.com)
It wasn’t that Onassis didn’t love his children; problems came from his never expressing it and his tyranny towards them.

While Alex and Christina Onassis have always been depicted as hating their stepmother, it wasn’t a matter of particularly disliking Jackie Kennedy as much as that their father’s remarriage forever ended their hope he’d someday remarry their mother Tina Livanos. They had resented their father’s mistress Maria Callas with equal intensity.

Another ignored factor was that Alex Onassis had begun to display an open hostility towards his father before his marriage to Jackie Kennedy, a resentment of Ari’s intense control to groom him as heir to all of his many business interests.

Christina Onassis (seen here with her father during his wedding reception) was less hostile to her new stepmother.
Christina Onassis (seen here with her father during his wedding reception) was less hostile to her new stepmother.

And yet, as pictures show, Alex also had many times he got on just fine with his father and stepmother, even joining them for an Athens nightclub bash in Athens that Ari hosted for Jackie’s 40th birthday.

Onassis listens to his son Alexander at anightclub.
Onassis listens to his son Alexander at anightclub.

Of course, pictures don’t reveal what was widely reported as his outright nasty treatment of “the American” as he called his stepmother behind her back.
While Alex Onassis refused to acknowledge Jackie when they were forced to sit at the same table, he never openly belittled her.
In contrast, he told his own mother he would never see or speak to her again, after she married Stavros Niarchos, who was not only his father’s primary rival but her late sister’s husband.



Although she voiced the same sentiments about Jackie to her brother, Christina Onassis more frequently visited her father and Jackie. Her stepmother managed to grow somewhat close to her in the early years of the marriage and they were often hiking companions around Skorpios. She encouraged Christina to date Peter Goulandris, whose family Jackie had known before her marriage to Onassis.
“Maria Callas never liked me very much,” Christina Onassis bluntly told a reporter in 1971, “but Jackie is mo stepmother and she is a great friend.”

Jacqueline Onassis, Caroline Kennedy and Christina Onassis attend Christmas church services in Lefkas, Greece, 1968. (Corbis)
Jacqueline Onassis, Caroline Kennedy and Christina Onassis attend Christmas church services in Lefkas, Greece, 1968. 

On several occasions, they went together to Catholic or Greek Orthodox church services on Sundays in the nearby towns.
During the Easter season in 1969, they even attended a service in each church.
Ari was not big on church.
Along with Alex, Christina also made at least one Christmas season and summer stay on Skorpios with them and Jackie’s children Caroline Kennedy and John Kennedy, Jr.

Ari and Alex Onassis looking over an open-pit barbeque of lamb on Scorpios.
Ari and Alex Onassis looking over an open-pit barbeque of lamb on Scorpios.

While the two Onassis children’s deep-seated dislike of Jackie Kennedy continued, they instantly liked and befriended the two Kennedy children.

During a Mets game at Shea Stadium, Ari Onassis chats with his wife, stepdaughter and stepson.
During a Mets game at Shea Stadium, Ari Onassis chats with his wife, stepdaughter and stepson.

When the children of the late U.S. President were in Greece, they were also joined by the Secret Service agents who would continue to protect them until they reached the age of 16 years old, and their presence afforded Ari and Jackie Onassis a bit more privacy.
John Kennedy, Jr. formed a friendly bond with his stepfather, who especially rose in his estimation after Ari gave him a gift of a speedboat.

John Kennedy, Jr. and his stepfather looking over the yacht railing together.
John Kennedy, Jr. and his stepfather looking over the yacht railing together.

They often stayed up talking late into the night.
And while it was no yacht, like the one named for his own daughter, Onassis also gave his stepdaughter the gift of a vessel, named for her.

Marta Scubin aboard the Caroline sailboat.
Marta Scubin aboard the Caroline sailboat.

The large, bright-red sailboat Caroline provided the children and their governess Marta Scubin, who Ari Onassis had first interviewed before Jackie did, a way to go off and explore different islands around Greece for journeys of several days endurance.
Onassis once spoke candidly about his role as a stepfather to the children of the late President Kennedy:

The Kennedy kids and their cousin Tina enjoy the trampoline which Ari Onassis installed for them on Scorpios. (photo by Marta Scubin)
The Kennedy kids and their cousin Tina enjoy the trampoline which Ari Onassis installed for them on Scorpios. (photo by Marta Scubin)

Jackie is often at the other end of the world with her children – whom I should say I love very much.
But they need time to get used to me, and I want to give them that time.
Caroline and John Kennedy with cousin Tony on the motorboat Onassis gave his stepson. (Getty)
Caroline and John Kennedy with cousin Tony on the motorboat Onassis gave his stepson. 

They need time to understand that their mother has remarried and that I want to be their friend, and not replace their father, whom I admired so much. A father cannot be replaced, especially one like John Kennedy.
I only desire that they consider me a best friend.

Ron Gallela captured this picture of Ari joining Jackie Onassis on the balcony of 1040 to watch a parade.
Ron Gallella captured this picture of Ari joining Jackie Onassis on the balcony of 1040 to watch a parade.

When Jackie and her children were living in their 1040 Fifth Avenue apartment in New York during the school year, Onassis lived there with them during his brief business trips of several days duration.

During several of her visits to New York, Christina Onassis also stayed at 1040 at Jackie’s insistence. Before that, Christina Onassis had been making a New York hotel suite her home, living alone since her late teens.
There were inevitably the tense moments when the children of one spouse irritated the other partner. No matter how politely Jackie Onassis smiled back in response to the rude grunts of Alex Onassis or his ignoring of her expressed interest in his activities, she got no where.
She finally blew up, bewildered as to why Ari’s son could not even act civilly towards her. Onassis shot back that he’d take care of his kids and she should take care of her own.

Onassis strong-arms his stepson into the car as the paparazzi appear to snap his mother. (Corbis)
Onassis strong-arms his stepson into the car as the paparazzi appear to snap his mother.

On occasion, however, Onassis could burst his legendary temper on John Kennedy, like the time the boy had gotten the the bits of hair from his freshly-cut head trim all over the yacht furniture.
Yet he unleashed his anger on everyone in his own family and Jackie as well. If anything, Ari Onassis tended to be a bit worried and even more over-protective of her son than Jackie could be.


The Bouvier sisters chat while cruising  on the Caroline.
The Bouvier sisters chat while cruising on the Caroline.

Once the Kennedy children were on summer vacation from school, they joined their mother and stepfather on Scorpios for most of June and July, frequently, they were joined by their aunt and uncle, Stas and Lee Radziwill, Jackie’s brother-in-law and sister, and their children, first cousins Tony and Tina Radziwill.

In the summer of 1971, Jackie invited her friend photographer Peter Beard to join them on Scorpios, a period he recalled as idyllic and full of natural beauty and humor.

Jackie Onassis takes a dip in the Scorpios lagoon with her brother-in-law Stas Radziwill. (Corbis)
Jackie Onassis takes a dip at Scorpios with Stas Radziwill. 
Ari gets a flower tucked in his kerchief by Jackie. (PBeard)
Ari gets a flower tucked in his kerchief by Jackie. (Peter Beard)

He even managed to coax Ari to slip one of Jackie’s head on, then tucked a flower in it and snapped a picture of him.
While Jackie’s protection and nurturing of her children legitimately earned her the reputation of being a passionately devoted mother, by the time they were teenagers, she also protected her own time alone.

On the David Letterman Show several years ago, Caroline Kennedy recalled a “character-building” stunt her mother used to give herself a bit of solitude:

Outside of this “blended” family of four children, brought together by divorce and death, Ari and Jackie Onassis shared most of their life in Greece and on Skorpios with extended family members.


Jackie Onassis and Rose Kennedy, emerging from a Sunday Catholic mass in Athens. (UPI)
Jackie Onassis and Rose Kennedy, emerging from a Sunday Catholic mass in Athens.

Rose Kennedy, mother of Jackie’s first husband, had actually known Onassis socially since the 1950s when she and her husband met him in Cannes.

That she gave her blessing to her daughter-in-law’s controversial re-marriage proved to be not only a grateful relief to Jackie but seemed to mark a turning point in their relationship.
Drawing closer to each other, Rose Kennedy was a guest on both the Christina and on Scorpios and the Onassises also came to visit at her family’s winter home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Although President Kennedy‘s sisters Jean Kennedy Smith and Pat Kennedy Lawford had come with Jackie Kennedy to her 1968 wedding on Scorpios, along with the three Lawford daughters, they did not return for a visit.


Following the Onassis-Kennedy wedding, the late president's sisters Jean Smith and Pat Lawford returned from Greece, escorting home to New York their niece and nephew. (Corbis)
Following the Onassis-Kennedy wedding, the late president’s sisters Jean Smith and Pat Lawford returned from Greece, escorting home to New York their niece and nephew. 

The only other member of the Kennedy family who would come to visit Scorpios and visit Jackie in her new life there was her brother-in-law, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.
In the summer months between the June assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Onassis-Kennedy wedding in October, Ari Onassis came to visit the Kennedy family compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
Despite the darkness her husband’s recent murder had left upon her, Ethel Kennedy’s humor returned during Ari’s visit, she and Onassis teasing each other through an evening gathering of the extended family. However startling the match might be to them, those family members of President Kennedy at the dinner were welcoming to Ari.

Onassis would also visit the Newport, Rhode Island estate of Jackie Kennedy’s mother and stepfather, Janet Lee and Hugh Auchincloss.


In the summer of 1968, Onassis was a guest of Hugh and Janet Auchincloss at their Newport, Rhode Island estate Hammersmith Farm.
In the summer of 1968, Onassis was a guest of Hugh and Janet Auchincloss at their Newport, Rhode Island estate Hammersmith Farm.

Janet Auchincloss had been especially displeased about the impending marriage, although it had not yet been officially announced.

During the visit she was fascinated by a little tape recorder and cassettes of classical music which Onassis listened to as he worked virtually through the entire night. At the end of the stay, he gave it to her as a gift. She protested that it was too generous for him to part with his prized music player – causing family members to laughingly assure her that Onassis could surely afford to buy another one for himself.
Still, when her daughter made an unexpected call and asked her to release an announcement to the press that she was marrying Onassis, Janet Auchincloss was flabbergasted and madly tried to talk Jackie out of it.

Onassis and his mother-in-law Janet Auchincloss.
Onassis and his mother-in-law Janet Auchincloss.
Although she and her husband came to the wedding on Scorpios, she insistently whispered in Jackie’s ear, even as she walked down the aisle of the chapel, “You don’t have to go through with this!”
Hugh and Janet Auchincloss made their peace with Jackie’s decision, and they also made at least one known lengthy stay on Scorpios during the 1969-1970 holiday season.
Using the island as their home base, Jackie Onassis and her children took her mother and stepfather to various other islands and towns in Greece.

Jackie's mother Janet Auchincloss on her last trip to Scorpios, 1975. (Corbis)
Jackie’s mother Janet Auchincloss on her last trip to Scorpios, 1975. 

Out of a sense of duty, Janet Auchincloss would return to Scorpios one more time in 1975. It was for the burial of Onassis there.
When Onassis was in New York, he also encountered his mother-in-law if she happened to be visiting her daughter’s apartment. Family friend Ros Gilpatric recalled the deadpan look Ari humorously shot his way when he came into the living room at 1040. Jackie had invited Ros up without telling him why. He was to be Rose Kennedy’s bridge partner, pitted against the team of Onassis and Mrs. Auchincloss. Jackie giggled from behind a door, peeking in.

She never learned how to play bridge.
When Onassis had first visited Newport in 1968, he was accompanied not only by his daughter but his closest sister.

Artemis Onassis, the compassionate older sister of Ari who befriended Jackie Kennedy. (original photographer unknown)
Artemis Onassis Garoufalidis , the compassionate older sister of Ari who befriended Jackie Kennedy.

Of Ari’s three sisters, Meropi Konialidis and Kalliroe Patronikolas were by his widowed father’s second wife. His full sister Artemis was two years his senior and a welcome and frequent visitor to Skorpios. She lived with her husband Theodore )in a villa on Vassileo Georgiou in Glyfada, close to Ellinikon the Athens airport. The daily sound of planes ascending and landing didn’t bother her, she joked, because it reminded her how fortunate she was to have a brother who owned his own airline.
Thin, nervous and highly fashionable, Artemis took the tragedies that hit her life to heart: her family’s displacement and loss of fortune when she was young; the early death of her mother Penelope, the birth of a child with mental disabilities.


Upon arrival in Greece for her wedding, Jackie Kennedy was welcomed by her sister-in-law Artemis. (Argentia)
Upon arrival in Greece for her wedding, Jackie Kennedy was welcomed by her sister-in-law Artemis. (Argentia)

Always protective and supportive of her brother “Aristo,” as she called him, Artemis had a more patient and nuanced understanding of human nature than he did. She was extraordinarily humorous and hospitable.
Artemis had first met Jackie Kennedy when the First Lady and her sister Lee were guests on the Christina in October of 1963 and offered her a compassionate empathy following the death two months earlier of her infant son Patrick, a welcome warmth Jackie never forgot. When Mrs. Kennedy arrived in Greece for her wedding, it was Artemis who was there to embrace and whisk her away, shooing off reporters and paparazzi.

Artemis Onassis between her brother and Maria Callas, his mistress, on his yacht in Venice the day Callas announced her divorce and Onassis left his wife. (Corbis)
Artemis Onassis between her brother and Maria Callas, his mistress, on his yacht in Venice the day Callas announced her divorce and Onassis left his wife. 

A garden path connected Artemis’s Glyfada house to the one Ari Onassis kept there; her home was always the gathering place of the extended family. The matriarch filtered out the frauds who sought to infiltrate her brother’s circle and served as a maternal figure for her niece Christina, who lived in a suite at her aunt’s house
Artemis was relieved when Ari and Jackie married, never trusting his lover Maria Callas and never stopped imploring Alex and Christina to be more civil to their stepmother.

Eleven days after her brother married Jackie Kennedy, Artemis Onassis welcomed her new sister-in law back to Athens. (Corbis)
Eleven days after her brother married Jackie Kennedy, Artemis Onassis welcomed her new sister-in law back to Athens.

With Ari so often speeding out to the nearby airport and flying off to do business deals at points all over the world, it was Artemis who acted as a guide for Jackie Onassis who wanted to begin exploring Athens.
Her sister-in-law’s encouragement of her curiosity about the history and architecture of different parts of the city even led the former First Lady to revive her political lobbying skill for a public issue which would remain of lifelong concern to her.
As the American First Lady, Jackie Kennedy had famously helped save the rows of historic building on the east and west blocks which faced Lafayette Square, the White House facing it from the south, across the street. There had been a federal order to demolish these to make room for desperately needed office space for workers in the executive branch. The challenge which she successfully sought to address was a way to keep the historic character of this important public park where generations of people had gathered in times of national crisis and celebration, but to also have it serve the practical needs of contemporary society.
Little did she then know how that experience would now serve her in saving some Greek history while permitting the commerce of the present to flourish.

The 40th birthday of Jackie Kennedy Onassis on July 28, 1969 was celebrated at a raucous all-night bash in an Athens nightclub, hosted by her husband. It lasted until seven the next morning.


After her Athens 40th birthday bash, Jackie Onassis and sister-in-law Artemis stroll Pandrossou.
After her Athens 40th birthday bash, Jackie Onassis and sister-in-law Artemis stroll Pandrossou.


Emerging into the daylight not only with the famous Apollo 11 jeweled earrings he gave her as a gift but also wearing a wild mod-patterned micro mini-skirt, Jackie Onassis wasn’t ready to head home with him.
Instead, she decided to start walking through the city with Artemis, who led her into the streets of the ancient Monastiraki district.
Here was not only the local food markets but also storefronts, carts and open-air stalls where native Greek wares from glass, pottery, clothes, and other items were sold by the hand-craftsmen who made them.
As it would turn out, it would be a place to which Jackie Onassis would return many times overs the years. It was one of her favorite haunts in Athens.


Jackie Onassis shopping on Pandrossou Street where she met Melissinos the famous poet sandalmaker of Athens.
Jackie Onassis shopping on Pandrossou Street where she met Melissinos the famous poet sandalmaker of Athens.

The two women popped in and out of stores, looking over everything from jewelry made of old coins and polished-stone jewelry to natural sponges fished from the sea.
Once known by the flea market and shoe-making factories located there, Jackie Onassis meandered onto the historic section’s old, narrow Pandrossou Street, at the foot of the Acropolis, immediately drawn to a window filled with leather sandals in a wide variety of styles.


Jackie Onassis looks over some sandals.
Jackie Onassis looks over some sandals.

She entered to watch the craftsman inside as he tooled on a pair of footware, only to discover an instant affinity for him.
Sharing many of her own literary interests, Stavros Melissinos was a poet, playwright and translator known as the “Poet Sandal-Maker of Athens. ”

Before she left with several pairs of a particular design she liked and unwittingly popularized (and which he would later name after her), Jackie Onassis also learned that an entire portion of the historic shopping district was scheduled to be demolished.
The Jackie Onassis sandals.
The Jackie Onassis sandals.

The city had already begun scheduling plans to pull down building and make way for an archeological dig intended to uncover some of the ancient walls preserved within ones added later.

Pandrossou Street market today.
Pandrossou Street market today.

Melissinos recalled: “I explained to Mrs. Onassis that it would be good to see more of the old city’s walls and other buildings, but that we, also, are making history, and that it would be a pity if this street, which has its own character, were destroyed.
“Two days later I received a telephone call from the Ministry of Public Works saying that the street will stay.
Mrs. Onassis intervened. She said a word in the right place. They had already put the crosses on the pavements showing that this part was to come down, and then nothing more happened.”


Jackie Onassis checking out the marketplace.
Jackie Onassis checking out the marketplace.

Working discreetly but persistently through several powerful figures she met through Ari and Artemis, including her new friend Alexis Miotis, director of the Greek National Theater, Jackie Onassis had enough clout to halt the loss of what, although a relatively later historic district than that which was contemporary with the Acropolis, was a center of trade and tourism which helped the Athens economy.
Historical elements of the local architecture were restored to provide a sense of its ancient continuity yet also make Pandrossou Street a thriving center of practical and high-quality commerce.
Jackie Onassis also began to adventure into other parts of Greece, in pursuit of learning aspects of its diverse culture.


The Akrotiri archeological dig at Santorini.
The Akrotiri archeological dig at Santorini.

It was on the picturesque Santorini that she soon began to volunteer, working on the island’s famous ancient archeological dig site, uncovering the ancient village there of Akrotiri.


At an Athens restaurant, Ari was overheard teaching some Greek words to Jackie.
Ari was often overheard teaching some Greek words to Jackie Onassis.

Guided largely by her husband, Jackie Onassis immersed herself in Greek history, art and literature.
He taught her how to speak enough of a rudimentary Greek that she was soon speedily making herself familiar with idiomatic and dialect subtleties which differed in parts of the country.


Jackie Onassis explored many small and overlooked island villages all through Greece.
Jackie Onassis explored many small and overlooked island villages all through Greece.

First with him, and then on her own, she repeatedly visited Ari’s favorite place in Greece, the island of Ithaka. What she found especially intriguing about the island was what she considered its “mythological personality,” since legends written by Homer are associated with it, although the exact locations of where his stories are based could never be absolutely proven.
Especially interested in exploring it by foot, and spending hours ruminating at several archeological sites there, Jackie even out-Greeked Ari, who bored quickly when too much time was spent on too much detail.
After their marriage ended, in the summer after Ari Onassis’s death, Jackie purchased a book of poems by Greek poet C.F. Cavafy. In the volume, she was drawn to a poem which became a favorite.


Jackie Onassis in native Corfu costume.
Jackie Onassis in native Corfu costume.

It was titled “Ithaka,” and was even read at her funeral, evoking that time in her life which recalled Ari and Greece.
Closer to Skorpios is the island of Corfu. Its unique culture and diversely international history was of especial interest to Jackie Onassis. She first began to explore Corfu in the new year of 1970, following a church service at St. Gerry’s Church for the Epiphany festival on January 3, attending with her sister-in-law Artemis Onassis and both women dragging Ari along. Also with the family group was Jackie’s mother, Janet Auchincloss, and her two children Caroline and John.


Jackie Onassis in her folk costume walking through Corfu. (original photographer unknown)
Jackie Onassis in her folk costume walking through Corfu.

The people of Corfu may have roots back to ancient Greece but unlike the rest of the country, it is mixed and overlaid with centuries of other European conquerors and immigrants there, defining the island with a culture that is both part of Greece, yet distinct from it.
Located at the most western region of the country, it faces the Adriatic Ocean. Owing to waves of raids overtaking Corfu, the island culture came to reflect its English, Italian and French citizenry, blended into the base of a Greek and Byzantine.
When she took her mother there, for example, Mrs. Auchincloss was startled to see a British-style cricket game ensue and impressed to learn that Prince Phillip had been born here.
Alexis Minitos, Jackie Onassis, Stamatis Kokatos. (fotofinder)
Alexis Minitos, Jackie Onassis, Stamatis Kokatos. 

Always an eager hiker, Jackie Onassis made several trips climbing Mt. Pantocrator on Corfu, from which she especially enjoyed the scenic view of Italy’s coastline.

Corfu was also noted for its rich musical heritage, ranging from opera to chamber concert performances.
As far as popular Greek music, Jackie Onassis came to briefly befriend Stamatis Kokotas, one of the nation’s most popular contemporary singers who created a repertoire drawn from the traditional folk sound which defined Greece. She purchased a number of his records, as much to attempt to identify the Greek words he sang as listen to his music. Here is one of his recordings:

If she learned about Greek music from Kokotas, Jackie Onassis learned about Greek theater and literature from a distinguished source, perhaps the most important new friend she made in her new life, director and actor Alexis Minotis.

During a visit to Tehran, Iran, Ari and Jackie Onassis attended a cocktail party with the city's Greek community leader Dimitris Keletsekis,. Greek Ambassador Papadopoulos and Alexis Minotis, who stands next to Ari. (Getty)
During a visit to Tehran, Iran, Ari and Jackie Onassis attended a cocktail party with the city’s Greek community leader Dimitris Keletsekis,. Greek Ambassador Papadopoulos and Alexis Minotis, who stands next to Ari.

Minotis starred not only in numerous classical Greek plays but also those by Shakespeare. He also had a career in Hollywood, ranging from a role in Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1946 Notorious to Land of the Pharaohs (1955) with Joan Collins.

Ari and Jackie Onassis at a dinner with Greek leaders, including Minitos. (pacasa account/Dimitris Keletsekis)
Ari and Jackie Onassis at a dinner with Greek leaders, including Minitos. 

Considering the history of Ari and Jackie Onassis, it was also rather ironic that in 1958, Minotis had directed opera singer Maria Callas in a production of Medea, in the city of Dallas, Texas.
By the time Minitos and Jackie Onassis became friends, he was director of the Greek National Theater. In that role he joined her for numerous classical performances at Apitdeivros, the fourth century B.C. theater. They also attended the theater and opera together in New York. Apart from theater, they also shared a passion for rare, antiquarian books. It was Minitos who first brought Jackie Onassis to some of Athens’ rare bookstores.

Alexis Minitos and Jackie Onassis in an Athens rare bookstore. (photographer unknown)
Alexis Minitos and Jackie Onassis in an Athens rare bookstore. 

From her school years to that of First Lady, to widow, then a second marriage, then a second widowhood, until the end of her life Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis had a pattern of developing intense fascination with national cultures. She fueled this not only by reading traditional history and biography but studying the natural landscapes and the fine and performing arts of the different cultures. With her wealth and privilege, she was often able to fulfill her impulse to then see the particular lands she had studied, and given entree to places not often open to the public.

Jackie Onassis with her friend Niki Goulandris exiting her home in Kifissia, Athens.
Jackie Onassis with her friend Niki Goulandris exiting her home in Kifissia, Athens.

As suggested by her correspondence and book collection, through the years of her life she focused on France, England, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Scotland,Ireland, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, Turkey, Morocco, Hawaii, and China.


When it came to understanding the complexities and connections which defined Greece, however, Jackie Onassis not only had her books and husband as sources but her most accomplished friend in that country, the intellectual, artist, environmentalist, educator, philanthropist and government leader Niki Goulandris.
At the time Jackie Onassis was living in Greece, Niki Goulandris had co-founded with her husband Angelos the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Athens, was serving as President of the Association of Greek Women University Graduates, and would go on to serve as Greece’s Deputy Minister for Social Services and Deputy President of the Hellenic Radio and Television.

Jackie Onassis inspecting Greek antiquities in an Athens museum.
Jackie Onassis inspecting Greek antiquities in an Athens museum. 

After her second husband’s death, Jackie Onassis maintained her friendship with Niki Goulandris who then went on to serve as Greece’s President of Save the Children Association and Deputy President of National Tourism, and as a commissioner of the U.N.’s World Culture and Development Committee.
Traveling the world as a lecturer making the connections between environmental protection and economics, culture, her sensitivity to Greece’s natural world was also expressed in her work as a botanical illustrator, a talent Jackie Onassis shared.


The Athens home of Ari and Jackie Onassis. (Argenti)

The Athens home of Ari and Jackie Onassis. 

It was Niki who frequently escorted the former American First Lady to museums or recommended obscure but detailed exhibits that furthered her knowledge of aspects of Greece civilization. Although she had already seen many of the ancient ruins of the country, for example, Jackie Onassis returned to see them, now with a deeper grasp of their historical and cultural significance, refreshed by her finer education.

Ari Onassis plays the gallant, relieving Jackie Onassis from carrying a heavy bag as they arrive at their Athens home. (original photographer unknown)
Ari Onassis plays the gallant, relieving Jackie Onassis from carrying a heavy bag as they arrive at their Athens home. 

It wasn’t just the expert and the intellectuals of Greece who brought a welcome excitement to Jackie Kennedy’s new life there, but also the everyday people she encountered on the street.
The rest of the world might have disapproved of her new marriage, but wherever she went in Greece, especially in Athens, she encountered nothing but supportive approval.
While in Athens, Jackie Onassis lived at Ari’s home outside the central city in the Gylfada section, near the airport.
Also the home base of his son Alex Onassis, who continued his contentious hostility towards his stepmother, she seemed almost more a guest there. If he was there when her sister-in-law Artemis was at home in the adjoining house, reached through a garden connecting the two properties, Jackie spent her days next door.


Jackie Onassis outside the Paris apartment she shared with Ari.
Jackie Onassis outside the Paris apartment she shared with Ari.

In the Pink House on Skorpios, Jackie Onassis had free reign to redecorate the rooms in various pastel shades, matched to the changing light in the rooms as cast by the rising and setting sun. In the Athens residence, however, she dared not change anything.
It wasn’t just her long familiarity with Paris, but also the more pleasant home atmosphere which made the Onassis apartment there on the Avenue Foch a more comfortable place for Ari and Jackie to be in residence together. Even when her father was away, if Christina Onassis found herself alone with Jackie in their Paris place was exceedingly more polite than her brother.


Onassis bodyguards were no match for paparazzi intent on snapping Jackie Onassis. (Getty)
Onassis bodyguards were no match for paparazzi intent on snapping Jackie Onassis. (Getty)

The problem in Paris, as was true on Jackie Kennedy’s home turf of New York, was not inside the door, but just outside of it.
Wherever Jackie Onassis happened to be living at any given moment, there was always at least one paparazzi waiting outside, even through the night and the worst of weather conditions.
Photographers were never at ease when Mrs. Onassis was near, ready to snap her picture and sell it to a global marketplace of publications never satiated.

Exiting Maxim's, the favorite Paris restaurant of Ari and Jackie Onassis, 1974. (Conde Nast)
Exiting Maxim’s, the favorite Paris restaurant of Ari and Jackie Onassis, 1974.

Although the remarriage of the president’s widow meant she lost her Secret Service protection, Onassis hired private guards on certain occasions to keep crowds and paparazzi away, but even the regular number of drivers hired for her attempted to protect her.
None succeeded too well and as long as her safety was not threatened, Jackie Onassis seemed to often resign herself to being photographed daily.
In Paris and New York, however, this usually meant she was routinely seen getting in and out of cars, going in and out of stores, restaurants, museums, churches and hair salons.
Store owners and clerks, doormen and waiters, managers and maitre d’s not only did their part to escort Jackie Onassis in and out of their establishments to and from her waiting car, but to also keep away gawkers and those imploring her for an autograph or a few words.


In an era predating cellphone cameras, ensuring the absolute privacy of especially famous patrons was particularly expected in exclusive restaurants.
Not only did it preserve a certain cachet of mystery and appeal to such refined eateries, but it also spared movie stars, business tycoons and former First Ladies the risk of having the world see them reading menus with spectacles, spilling gravy on their clothes, smoking cigarettes or downing bottles of beer.
When Ari and Jackie Onassis came for dinner, Maxim’s of Paris adamantly enforced their unwritten rules about restricting all but familiarly-named patrons from getting inside the door.
On one occasion, when a French paparazzi managed to slip in and begin taking a few discreet snaps of Ari and Jackie Onassis at their favorite reserved corner table, the management did not merely eject him from the restaurant but called the police, threatening to hold him for arrest.
Of course, it was never bad for business to have the world know how frequently Ari and Jackie Onassis dined at Maxim’s, or any other restaurant. If paparazzi managed to find a discreet perch which gave them an unimpeded window view of the famous couple eating away, management could claim look away and claim ignorance of their presence.


Ari and Jackie Onassis enjoying a spirited dinner, unaware that a paparazzi just outside the window was snapping them. (original photographer unknown)
Ari and Jackie Onassis enjoying a spirited dinner, unaware that a paparazzi just outside the window was snapping them. 

Greece was different. The name Onassis had long been spoken with pride there, a symbol of supreme success but many citizens believed that by now adopting their country and embracing their culture, the legendary American First Lady raised their prestige around the world.


Ari and Jackie Onassis snapped while eating in Athens.  (original photographer unknown)
Ari and Jackie Onassis snapped while eating in Athens. 

If circumstance had long before thrust an unwanted degree of fame on her, Ari Onassis so avidly pursued it that he encouraged paparazzi, often even stopping to pose for and crack jokes with them.

There were even a few regulars he knew, based in Athens, who functioned like house photographers in his favorite restaurants, where the management made it permissible for them to stroll among the large open room with tightly-squeezed tables of patrons. Some got so close to Ari and Jackie Onassis forking down dinner, the pictures practically showed what they’d ordered.
It may have been one Greek custom to which Jackie Kennedy could never adapt, accustomed as she was more to the exclusive dinner clubs of New York and Paris with private corner booths.


Jackie Onassis besieged by paparazzi, a scene ironically snapped by her most persistent pap Ron Galella.
Jackie Onassis besieged by paparazzi, a scene ironically snapped by her most persistent pap Ron Galella.

No matter how much notoriety his fabulous wealth Onassis had grown accustomed to, it was a carnival stand compared to the Technicolor three-ring circus surrealist film which could enclose Jackie Kennedy in the eye of the cyclone when she made an entrance at a public event.

In such instances, it was not only terrifying, even with a cordon of Secret Service agents, but could be dangerous.
She had seen curious but innocent bystanders at the edge of a paparazzi frenzy nearly crushed to death as she shuffled a step forward and the photographers backed up to keep snapping her, without concern for who was behind them.
Companions and escorts had near-misses with concussions when the paparazzi swung their long lenses and heavy flash attachments in place for the money shot.
Onassis balked at his wife’s mistrust of paparazzi tactics, considering it unnecessary paranoia. On both the day of their wedding and the day before, he even coaxed her into talking to reporters and posing for Greek paparazzi, knowing they meant well and would respect his request to get lost once they’d taken a sufficient round of pictures.

Always preferring to walk everywhere, her interactions with people in Greece couldn’t help but be friendly, so enthusiastic were they to see her wherever she popped up. However such easy familiarity proved wearily intrusive, there were never reports of Jackie Onassis responding to Greek citizens with anything but polite smiles.

Jackie Onassis, startled by a paparazzi who followed her into an Athens art gallery. (Getty)
Jackie Onassis, startled by a paparazzi who followed her into an Athens art gallery.

Only after she’d been intently reading object labels in an Athens museum, for example, did it finally dawn on her she was being trailed by a local paparazzi.
Startled, she stared him down with a grimace, but she never called a museum guard over to have the paparazzi removed or asked him to let her be. She continued through the museum, trying to ignore him.

To do otherwise might easily have been perceived as ingratitude in this traditional country of her husband’s.
There was, however, one place in Greece where she felt she could retreat, secure in the belief it offered absolute privacy. It was only a brief Olympic flight from Athens to the island of Lefkada. From its main village of Nidri, it was then just a helicopter ride home.
“I like everything in Greece,” Jackie Onassis told reporters after a week in Athens, during a rare press conference she granted to local reporters in the garden of Ari’s home there. It wasn’t true, she assured them, that she wanted to leave Greece and make a world tour on the yacht. “We plan to fly back to Skorpios and stay there,” she affirmed with a smile.

“If the weather is good and we enjoy it, why leave?
For all his ruthless skepticism,, however, Ari was naive in dismissing Jackie’s feeling menaced by the enclosing black cloud soon to shadow paradise.

Forty-five years ago today, Sunday, October 20, 1968, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
Many people still speculate about why she did.


Bobby and Jackie Kennedy at a ceremony related to the JFK Library, 1967.
Bobby and Jackie Kennedy at a ceremony related to the JFK Library, 1967.

Often overlooked in the pondering is the fact that the wedding took place less than five months after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. As his sister-in-law Jackie Kennedy had not merely supported his candidacy out of family loyalty but had encouraged him personally as they struggled in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination.


Jackie Kennedy after Robert Kennedy's funeral mass.
Jackie Kennedy after Robert Kennedy’s funeral mass.

In the early months of 1964, shortly after her husband was been killed, Jackie had convinced, even pushed Bobby to remain in national politics and “finish what Jack wanted to do,” including withdrawal of the U.S. military presence in Vietnam.
The June 5, 1968 assassination of Bobby Kennedy was not only a personal loss for his sister-in-law, but the death of her cautious optimism about the nation’s future. She saw aspects of the culture collapsing into one obsessed with violence and danger.


The late president's widow with her children following her brother-in-law's funeral service.
The late president’s widow with her children following her brother-in-law’s funeral service.

She began experiencing anxiety attacks about her own safety and that of her children, provoked by the spike in new death threats towards male members of the family and suggested that her seven-year old son, the late President’s namesake, was a logical target. As she had just realized for a second time, even the Secret Service agents provided to escort and watch her young children in their routine lives were no guarantee of protection.


A night at the theater meant loud, staring crowds at intermission. (UPI)
A night at the theater meant loud, staring crowds at intermission. 

The huddle of screaming, scrambling paparazzi who stalked Jackie Kennedy and her children might appear to be an amusing novelty to onlookers who randomly encountered it on the streets of New York, but the former First Lady felt it had made her a “freak.” There was nothing flattering or honorific about turning a corner in personal thought or laughter with a friend after lunch to be unpredictably besieged with gnashing cameras and blinded by dozens of rapid camera flashes.

The second she emerged from a car or a building, paparazzi were ready to snap Jackie Onassis (original photographer unknown)
The second she emerged from a car or a building, paparazzi were ready to snap Jackie Kennedy. 

Having every part of her physicality scrutinized to search out the most superficial detail about what she was wearing (one publication even strove to determine the inch length of her every-shortening mini-skirts) and then widely reported in the gossip columns made her even more self-conscious. Walking out of church or a storefront knowing that strangers had gathered to wait and stare at her as a sort of living specimen of historic tragedy would make anyone paranoid.
Marrying someone who had an intimidating private security force at his command and heavily-guarded island in another country, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis explained, was “A release, freedom from the oppressive obsession with me and the children.”
So she hoped.
Jackie Onassis with her children  visited the Greek island of Santorini.
Jackie Onassis with her children on the Greek island of Santorini. 

For the first year of her second marriage, the new Mrs. Onassis did indeed spend almost as much time in her husband’s Greek or Paris homes or the London one of her sister, as she did in her own home in New York..


Jackie Onassis confronted by a pap in Paris. (Nogues/Sygma/Corbis)
Jackie Onassis confronted by a pap in Paris. 

She did encounter paparazzi in Europe but especially those who were Greek treated her with a degree of polite respect, asking her to pose for a picture to which she usually acquiesced. When she was in New York during the first year of her marriage it was for such brief lengths of time that she would be leaving by the time word spread through the regular paparazzi pack who’d had no time to determine her daily patterns and whereabouts.
The first serious problems came when she returned to New York in the fall of 1969 to see her children established back in school for the term.

That’s when Jackie Onassis had two memorably disturbing confrontations with aggressive paparazzi.
On October 6, 1969, Ari and Jackie Onassis arrived by private car at the Cinema Rendezvous Theatre on West 57th Street. The manager later admitted that he had called several paparazzi, including Mel Finklestein of the New York Daily News, to garner publicity for the theater and let them know the couple was there. Leaving her seat to get snacks at the concession stand and noticing photographers milling in the lobby, Jackie ordered the manager to get them out of there. They left the lobby to simply stand about six feet from the entrance, on the sidewalk.


Jackie Kennedy Onassis walks out of Cinema Rendezvous theatre on W. 57th St. after seeing "I Am Curious Yellow." (New York Daily News)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis walks out of Cinema Rendezvous theatre on W. 57th St. after seeing “I Am Curious Yellow.” (New York Daily News)

What made the potential of being photographed in front of a movie poster in the lobby or beneath the theater marquee especially alarming to the former First Lady was the particular film she and Ari had gone to see. It was the highly controversial erotic ,Swedish movie I Am Curious Yellow. Rated X it had been banned from being screened in the U.S. for several years.


Perhaps panicking and certainly furious over the presence of photographers, Jackie Onassis oddly followed them out to flee from the screening. As she exited the theater, sure enough Finkelstein snapped her picture dead-on, although without the film’s name in the background. Jackie nervously reacted by pulling a “judo trick” on him. “She grabbed my right wrist put her other hand on my left elbow, put out her left leg and flipped me over her thigh,” he recalled. “That girl can handle herself.” And indeed another photographer snapped Finkelstein fallen on the sidewalk as a woman in a leather mini-skirt, her head wrapped in a printed scarf marched away from him.

Jackie Onassis denied that she was the woman in the picture.
Jackie Onassis emerging from I m Curious Yellow adult film passing a paparazzi who claimed she karate-chopped him to the ground. (UPI)
Jackie Onassis emerging from I m Curious Yellow adult film passing a paparazzi who claimed she karate-chopped him to the ground. (UPI)

Then, Finkelstein produced his one picture, which managed to snap her face before she’d covered it with the scarf.
In one felt swoop, the former First Lady was humiliated by news of her attacking a photographer, seeing an X-rated movie and then lying about it.

Not until the unconcerned Onassis security guards, sitting in the limo, saw her dash past them and then run into the theater to tell Ari did he learn why she never returned from the concession stand. Angry at being interrupted, he shrugged off the incident, making no effort to leave the movie before it was over to console or check with her.

Jackie Onassis may have reacted rashly because she was still agitated about an incident which had occurred just the previous week.
Ron Galella at the front of curious onlookers waiting for Jackie Onassis to emerge from her Fifth Avenue apartment, November 18, 1968. (AP)
Ron Galella at the front of curious onlookers waiting for Jackie Onassis to emerge from her Fifth Avenue apartment, November 18, 1968. (AP)

Although paparazzi Ron Gallela has since depicted his unrelentingly stalking of Jackie as some sort of an oddly affectionate relationship between them, his tactics proved dangerous.

By this point, the moment she saw Gallela, Jackie usually swiveled her head away from his camera, obscured her face or just bolted into a full-fledged run (which he photographed – from behind) but her thwarting efforts only made him more unrelentingly invasive, conspiring with naive service personnel for tips on her schedule and once slipping into a Chinese restaurant to snap her eating with chopsticks while he hid in a coat rack.
At the end of September 1969, however, he ambushed her and her son as they were bike riding and in surprised reaction, they swerved into ongoing traffic. Instead of the tight smile she usually met him with, this time Jackie told her son’s Secret Service agents to stop Gallela cold. He would claim that she ordered them to “Smash his camera.”


Gallela following Jackie Onassis as she strolls Madison Avenue.
Gallela following Jackie Onassis as she strolls Madison Avenue.

Nothing, however, stopped Gallela who knew full well that Jackie Onassis was no longer the subject of legal protection by the Secret Service. It got so obsessive that she finally took him to court for violation of privacy in the winter of 1972.
Although she won the case and Gallela was ordered to remain a distance away from her at all times, he flagrantly violated the ruling – until she took him to court again.


An obviously angry Ari Onassis walks with Jackie as Gallela snaps them.
An obviously angry Ari Onassis walks with Jackie as Gallela snaps them.

Aristotle Onassis was displeased about the court case, not just because of the massive legal fees which he considered a waste of money but the fact that it only seemed to draw other, even more aggressive paparazzi wherever she went.
Making the rounds at exclusive nightclubs in his double-breasted suits and sunglasses, often joined in a stroll with a famous friend, Onassis had always invited publicity snapshots of himself. He viewed them as a way to raise the glamor quotient of his business profile. When he wanted to retreat into complete privacy and walk around in his robe – or nothing at all – he had his private island.
Except Jackie was now on it.


Jackie Onassis and her son photographed from a relatively close distance on Scorpios. (original photographer unknown)
Jackie Onassis and her son photographed from a relatively close distance on Scorpios. 

Onassis took pride in the fact that Skorpios was impenetrable, being regularly encircled by security agents on motorized launches. No photographers ever gained access or dared to violate the private property warnings posted at the docks.


Suddenly noticing a Greek paparazzi snapping her and son John with a telephoto lense on Skorpios provoked the new Mrs. Onassis to grimace more than smile.
Suddenly noticing a Greek paparazzi snapping her and son with a telephoto lens on Skorpios provoked the new Mrs. Onassis to grimace more than smile.

He thought Jackie was being ridiculously paranoid when she once reported to him feeling that she was somehow being watched while dining at the open-air “taverna” cottage on the island. He insisted that he never detected any photographers were watching him on the island.

And they weren’t. When he was there alone.
However remote the island might be, it was a finite space and when the one person whose pictures commanded the highest prices at publications was in residence there, paparazzi knew the half-dozen places along the shoreline where she would eventually appear.
Ari and Jackie Onassis snapped at a cafe.
Ari and Jackie Onassis snapped at a cafe.

A further menacing intrusion came in the latter part of 1969.
The Novoflex Super-Telephoto Lens.
The Novoflex Super-Telephoto Lens.

That year, European paparazzi were ecstatic about the latest version of the “Novoflex Super-Telephoto lens,” which had a mount but could focus clearly on figures at a great distance, far enough away, for instance, to avoid trespassing on Skorpios.

Over the holiday season and into 1970, including the summer vacation of the family and their guests, slightly grainy but otherwise distinct images of them boating, strolling the island, swimming and lunching began appearing throughout the world’s newspapers and magazines, carried by wire services in Europe and the U.S.
The privacy violation increasingly irritated Onassis, who nevertheless recognized he had no control over the situation since the paparazzi had not technically been trespassing.


By the late 60s technology advances amped the power of telephotos lenses to take even color shots, as this one of Jackie Onassis practicing yoga at the Skorpios beach cabana proved. (Life)
By the late 60s technology advances amped the power of telephotos lenses to take even color shots, as this one of Jackie Onassis practicing yoga on the beach at Scorpios proved. (Life)

And then there was the summer of 1971.
There being none of her friends or family members as guests one particular day, Jackie Kennedy Onassis did what millions of people do when they want to swim. She changed into a bathing suit. And while she was there alone and natural, she also did a bit of sunbathing and yoga exercises.
Except that she was not alone.
Jackie Onassis with the friendly paparazzi
Jackie Onassis with the friendly paparazzi Settimio Garritano on Capri.

Ironically, it was not an intrusive stranger but rather an apparent staff member on Scorpios who photographed a series of images with a telephoto lens which captured the former Mrs. John F. Kennedy in the nude.

At least, he had seemed to be a staff member.
Photographer Settimio Garritano had won the confidence of a local resident of a nearby village who then helped him gain access to the island by disguising himself as a gardener.
Garritano docked a small rowboat beneath some overgrowth which kept him entirely hidden from the nearby beach area the Onassis family used. And his telephoto lens was affixed to his camera and ready just as Jackie appeared alone and readied for her swim
“It didn’t seem possible,” he recalled in 2009. “She knew she’d been photographed before on Scorpios so why would she display herself? Then suddenly she appeared and wandered around the patio area. I concentrated on just taking the pictures, not composing them. It was a matter of moments, not even minutes.”


Jackie Onassis strolls Capri, looking over sandals for sale.
Jackie Onassis strolls Capri, looking over sandals for sale. (Settimio Garritano)

Initially, Garritano was unable to find any publication that would print the images of the woman who had a public image which still placed her in wool suits and pillbox hats, and who never went to formal events without wearing white gloves.
In fact, the friendly Garritano proved to be one of the few familiar photographers whom Mrs. Onassis often offered a smile towards while sitting in cafes and strolling the streets of Capri. It seems she never learned that he had been the one to take the nude pictures.
A year later, however, in 1972 the nude photos of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were printed in Playmen, an Italian magazines. Three years later, they appeared in the American publication Hustler.


Ari and Jackie Onassis snapped at the Scorpios lagoon by paparazzi.
Ari and Jackie Onassis snapped at the Scorpios lagoon by paparazzi.
Jackie was mortified but took the philosophical view that the images were not pornographic and revealed no more than did ancient Greek sculpture. She would even sign one of the images for her friend, the artist Andy Warhol. Ari Onassis adopted a similar view, shrugging it off by saying, “Sometimes I take my clothes off to put on a bathing suit. So does my wife.”
In fact, he did take off his clothes to put on a bathing suit and soon enough there were even more explicit naked photographs of him hitting the magazines and hitting a nerve with him.


Part of the revealing Garritano photo series on Jacqueline Onassis.
Part of the revealing Garritano photo series on Jacqueline Onassis.

Aristotle Onassis was humiliated, but rather than focus on his nude pictures he suddenly began to bicker to Jackie about her nude pictures, even in front of her friends.


Among the less-revealing of telephoto camera snaps taken of the former First Lady in the buff. (Oggi)
Among the less-revealing of telephoto camera snaps taken of the former First Lady in the buff. (Oggi)

“I don’t like seeing pictures of my wife’s behind in magazines!” he yelled at her repeatedly and loudly over dinner one night in a chic New York restaurant.
Her patience tried but her politeness still intact, Jackie Onassis finally purred at him, “Oh don’t worry ‘Goldfinger,’ they’re saving yours for the Christmas issues.”
Not long after her nude pictures had been published in 1972, Jackie Onassis told her husband that she would not be coming to Scorpios until the middle of June, later than previously scheduled.
Again Ari blew a gasket. It may, however, have been the reason why she would be delayed which angered him.

Jacqueline Onassis (in blue circle) joined the Kennedy family for a June 1972 memorial service at Arlington Cemetery for Robert Kennedy.
She was going to attend a June 9 memorial service on the fourth anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, thus making her first return to Arlington National Cemetery since she had married Onassis.
After joining the Kennedy family at the gravesite of Robert Kennedy, however, Jackie Onassis then made an unscheduled visit to the grave of her first husband, which she had meticulously planned following the President’s assassination.


Unlike her composure during the late President's funeral, Jackie Onassis cried openly at his grave when she again visited there in 1972. (AP)
Unlike her composure during the late President’s funeral, Jackie Onassis cried openly at his grave when she again visited there in 1972. (AP)

Ignoring the photographers who snapped away at her, she finally broke down in tears, openly weeping in a way she never had at the time of the President’s funeral and burial nine years earlier.
The photograph appeared around the world with captions which suggested it was proof that she still grieved more for her first husband than she loved her second husband.
That picture’s affect, however, was mitigated by another equally startling one which showed the former First Lady receiving holy communion during the Catholic mass at the cemetery.
As thousands of news reports at the time of her second marriage had pointed out, according to Vatican law, a Catholic who married someone who been divorced was to be denied any further sacraments of the religion, such as communion.


 Jacqueline Onassis receiving holy communion from Monsignor Gino Barroni during the Robert Kennedy memorial mass at Arlington cemetery (Corbis)
Jacqueline Onassis receiving holy communion from Monsignor Gino Barroni during the Robert Kennedy memorial mass at Arlington cemetery 

There was a degree of criticism from some Catholic leaders for her defiance of the ruling as well as of the priest who administered it. Generally, however, it had the unwelcome affect of reminding the public all over again about the great differences between Ari and Jackie Onassis.
The renewed criticism of the marriage in the press suggested that despite the fact that she was the legal wife of Aristotle Onassis, the public never stopped perceiving Jackie Bouvier as the widow of John F. Kennedy.


Jackie Onassis at a board meeting of the JFK School for Government. (Boston Globe)
Jackie Onassis at a board meeting of the JFK School for Government. 

If the press and public didn’t need to remind Onassis of this, Jackie did.
In 1971, she had made her first and only visit back to the White House, accepting the invitation of President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon to join them and their daughters with her own two children, for a private dinner and viewing of the portraits of herself and President Kennedy which would be put on public view the following day. While certainly Ari had not voiced an expectation that he also be invited, neither did she seek to invite him.
On their third wedding anniversary, Onassis looked at his breakfast tray to find a jeweled 14K gold watch, along with a note which carried a quote from his favorite Greek philosopher Theophrastus: “Our costliest expenditure is time.”
The watch was engraved “F.A.L.J” (“For Ari, Love Jackie). When he looked closely at the gift, however, he saw that there was another engraving on it as well. The watch had belonged to Jackie’s first husband, a gift from friends in 1963. Onassis told his daughter that by the choice of this as a wedding anniversary present, Jackie was suggesting that the greatest gift she could give to her second husband was a tangible association with her first husband.


Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her children emerge from a 10th anniversary memorial mass to President Kennedy at St. Bridget's Catholic Church in New Jersey. (Washington Star Collection)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her children emerge from a 10th anniversary memorial mass to President Kennedy at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in New Jersey. (Washington Star Collection)

Each November, almost always during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Jackie Onassis also took her two children to a Catholic mass, in remembrance of the President on the day he was assassinated. Each year, newspapers carried pictures of the trio leaving the masses, yet another reminded to Ari of whose wife he had married.

As the initial glory of his sudden global fame which resulted from his 1968 wedding to Jackie wore off, Ari was forced to face the truth that no matter how wealthy he was or how fabled his island or yacht, marriage to the world’s most famous woman was less about Jackie Kennedy being the wife of Onassis and more about Onassis being the husband of Jackie Kennedy.

Ari Onassis gave this diamond ring to Jackie Kennedy at the time of their marriage, the first of many opulent gifts of jewelry.
Ari Onassis gave this diamond ring to Jackie Kennedy at the time of their marriage, the first of many opulent gifts of jewelry.
 Whether it was an act of passive aggression or a reflection of his genuine political leanings, the press soon learned a startling fact about the couple around Election Day in 1972. While Jackie Onassis loyally contributed to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, Ari Onassis made a sizable contribution to Republican President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign.
Jackie Onassis exiting Christian Dior shop in Paris.
Jackie Onassis exiting Christian Dior shop in Paris.

Onassis was also beginning to face some unpleasant business realities, as his overall assets were showing losses for the year 1973 ahead. Rather than face it by explaining the complexities of a shifting global economy and his own investment decisions, he fixated on a more spiteful excuse for the tumble. From the very start of their marriage, Ari had been repeatedly and extravagantly plying Jackie with eye-popping jewelry that she’d never asked for. Yet now he began to complain that by indulging her expensive tastes in art and clothing, she was depleting his fortune. The high cost of the winning auction bid on an 18th Century French landscape painting was more readily comprehended than the spike in airline fuel caused by an oil embargo.
Edie Beale, first cousin of Jackie Onassis, with her friend, artist Andy Warhol.
Edie Beale, first cousin of Jackie Onassis, with her friend, artist Andy Warhol.

Whereas Ari had been flamboyantly generous towards any matter of personal importance to Jackie, now he was passing judgement on the value of her concerns. After embarrassing news stories about the deplorable living conditions of Jackie’s paternal aunt and first cousin “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale, for example, Onassis eagerly underwrote the costs of bringing their home up to code.
An apparently sharp argument broke out between them, however, when she asked him to make a donation to a fledgling clinic in Vietnam, established by her close friend, journalist Gloria Emerson, which treated children maimed by the war.


Gloria Emerson. (wlajournal.com)
Gloria Emerson. 
When Onassis flat-out refused to do so, belittling the effort, Jackie went “berserk,” especially stunned at how he could so summarily deny aiding such a relatively modest humanitarian effort.
The incident triggered an act of defiance that echoed some of her determined tactics as First Lady when she conceived of creative methods to fund the purchase of especially rare but unaffordable antiques for her historical restoration of the White House.


Jackie Onassis exiting Chanel in Paris.
Jackie Onassis exiting Chanel in Paris.

Although her living expenses were appropriated monthly by Onassis, at some point in 1972 or 1973 he limited her discretionary funds. He had not, however, closed the credit accounts he had always maintained for the women of his family at numerous clothier’s in Paris.
Onassis became bewildered by a particular set of charges that came in for a series of couture gowns charged by Jackie in Paris but which she never once wore. Why did she buy these expensive clothes, he complained, when he knew for a fact that she had been wearing tee-shirts, jeans and sportswear for weeks on end and then appeared shortly thereafter at a formal event in a gown she had already worn publicly on several past occasions.

Jackie Onassis exiting Christian Dior shop in Paris.
Jackie Onassis exiting Christian Dior shop in Paris.

It is unclear whether or not Onassis ever found out that, in fact, his wife had the new, unworn couture sent to New York and discreetly sold at a high-end outlet for practically its full value, less the cost of customs tax.

To Gloria Emerson, however, Mrs. Onassis made a whopping donation to help her hospital for Vietnamese children – in cash, and on the condition that her seemingly Robin Hoodesque transaction not be revealed in Emerson’s forthcoming McCall’s Magazine profile about her, a strategic piece of public relations with which Jackie was fully cooperating..

Callas and Onassis out again.
Callas and Onassis out again.

If this sort of subversive shopping was providing Jackie Onassis a creative outlet amid the growing frustrations and tension of her marriage, Ari Onassis found it by renewing not so much a romance but a romantic friendship with his former lover, opera singer Maria Callas.
He was also going out more frequently to nightclubs and staying until the wee hours of the morning as he had done before marrying Jackie. On occasion, she joined him but she found the repetitive outings to be tedious. It was also a gross understatement to say that she didn’t quite enjoy the belly-dancing on tables that he loved, particularly during trips they made to Iran and Egypt together.

Jackie Onassis didn't take as well to a bellydancer in Egypt as she did the Nile. Ari liked it.
Jackie Onassis didn’t take as well to a bellydancer in Egypt as she did the Nile. Ari liked it.
By 1973, lunching and shopping seemed to have become a numbing distraction for Jackie Onassis. That year she spent more time in New York, apart from her husband, than she had at any previous time in their marriage.

Jackie Bouvier at the time of her Vogue submission.
Jackie Bouvier at the time of her Vogue submission.
Gloria Emerson had once successfully encouraged Jackie in 1951 to see through to complete the rigorous submission of an entire mock issue of Vogue magazine for a contest sponsored by the magazine.
Now, Emerson began an unrelenting campaign to convince Jackie she would only find genuine happiness by returning to some form of journalistic work, convinced that her skill with words was going to waste.
Jackie Kennedy in the ruins at Angkor, Cambodia, 1967. (Corbis)
Jackie Kennedy in the ruins at Angkor, Cambodia, 1967. (Corbis)

In 1973, NBC approached the former First Lady with an exciting offer to narrate a documentary on threatened world landmarks like those in Cambodia and Mexico she had inspected. Jackie was eager to accept. Ari angrily forbade her from doing so.


“They’ll say Onassis is broke, sending his wife out to work and earn her own money!” he griped.
Still, Jackie Onassis once again found a way around her husband.
It was not until Gloria Emerson’s magazine profile on her revealed it that even members of Jackie’s family first discovered that rather than disappearing downtown on certain weekdays to, they assumed, lunch, shop, take in shows or museum exhibits, the former First Lady had been slipping uptown to Spanish Harlem to volunteer as a reading teacher for children living in a shelter.
Ari and Jackie Onassis enjoy a cruise down the Nile, 1974.
Ari and Jackie Onassis enjoy a cruise down the Nile, 1974.

As 1973 began, the marriage of Ari and Jackie Onassis was strained but not broken.

In the following year, she would even successfully prod her husband off his yacht and out of his offices for a leisurely tour of Egypt, a place both had expressed a desire to explore if they could find the time.

Unfortunately, the 1974 Egyptian trip did little to relax Aristotle Onassis. At that point, it was already too late.
On January 23, 1973 another unexpected tragedy had hit this clan that had been cobbled together by a divorce and an assassination..
This time, however, it wasn’t on Jackie’s side of the family.