OCTOBER 20, 1968: Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy sparked outrage by marrying Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis on this day in 1968 – five years after JFK’s assassination.
The 39-year-old widow’s surprise wedding to a man 23 years her senior was viewed by people around the world as an undignified betrayal of President John F Kennedy.
It also sparked savage newspaper reaction. One Fleet Street tabloid blasted: “Jackie weds blank cheque.” While another in Rome roared: “JFK dies a second time.”
And the Catholic Church attacked the American fashion icon for breaking the Vatican law forbidding marriage to a divorced man.
Yet millions also sympathised with a woman who had also been hurt by the death of her two-day-old son Patrick in 1963, a miscarriage in 1955, stillbirth of daughter Arabella in 1953 and frequent affairs of her late husband during the ten-year marriage.
A British Pathé newsreel filmed the new Mrs Kennedy Onassis emerging with her second husband from a Greek Orthodox Church on his private island of Skorpios.
Yet, it later emerged that the family had largely given her their blessing and Senator Ted Kennedy, JFK’s youngest brother, had helped her secure a prenuptial agreement.
It gave her $3million cash before the wedding and also handed $1million each to her two surviving children Caroline and John Jr.
She made the decision to marry again after JFK’s other brother Robert Kennedy’s assassination in April 1968 triggered fears that other family members might be killed.
“If they are killing Kennedys, my children are the No 1 targets. I want to get out of this country,” she said after what people had already described as the Kennedy Curse.
Onassis, who was one of the wealthiest men in the world, promised her new security – although the marriage meant she lost her right to U.S. Secret Service protection.
Mrs Kennedy Onassis also failed to live a more secluded life as the press and paparazzi followed the woman they had nicknamed Jackie O everywhere.
The couple spent a lot of time in America, dividing their time between her 15-room Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City and her horse farm in New Jersey.
They also lived in his Paris flat, his 325ft yacht The Christina and Skorpios, which he bought for £10,000 in 1962 but was sold by an heir this year for £100million.
But Onassis, who was known by Ari, began suffering from increasingly bad health after the death of his son Alexander in a plane crash in 1973.
He died from respiratory failure at age 69 in Paris on March 15, 1975, following less than eight years of marriage.
Mrs Kennedy Onassis then spent two years fighting to gain a $26million share of his $500million fortune, which she was forbidden to inherit under Greek law.
After that she settled permanently in New York and went on to develop an career as a renowned book editor.
The three-pack-a-day cigarette smoker died from cancer at age 64 on May 19, 1994 and was buried beside JFK and their son Patrick at Arlington Cemetery, Virginia.
- Family & Relationships
- Arts & Entertainment
- Jacqueline Kennedy
- Aristotle Onassis