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Posts Tagged ‘Aristotle Onassis’

Jackie Kennedy

In 1966, multimillionaire Robert David Lion Gardiner invited Jackie Kennedy to visit him on to his private islet, Gardiners Island, off the coast of Long Island. Gardiners Island had been in Gardiner’s family for four centuries and was one of the largest privately-owned islands in the world.

Eunice Bailey Oakes Gardiner and Robert David Lion Gardiner

Gardiner arranged a dinner party for Jackie which was attended by both Gardiner and wife, the former British model Eunice Bailey Oakes, and several others.

After dinner, the guests retired to the lavish wood-paneled den, where coffee and cognac were served. According to Gardiner, he watched as Jackie took out a cigarette and looked around for a light. A gold cigarette lighter belonging to Eunice lay on a  nearby table. Jackie picked it up and used it to light her cigarette. Then, inexplicably, she slipped the lighter into her evening bag.

Gardiner was aghast. Jackie Kennedy had deliberately stolen his wife’s lighter.

Gardiner didn’t know what to do. Several uncomfortable minutes later, he went over to his humidor and took out a cigar. Turning to the roomful of guests, he asked:

Have any of you seen my wife’s gold cigarette lighter?” 

Getting no response, he addressed his most distinguished guest:

Did you, Mrs. Kennedy? I believe you were the last one to use it.”

Jackie shrugged, replying in her little girl voice:  

I have no idea where it went. ”

The lighter was never returned to its owner. Gardiner was furious and retaliated by spreading stories accusing Jackie of kleptomania.

Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis, June 5, 1969, at Kennedy Airport, New York. The couple had been married less than a year.

The gossip reached the Greek ears of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie’s husband from 1968-75, who sent Gardiner a check for $5,000, along with a note threatening legal action for slander. Jackie had admitted to Ari that she had accidentally placed the lighter in her purse that evening at Gardiner’s but had, since then, simply lost track of it.

At some point, though, the missing lighter “resurfaced.” After Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s death in 1994, the lighter was auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York as part of her multi-million-dollar estate.

Source: Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story. New York: Atria, 2009.

Readers, for more posts on Jackie Kennedy on this blog, click here.

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American Royalty: President John and Jackie Kennedy stroll the White House grounds.

American Royalty: President John and Jackie Kennedy stroll the White House grounds.

It was a star-studded event. It was Saturday, May 19, 1962, and the young, dashing, and popular U.S. President John F. Kennedy was turning 45. The Democratic Party held a huge fundraiser at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The birthday salute was televised before a national audience and 15,000 people had paid for seats to catch the show live at the Garden. The cream of American show business turned out to pay homage to Kennedy – Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Jack Benny, Henry Fonda, Harry Belafonte. Greek opera diva Maria Callas was also there. Actor Peter Lawford, the president’s brother-in-law, served as master-of-ceremonies. But the pièce de résistance – the showstopper – was the performer who sang the finale – sexpot and film star Marilyn Monroe.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy riding horses with her children at their Middleburg, Virginia, retreat "Glen Ora." Jackie grew up surrounded by horses and was an accomplished equestrian. President John Kennedy did not share her passion for horse shows and riding. He was allergic to horse fur. November 19, 1962.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy riding horses with her children at their Middleburg, Virginia, retreat "Glen Ora." Jackie grew up surrounded by horses and was an accomplished equestrian. President John Kennedy did not share her passion for horse shows and riding. He was allergic to horse hair. November 19, 1962.

It seemed that everyone was there – except the honoree’s wife – Jackie Kennedy. The president attended the ceremony without the First Lady at his side. When Jackie had learned that Marilyn was to be performing at the benefit, she decided she was not about to attend. She instead became a last-minute participant in the Loudoun Hunt Horse Show at Glen Ora, her weekend home.  Jackie knew that her husband and Marilyn Monroe were lovers – and Jackie was not about to have her nose rubbed into it in front of a national audience.

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was wild for Jack Kennedy. She accepted the invitation to appear in New York in violation of her contract with Twentieth-Century Fox – and their relationship was already at its breaking point. Production on her latest film, “Something’s Got to Give,” had been on start/stop for months due to Marilyn’s chronic tardiness and absence.  Marilyn was in a narcotics and booze nosedive and living on impulse. She was in hot pursuit of Jack Kennedy and nothing would get in her way. She was scheduled to sing “Happy Birthday” to the president.

Marilyn Monroe in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" (1963)

Marilyn Monroe in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" (1953)

“A manic energy propelled her….” wrote Barbara Leaming in Marilyn Monroe:

“All weekend, the white-carpeted, unfurnished rooms at Fifth Helena echoed with Marilyn’s whispery voice. She lay in the tub singing “Happy Birthday.” She sat on the living room floor, endlessly tape recording and listening to herself….” (1)

Then, ignoring the studio’s stern warning, Marilyn flew from Hollywood to New York with Peter Lawford, singing on the airplane. She continued to practice once in her New York apartment. Those who listened said her interpretation grew sexier, more and more outrageous. Friend Paula Strasberg warned that it verged on self-parody.

Finally, the night of the performance arrived. Backstage, Marilyn got into her costume – a flesh-toned slip of a dress by Jean-Louis sewn with 2500 rhinestones. The gown was so snug Marilyn had to be sewn into it. Paralyzed with stage fright, Marilyn kept ignoring her cue to appear on stage. She hung back, drowning her fears in alcohol, before Milt Ebbins shoved her onto the stage.

“She walked like a geisha….” (1)

“The figure was famous and, for one breathless moment, the 15,000 people in Madison Square Garden thought they were going to see all of it. Onto the stage sashayed Marilyn Monroe, attired in a great bundle of white mink. Arriving at the lectern, she turned and swept the furs from her shoulders. A slight gasp rose from the audience before it was realized that she was really wearing a skintight flesh-toned gown.” (2)

Marilyn Monroe at the microphone singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," at President John F. Kennedy's birthday bash, May 19, 1962.

Marilyn Monroe at the microphone singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," at President John F. Kennedy's birthday bash, May 19, 1962.

When she came down in that flesh-colored dress, without any underwear on…” said Hugh Sidey of Time, “you could just smell lust. I mean, Kennedy went limp or something. We all were just stunned to see this woman.”

“What an ass…what an ass,” whispered Kennedy.

“Happy…Birthday…to you,” Marilyn began to sing [whisper]. (3)

Her rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mister President” – was soft, seductive, and pathetic. The 35-year-old Marilyn was high as a kite (and wearing a wig that was slipping). Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen called it nothing less than:

 “…making love to the President in the direct view of forty million Americans.”

President John F. Kennedy speaks to the audience at Madison Square Garden at his 45th birthday bash, May 19, 1962.

President John F. Kennedy speaks to the audience at Madison Square Garden at his 45th birthday bash, May 19, 1962.

At the end of the performance, a noticeably-embarrassed President Kennedy took to the stage and announced disingenuously:

“I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet wholesome way.”  (2)

At an after-party, a photographer caught President Kennedy and brother Robert Kennedy hovering over Marilyn in the library, still wearing the see-through dress Marilyn called “skin and beads.”  

Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and President John Kennedy gather following Monroe's iconic performance of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," at Madison Square Garden, May 19, 1962. Marilyn is still wearing the gown she wore in the performance which she referred to as "skin and beads."

Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and President John Kennedy gather following Monroe's iconic performance of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," at Madison Square Garden, May 19, 1962. Marilyn is still wearing the gown she wore in the performance which she referred to as "skin and beads." The auction house Christie's later sold this dress for $1.2 million, the most money ever paid for a dress.

Kennedy’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, was at the party and saw Marilyn’s “skin and beads” dress. He later wrote to Mary Lasker:

“I didn’t see the beads!”

Greek opera diva Maria Callas laughs it up with Marilyn Monroe at President Kennedy's 45th birthday bash at Madison Square Garden, May  19, 1962. Marilyn Monroe was President Kennedy's lover. Maria Callas was the off-and-on lover of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy's 2nd husband.

Greek opera diva Maria Callas (1923-1977) laughs it up with blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe at President Kennedy's 45th birthday bash at Madison Square Garden, May 19, 1962. First Lady Jackie Kennedy did not attend the celebration. Marilyn Monroe was President Kennedy's lover when Jackie was Mrs. Kennedy. Maria Callas was the clandestine lover of Aristotle Onassis when Jackie was Mrs. Onassis.

Jackie Kennedy watched Marilyn’s performance on TV the next day. She was livid. The rumors about Jack and Marilyn were flying. Jackie called up sister-in-law Ethel Kennedy and complained that she just knew Bobby had staged the prank. Jackie ordered Jack to stop seeing Marilyn. (4) Jack also sent word to the press that there was nothing to the rumors of an extramarital affair between him and Marilyn Monroe, which, we know, was a lie.

President Kennedy broke off the relationship with Marilyn. Her performance at Madison Square Garden became her last public appearance. Marilyn became profoundly affected by the break-up with the President and her loss of  other men, including ex-husband Arthur Miller, who had recently remarried.

As a result, the summer following the Madison Square Garden show,  Marilyn dove deeper and deeper into a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol, storm and stress, and depressed isolation. Out of necessity, the production of her film, “Something’s Got to Give” came to a halt, because the star was a “no-show” on the set.

 The movie was never finished. On August 5, Marilyn Monroe – born Norma Jeane Baker – was found dead in her home from a drug overdose – an apparent suicide – and the world was shocked.

Goodbye, Norma Jean

Goodbye, Norma Jeane

(1) Leaming, Barbara. Marilyn Monroe. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.

(2) Smith, Sally Bedell.Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House. New York: Random House, Inc., 2004. (excerpted from a Time magazine article)

(3) Klein, Edward. All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy. New York: Pocket Books, 1996.

(4) Taraborrelli, J. Randy. Jackie Ethel Joan. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 2000.

*Readers: I’ve written many posts on Jackie O and the Kennedys. Please look in the right sidebar – Categories – People – the Kennedys. Enjoy!

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Jackie looking good in a trench coat. What is the Jackie O look? classic and refined

Jackie looking good in a trench coat. What is the Jackie O look? classic and refined

This is the week of what would have been Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ (1929-1994) eightieth birthday. Blogs, magazines, newspapers, and TV programs are celebrating her life and style – particulary her style. She was – and is – a fashion icon. Those of you in doubt of her lasting appeal need only to google the phrase, “the Jackie Kennedy Look,” and see how many sites are dedicated to this ideal.

What is her attraction? Exactly what is “the Jackie Kennedy Look”? Is it a hairstyle? It couldn’t be that; Jackie’s hairstyle over the years changed radically, going from a curly, soft, and cropped bob on her wedding day (shown below)

They were married on September 12, 1953, at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The wedding was performed by Archbishop Richard Cushing. The wedding was considered the social event of the season with an estimated 700 guests at the ceremony and 900 at the lavish reception that followed at Hammersmith Farm.

Jacqueline Bouvier and then-Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy were married on September 12, 1953, at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The wedding was performed by Archbishop Richard Cushing. The wedding was considered the social event of the season with an estimated 700 guests at the ceremony and 900 at the lavish reception that followed at Hammersmith Farm.

to a crisp bouffant at her husband John Kennedy‘s inauguration as the 35th President of the United States (below)

 

First Lady Jackie Kennedy at President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration. Seen here with, at left, then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and, at right, her husband, President Kennedy.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy at President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration. Seen here with, at left, then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and, at right, her husband, President Kennedy.

to a long, loose, and straight un-style when island-hopping with Greek shipping tycoon husband #2  Ari Onassis. (below).

Jackie and Ari Onassis in 1969, Jackie, in a festive summer print, and husband Aristotle Onassis leave an Athens nightclub at 7 a.m. after celebrating Jackie's 40th birthday.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis, in a festive summer print, and husband Aristotle Onassis leave an Athens nightclub at 7 a.m. after celebrating Jackie's 40th birthday, 1969.

Not that Jackie Kennedy’s hairstyles didn’t set fashion trends. Her 1961 inauguration hairdo, the bouffant, defined by the Oxford Dictionary, as [hair] “styled so as to stand out from the head in a rounded shape,” from the French word for ‘swelling,’ swept the nation in popularity. Her short, dark locks were teased, sprayed, and curled by her hairdresser, Mr. Kenneth of Lilly Dache, New York.

When Jackie Kennedy was First Lady (1961-1963), a rumor spread that she wore wigs from time to time, which Jackie’s spokespeople denied vehemently. Unfortunately, though, the rumor was proved true when sister-in-law Joan Kennedy blurted out in an interview:

“You know, Jackie talked me into wearing a wig. She has three of them, and she wears them a lot, especially for traveling. I tried one, but it just felt silly.”

Then, if it wasn’t her hair that defined the Jackie Kennedy look, perhaps it was her clothes. Consider her signature look…

 

First Lady Jackie Kennedy displays her trademark chic - pillbox hat, pearls, and stylish suit

First Lady Jackie Kennedy displays her trademark chic - pillbox hat, pearls, and stylish suit

formal, for day: the pillbox hat, pearls, the three-quarter length sleeves, the boxy Chanel suit jacket with A-line skirt

First Lady Jackie Kennedy at home in the White House. She is remembered for her love for all things French which found expression in her dedicated and loving restoration of the White House.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy at home in the White House. She is remembered for her love for all things tasteful (and French) which found expression in her dedicated and loving restoration of the White House.

 informal, for day: the sleeveless silk sheath accented by a single strand of pearls at the throat

on their way to a dinner with the French cultural minister, April 1962. Mrs. Kennedy wears a gown designed by Oleg Cassini.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy as she was dressed for dinner with the French cultural minister, April 1962. Mrs. Kennedy wears a gown designed by Oleg Cassini.

informal, for night: a fabulous gown by designers such as Oleg Cassini completed by elbow-length white gloves and a clutch bag

But these were Jackie’s looks from the White House years, when she posed, posture perfect like a princess, beaming a happy smile. But then her husband was murdered and Camelot was no more. Her life changed and, with it, her wardrobe.

After she married Onassis, she became “Jackie O” and was photographed strolling the streets of Europe, slumming in casual attire -sexy capri pants with flat, strappy sandals. After Onassis’ death, she moved to New York to become a book editor for Doubleday. When she was seen on the streets, she kept her head down to avoid recognition, ducking the press, hiding behind those ubiquitous, bug-eyed, dark glasses and sometimes concealing her famous head under a scarf.

Jackie O in 1975, the year her second husband Aristotle Onassis died

Jackie O in 1975, the year her second husband Aristotle Onassis died

No, the Jackie Kennedy Look can’t be summed up by pointing to a hairstyle or style of dress – they were too variable.  Granted, whether First Lady, international playgirl, New York socialite, or career publisher, Jackie Kennedy had style, to be sure, a strong fashion sense, showing up largely as a preference for clean, uncluttered lines and simplicity. But she had an indescribable personal quality, too, a  je ne sais quoi, the French would say, a quality that transcended all the changes she made to her wardrobe and hair – the quintessential Jackie O – that keeps us fixated on her well into another century.

What was it that made Jackie such an icon that we still want to look at photos of her, though she has been gone so long?

One need only consult the TV comedy “Seinfeld” for the answer to this little conundrum. In the 87th episode known as “The Chaperone,” character Elaine Benes (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) seeks a job at Doubleday as a book editor, following in the steps of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

 Elaine does not get the job. Read the Seinfeld script below to find out why Elaine was rejected by Doubleday:

New scene – Elaine at her job interview at Doubleday with Mrs. Landis.

LANDIS: Of course, Jackie O. was a great lady. Those are going to be some tough shoes to fill. Everyone loved her. She had such…grace.

ELAINE (gushing): Yes! Grace!

LANDIS: Not many people have grace.

ELAINE: Well, you know, grace is a tough one. I like to think I have a little grace…not as much as Jackie –

LANDIS: You can’t have “a little grace.” You either have grace, or you…don’t.

ELAINE: O.K., fine, I have…no grace.

LANDIS: And you can’t acquire grace.

ELAINE: Well, I have no intention of “getting” grace.

LANDIS: Grace isn’t something you can pick up at the market.

ELAINE (fed up): All right, all right, look – I don’t have grace, I don’t want grace…I don’t even say grace, O.K.?

LANDIS: Thank you for coming in.

ELAINE: Yeah, yeah, right.

LANDIS: We’ll make our choice in a few days, and we’ll let you know.

ELAINE (stands up): I have no chance, do I?

LANDIS: No. <They shake hands.>

 

Elaine Benes (Seinfeld) has no grace.

Elaine Benes (from TV series" Seinfeld) has no grace. Jackie Kennedy Onassis had grace.

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Jackie Kennedy during the White House years

Jackie Kennedy during the White House years

From USA Today Online, July 6, 2009:

Book: Jackie, RFK had four-year affair

The New York Post, quoting a new book, reports that Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy had a four-year love affair that began shortly after President Kennedy was killed.

Author C. David Heymann says Bobby was Jackie’s “true love” and that the affair was well known among family members. When Bobby was shot after winning the California presidential primary, Jackie — not Bobby’s wife Ethel Kennedy or his brother Ted Kennedy — ordered that he be removed from a respirator, the book says.

The book, Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, arrives in stores this month. The Post says it “includes recollections of the steamy affair” from Kennedy family intimates, including Pierre Salinger, Arthur Schlesinger, Jack Newfield, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and Morton Downey Jr. Heymann told the paper he spent nearly two decades researching the book and had access to FBI and Secret Service files. Tapes of his interviews are available at the SUNY Stony Brook library.

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

Among the book’s revelations:

— Six months after JFK’s death, during a May 1964 dinner cruise on the presidential yacht the USS Sequoia, Bobby and Jackie “exchanged poignant glances” before disappearing below deck, leaving Ethel upstairs. “When they returned, they looked as chummy and relaxed as a pair of Cheshire cats,” according to Schlesinger.

— At one point, Ethel Kennedy implored family friend Frank Moore to “tell Bobby to stop sleeping with Jackie.” Instead, Moore told her to find a marriage counselor.

— Shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis — RFK’s rival for Jackie’s attention — once threatened to “bring down” Bobby by going public with details of the affair. “I could bury that sucker,” Onassis said, “although I’d lose Jackie in the process.”

The New York Daily News reports that the book already is generating criticism:

“It’s a new low, and you just wonder how far people are willing to go,” Laurence Learner, author of The Kennedy Men, The Kennedy Women and Sons of Camelot told the paper.

“[Heymann] is just trying to make a buck. Yes, Bobby and Jackie had a relationship as friends, but [the romance] is a total exaggeration. I feel sorry for Heymann,” he said.

 

To read more on Ethel Kennedy, read “Mama Remembers Ethel Kennedy.”

To read more on Jackie Kennedy Onassis, click “How to be Jackie O” and “Why Jackie Kennedy Married Ari Onassis.”

 To read more on the Kennedys, scroll down the right sidebar to “Categories – People – Kennedys.”

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