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Life on the Christina O

Not unlike his business headquarters in Monaco, an Avenue Foch apartment in Paris, a Hotel Pierre suite he kept in New York, and his surprisingly modest home at Glyfada on the outskirts of Athens, however, Skorpios seemed to be more of a way station, a place to briefly gather himself before going on the move again.

Onassis may have had a public reputation for partying, but with business deals being simultaneously conducted in every part of the world, managing his global empire meant he rarely slept for any given stretch of hours. More than than any one location, he was most at home on the move in his great pride and joy, his yacht Christina.
Onassis bought the 325-foot naval frigate for scrap metal in 1954 , paying $34,000 but spent $4 million to meticulously convert it into the fabled luxury yacht it soon became. Then married to the former Tina Livanos, by whom he had two children, Alexander born in 1948 and Christina, born in 1950, he named the vessel after his daughter.

Soon enough, even those who never had a chance of being invited onto the Christina learned that it was the magnate’s magnet for drawing he world’s most famous celebrities.

It was on the yacht that Onassis conducted his passionate love affair with opera singer Maria Callas. Here, he entertained famous beauties like Sophie Loren and Marilyn Monroe.

It was on the yacht that Onassis conducted his passionate love affair with opera singer Maria Callas. Here, he entertained famous beauties like Sophie Loren and Marilyn Monroe.
The Christina had enough suites (all named after different Greek islands) to accompany over two dozen guests at any given time.

A frequent repeat visitor was his friend American actress Elizabeth Taylor who came with her husband Richard Burton and alone, during breaking points in their tempestuous relationship.
During a summer sojourn in the south of France, U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy had the chance to meet his hero on the yacht, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was a close Onassis friend.

Accompanying the Senator was his young wife, the former reporter Jacqueline Bouvier.
After this first look around the Onassis yacht, she famously came back a second time in late September and early October of 1963, a stay that was part of a more extensive vacation she made which included visits to Morocco as the guest of King Hassan and Yugoslavia, during her tenure as First Lady.

That private vacation had been arranged by her sister Lee, then married the deposed Polish prince Stanislaus Radzwill, both of whom would join her on it. Residents of London, the Radziwills had already been to some of the legendary Christina parties.

Much has been written about that trip, with President Kennedy’s secretary Evelyn Lincoln later claiming that he was against his wife and sister-in-law being the guests of Onassis on his yacht because the magnate was then involved in questionable acts violating U.S. shipping regulations.

However, Pamela Turnure, the First Lady’s press secretary specifically recalled that other advisers were against the trip because of political repercussions (which did ensue), but that Kennedy insisted that she must chose to go if she wished, wanting her to seek the time for emotional recovery following the unexpected death of their prematurely-born son Patrick. As part of the U.S. entourage that escorted her, however, JFK send along his Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. and his wife Sue.

Onassis in his yacht office.

Liz parties with Onassis

Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly on the Onassis yacht.

American movie star Grace Kelly spent her 1956 honeymoon with Monaco’s Prince Rainier on the Christina.

An Onassis party on his yacht with members of the international Jet Set.

Onassis (dark suit) stands on his yacht alongside the seated Winston Churchill. (

A Christina luncheon

Wearing a kerchief and her trademark black sunglasses, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, escorted by her friends Navy Undersecretary Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. and his wife Sue (who flank her her) was first a guest aboard the famous yacht of Onassis (he stands in black shirt) in the fall of 1963.
Barely a month later, Onassis again saw Jackie Kennedy, this time invited by her as a personal guest for the November 26, 1963 funeral of President Kennedy, following his Dallas assassination three days earlier.

The widowed Jackie Kennedy snapped with Onassis for a night on the town in 1967.

Jackie emerges from the Ionian

The Ari and Jackie Onassis wedding picture which appeared on the cover of Life magazine.

The Onassis wedding reception held in the yacht’s main salon.
The vision of the tawny-haired bride and her shorter, slicked-back silver-haired groom on the cover of national magazines and then numerous black-and-white press snapshots of them in the daily newspapers initially unnerved and even depressed millions of people who reverentially followed her every move.

Jackie and Ari were lampooned on a comedy record.
Soon enough, the anger and shock at Jackie turned to belittling parody.
The same acting troupe which had parodied Jackie and the Kennedys in the White House on a comedy album now released a new one called, Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.
In one segment, her new husband’s simultaneous generosity and parsimony was parodied by the sound gag of heavy bags of gold bullion being carried in and dumped at her feet as the “Jackie Onassis” character turns to a houseguest on the yacht and quips, “See how thoughtful he is? All I asked for was a quarter to the ladies room.”

Yet that’s what she hoped to escape. When a friend told her that marrying Onassis would knock her “off your pedestal,” she quipped, “That’s better than freezing there.”

Jackie, her daughter and new husband making their way from the church to a golf cart they took to the yacht.

The boats crammed with reporters and photographers surrounding the Onassis yacht.

Women’s Wear Daily newspaper christened them “Daddy O” and “Jackie O,” a nickname handle which stuck to her forever.
Coming two weeks before the 1968 election of Richard Nixon and his vice-presidential nominee Spiro Agnew, comedienne Bob Hope cracked about the former First Lady’s wedding, “Nixon got a Greek running mate. Now everyone wants one.”
The event itself became a fiasco.

Ari and Jackie Kennedy Onassis at their wedding reception aboard his yacht Christina.

Onassis, who had always enjoyed the publicity which came from his parties and exploits, convinced Jackie to cooperate with the press and let them get footage and snapshots of them as they emerged from the church.
The real problem was in the water around the Christina, however.
There motorboats and small vessels were overloaded with reporters and photographers from around the world.

Jackie just managed a smile when a mike was thrust before them.

Finally, the newlyweds emerged onto the deck to pose for more pictures before any of the small vessels capsized and someone could potentially drown.
If the images taken as they pose show the former First Lady a little less than happy on her wedding night, it may have only further affirmed the primary of practical reasons she had offered to some friends and family about why she was marrying Ari.

Wedding poses for the press.

He literally had an island and that was one place that could ensure her the privacy from the press and public which had so desperately sought.
Part of her determination was not just personal preference but fear. Just eighteen weeks earlier, Jackie Kennedy’s brother-in-law, United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) had been assassinated like her husband.
Such acts tend to bring out more such threats and as she was famously quoted as saying at the time, “my kids are next.”

The uncertain newlyweds.

Although she lost her Secret Service protection when she re-married, her daughter and son Caroline and John Kennedy, Jr. would continue to be trailed and watched by the agents assigned to them and thus further help ensure the privacy of Ari and Jackie.
When she was alone with her husband, however, the new Mrs. Onassis had to depend on the private guards which Ari only haphazardly hired at times.

The new Mrs. Aristotle Onassis and husband.

This post first appeared on Aristotle Onassis - Αριστοτέλης Ωνάσης, please read the originial post: here

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Life on the Christina O


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