Yesterday marked what would have been the 43th wedding anniversary of Jackie O and Aristotle Onassis. Jacqueline Kennedy stunned so many by marrying Onassis, who was the opposite of her first husband in appearance, age and approach to many aspects of life. He was mercurial, could be crude, and was old fashioned about many things, especially his treatment of women. He flaunted his affair with Maria Callas, before and after he married Jackie.
Indeed, Onassis was an incongruous mate for America’s queen: 29 years older than Jackie, two inches shorter at just five-foot-five, fatter, rougher than the horsy-artsy-intellectual crowd with which she was imbedded. He was a divorcee and world-class womanizer. She was the good Catholic who had learned to turn the other cheek in her first marriage. He loved bouzouki music and smashed pottery in Greek tavernas, once running up a bill as high as $1,000 for all the dishware that he threw one night. She loved the theater. He didn’t. He was a night person, typically waking when she was eating lunch. Onassis often wore a dark suit and tie, even in the summer. Jackie, by contrast, was always impeccably dressed according to season and occasion, and a regular at Valentino – who had made the off-white knee-length skirt and lace-covered sweater she wore for the Greek wedding.
Whatever reasons she may have had for marrying Onassis – love, money, security – even her admirers were perplexed by her choice.
When her friend Truman Capote asked her why, she said, “I can’t very well marry a dentist from New Jersey!”
Other friends told her she was going to fall off her pedestal if she married Onassis.
“That’s better than freezing there,” she scoffed.