5 Things You Didn’t Know About Jackie O.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was one of our country’s most stylish and elegant icons for decades, but she was no empty, aloof beauty. Let’s take a look at five things you may not know about Jackie O.
1. She Almost Didn’t Become Jackie Kennedy
Jacqueline Bouvier came to international prominence when JFK became president, but she very nearly had a different husband. In December 1951 she was engaged to another man, John G.W. Husted. Husted was a Yale grad, a stockbroker, and a member of the same upper class of New York society as the Bouvier family.
The engagement didn’t last long, though. By March of 1952, Jackie had called it off. It’s not exactly clear why she gave Husted the ax, but there’s been lots of speculation. Some biographers think that Jackie’s mother, Janet, felt that Husted didn’t make enough money to support her in style. (His salary of $17,000 a year was roughly equivalent to $100,000 today.) Other biographers have recounted stories of Jackie confiding to friends that Husted was immature and a little on the dull side.
Whatever the reason, the relationship ended, and Jackie Bouvier was soon dating John Kennedy; the couple would marry in September 1953.
2. She Accidentally Appeared in Hustler
If you ever wonder how today’s celebrities haven’t yet realized that topless sunbathing is never a good idea if you’re a target of the paparazzi, you should at least know that the exposed starlets are in good company. In 1972 Jackie O. was photographed while sunning herself in the nude on husband Aristotle Onassis’ private Greek island, Skorpios, by a photographer using a telescopic lens on a fishing boat.
The pictures first appeared as black-and-white prints in European men’s magazines like the Italian rag Playmen, but they didn’t make it to the States until Larry Flynt purchased them for his Hustler magazine in 1975. Flynt ran five full-color shots in the August issue, and despite Flynt’s decision to print several million more copies than normal, the issue quickly sold out. He later called buying the pictures “the best investment I ever made.”
3. She Locked Horns With the Paparazzi
The flap over these nude pictures wasn’t the only time the paparazzi ran afoul of Jackie O. In 1967 a particularly devoted paparazzo named Ron Galella followed Jackie home to her Manhattan apartment building and spent the next five years more or less following her every move, often from a perch on the bench in front of her building. He even went so far as to date one of her maids.
Jackie seemed to have taken this annoyance in stride for quite a while, but when Galella jumped in front of JFK Jr.’s bike in 1972, she had seen enough. Jackie O. took Galella to court and received a restraining order to stop Galella from harassing her. Although Galella had orders to stay 25 feet away from the former first lady, he openly scoffed at this rule, and 10 years later Jackie O. had to sue him again. This time Galella finally gave up after facing a $125,000 fine and the potential of spending seven years in prison.
Jackie O. wasn’t the only person Galella drove to distraction, either. In 1973 he so enraged Marlon Brando that the star slugged him in the jaw, knocking out five of Gallela’s teeth. Brando’s fellow actor Richard Burton loathed Galella so intensely that he hired goons to beat the photographer up.
4. She Won an Emmy
When the future First Lady toured the White House with her mother and sister in 1941, she noticed something odd: for a house with such a rich history, all of the furnishings and fixtures seemed awfully modern. Upon moving into the White House 20 years later, she set about to rectify this problem by filling the house with antiques that would accentuate the house’s history. As she told LIFE Magazine, “All these people come to see the White House and they see practically nothing that dates back before 1948…Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to ‘redecorate’ it — a word I hate. It must be restored — and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.”
After throwing herself into the restoration process for over a year, Jackie Kennedy was ready to unveil her restored White House to the public in 1962. On Valentine’s Day of that year the major networks broadcast A Tour of the White House, in which Kennedy and CBS newscaster Charles Collingwood surveyed her handiwork. An incredible 56 million viewers watched the program, and the First Lady received a special Emmy, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Trustees Award. Lady Bird Johnson accepted the award for the First Lady, and the statuette is still on display at the Kennedy Library.
If you want to check out the special, it’s on Hulu:
5. She Was Tight With Andy Warhol
Warhol’s images of the grief-stricken First Lady around the time of her husband’s assassination are among the most memorable of his long career, and he actually became quite chummy with their subject. The former First Lady eventually became a frequent guest at Warhol’s spread in Montauk, New York, and when the artist died, he left behind a couple of pieces of odd memorabilia.
Warhol was a notorious packrat, and archivists who were trying to sort through his belongings earlier this year made a pair of interesting Kennedy finds. One was a piece of cake from the wedding of Caroline Kennedy to Edwin Schlossberg in 1986; Warhol had apparently put the cake in a box and forgotten about it. The other find was a bit more titillating: a nude photo of Jackie O. Even more interesting, it was apparently autographed by the lady herself; it bore the inscription “For Andy, with enduring affection, Jackie Montauk.” Sounds like the former First Lady knew how to have a little fun with her image.
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One bonus fact we’ve mentioned before: Jackie O. was the editor of Michael Jackson’s autobiography, Moonwalk.
‘5 Things You Didn’t Know About…’ appears every Friday. Read the previous installments here.