- NAME: Aristotle Onassis
- OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur
- BIRTH DATE: January 15, 1906
- DEATH DATE: March 15, 1975
- EDUCATION: Evangelical Greek School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Karatas, Turkey
- PLACE OF DEATH: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
- Originally: Aristotle Sokratis Onassis
- Nickname: Ari
- Nickname: Aristo
- Full Name: Aristotle Onassis
Best Known For
Aristotle Onassis is best known as the Greek shipping tycoon who married JFK’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, in 1968. Onassis died on March 15, 1975.
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Aristotle Onassis was a Greek entrepreneur born on January 15, 1906, in Smyrna, a town in present-day Turkey. In the 1920s Onassis launched his own cigarette brand. Shortly thereafter he realized that tobacco shipping generated more revenue, and went into the cargo ship business. The shipping tycoon dated many famous women, including the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy, whom he married in 1968.
If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.
Aristotle Onassis, who was called Ari by most everyone, was born on January 15, 1906, in Smyrna, a town in present-day Turkey. After the Turks invaded his town, Ari decided to leave for Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1923, he got a job as a telephone engineer. Poor but clever, he eavesdropped on business calls and used the information to set up deals of his own. He was soon making loads of money and buying beautiful clothes. His ability to reinvent himself as an “important businessman” during the day, yet continuing to work the phone lines in coveralls at night, was an early indication of his shrewd social and business skills.
His first big idea came in the mid-1920s, when he overheard a phone call about a new “talkie” that would have its main character smoke a cigarette. Ari got the idea to start his own brand of cigarettes. He chose a famous opera singer as the perfect model. To get her to smoke his brand in public, he showed up at her dressing room with a giant bouquet of flowers. Amazingly, he seduced her. She, of course, smoked his brand of cigarettes. By the age of 25, his tobacco business had made him a millionaire. Building on his wealth, he realized that the shipping magnates who hauled the tobacco made more than the cigarette manufacturer. This realization came to him at the height of the Great Depression. Just when everyone was getting out of the shipping business, Ari was able to buy six ships for less than half of what they would normally be worth.
At the outbreak of World War II, Onassis leased his cargo ships to the Allies. His wealth grew enormously, and so did his social standing. He began dating a string of famous women, including Greta Garbo. Within a few years, he met the daughter of the richest shipping magnate in the world, Athina Livanos, a woman almost half his age. They married and had two children. Soon, however, both of them were having affairs. In 1957, Ari met Maria Callas, one of the most famous opera singers in the world. Ari was so proud of his relationship with Callas that he began to flaunt it. Athina was wrecked by embarrassment and divorced him.
Several months before John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Onassis befriended Jackie Kennedy, America’s queen. In the agony following JFK’s death, Jackie clung to Ari for friendship. In time, they become lovers. In 1968, the two married on Onassis’ privately owned island. America reacted very badly. One newspaper’s headline implored, “Jackie, How Could You?”
Ari’s son, Alexander, was a notorious brat as a child, but when he was a grown man, Ari insisted that his son work for him. In 1973, Alexander died in a terrible plane crash.
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