Obituary: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Trewin, Ion, The Independent (London, England)
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, publisher; born Southampton, New York 28 July 1929; consultant, Viking Press 1975-77; Associate Editor, Doubleday and Co 1978-82, Editor 1982-94; married 1953 John F. Kennedy (died 1963; one son, one daughter, and one son and one daughter deceased), 1968 Aristotle Onassis (died 1975); died New York City 19 May 1994.
JACQUELINE ONASSIS was first tempted into the world of books in 1975 by Tom Guinzberg, at Viking Press in New York, writes Ion Trewin. But she resigned when he published (without telling her, she later insisted), a thriller by Jeffrey Archer, Shall We Tell the President? (1977), in which her brother-in-law Edward Kennedy featured. Her publishing career truly flowered when she joined another well-established New York house, Doubleday.
The Jacqueline Onassis imprint was an entirely personal list. Only books which she enthused about would carry her imprimatur. But there was nothing self-indulgent in her publishing. Books had to have a commercial raison d'etre as well.
Her greatest success was probably the most unlikely - the rockstar Michael Jackson's autobiographical book Moonwalk, which sold over a million copies in English-language editions. Then in 1991 she contracted to publish the first post-glasnost biography of the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, by a distinguished Russian playwright, Edvard Radzinsky. As the English publisher of The Last Tsar, I collaborated with Mrs Onassis - as she preferred to be known professionally - and I remember with almost photographic recall our first meeting. I think I had expected an enormous office - with staff to match.
Instead I was led to a simple cubicle. Her assistant knocked at the open door as we entered. She looked up and the years slipped away. With glasses pushed up and back over her hair, only a few lines in her face betrayed the years that had passed since she had been the most photographed woman of her generation.
I had brought photographs from the archive of Sydney Gibbes, who had been English tutor to Alexis, the only son of Nicholas II. Glass plate negatives at Luton Hoo had yielded photographs of the last years of the Romanovs which she had not seen before. We spent a morning discussing their merits and the captions. This was trans- Atlantic publishing co-operation at its best. We provided photographs, she offered to produce a map of Tsarist Russia, and jointly we edited a script that turned into a modern classic.
Her publishing talent and …
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Publication information: Article title: Obituary: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Contributors: Trewin, Ion - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: May 21, 1994. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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