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Did Jackie Kennedy Take the Curse to the Onassis Family?

Updated on November 9, 2014

The Kennedy family curse

Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis
Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis | Source

Jacqueline Bouvier married John Kennedy in September of 1953. It’s often said that the Kennedy family was subject to a curse due to the tragedies that befell its members. Only a few of these took place before Jackie and JFK were married; three in fact.

Kennedy’s sister Rosemary had been considered educationally challenged. She had appeared to be perfectly normal but it was when she was in young adulthood that her mood swings were particularly troublesome. Her father arranged for her to have a lobotomy. It wasn't a success and she was totally dependent on the care of others for the rest of her life.

Joe Junior was JFK’s elder brother and as such, the political hopes of his father rested upon him. However, he was killed when serving in the military in the Second World War. Although he was tragically young, unfortunately this was all too familiar a story during wartime.Another sibling, Kathleen, had outraged the family (particularly her mother,Rose) by marrying a non-Catholic member of the British aristocracy. Her young husband was also killed during WW2. She intended to marry again - to another well-born Englishman - but the couple were killed in an air crash in 1948.

Jacqueline Bouvier
Jacqueline Bouvier | Source

The married life of John and Jackie Kennedy

Three years after her marriage, Jackie gave birth to a stillborn daughter.

Several years later, in 1963, just two months before the assassination, she gave birth prematurely to another child, a boy, who lived for only a couple of days.

The marriage itself was notoriously stormy.

Jackie knew that her husband was a womaniser, although the general public was mostly unaware and he was beset with health problems, notably chronic back problems but was also diagnosed with Addison’s Disease and he also had an underactive thyroid.

The Kennedy funeral
The Kennedy funeral | Source

22 November 1963

Any speculation about the state of the marriage was brought abruptly to a halt in Dallas.

Jackie was naturally distraught and when her brother-in-law Ted was involved in a plane crash the following year (he suffered serious injuries but survived however the pilot and another man were killed) it did seem that there was indeed a curse on the family.

Four years later, another Kennedy brother was assassinated and this enhanced Jackie’s fear about the curse. Would it affect her and her children? She needed to get out of America to a place where she and her children could be safe.

Thus she married Aristotle Onassis, probably the only man in the world who could afford her the protection and privacy she required. You can read more about the Kennedy / Onassis marriage here.


The Kennedy Curse

Shortly after Jackie had married Onassis, Ted Kennedy was involved in a car accident in which a young woman died, he himself speculated to the press whether indeed such a curse did exist and was affecting the family.

Meanwhile, in Greece... by the beginning of 1973, four-year marriage between Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis was not exactly a fairy tale marriage by any means.

His two children, both young adults, were not keen on their new stepmother, referring to her as ‘the black widow’.

But things were to take a tragic turn. Aristotle’s only son, Alexander, was in a plane crash in January 1973 and died a few days later.

The cursed Onassis family
The cursed Onassis family | Source

Now, the Greek population began to wonder about the supposed Kennedy curse and whether it had come along with Jackie. Until she arrived on the scene, the Onassis family had seemingly been a comparatively secure - and very wealthy - family unit. True, Aristotle had divorced the mother of his children, but the family was a strong one.

This loss affected Onassis greatly. He refused to accept that the plane crash had been accidental. He was certain that the aircraft had been sabotaged.

Increasingly, he was swayed by his daughter, Christina, who was convinced that Jackie had brought the Kennedy family curse into their own family.

As Jackie and Aristotle’s marriage continued on its rocky (and often separate) way, Robert Kennedy’s son caused an accident uncannily like that of his Uncle Ted. His passenger survived but was paralysed for life. This was just six months after Alexander Onassis had died.

Three months after that, Ted Kennedy had a leg amputated due to bone cancer. Was the family really cursed? Would these misfortunes ever end? Had the curse really transferred to the Onassis family?

It seemed so. Just fourteen months after Robert Kennedy’s son’s accident, Athina, the mother of Onassis’ children, took an overdose in Paris. The remaining child, Christina, had now lost her mother.

Further Onassis misfortunes

The Onassis business empire seemed to be impregnable but soon, business issues beset the family. In addition, Aristotle’s health was becoming worse. As his illness advanced, he became even more certain that Jackie and the Kennedy curse were the reasons for the misfortunes that had befallen the family since the marriage.

He decided to take two courses of action. He contacted his American attorney and demanded that divorce proceedings should be initiated. He also issued a new will. He made his daughter his heir and arranged allowances for Jackie and her children.

It was apparent that he didn't have long to live. Onassis was admitted into hospital as his illness had worsened. Jackie however, allegedly was assured that her husband was in a stable condition, flew to New York to see her children where they were at school. She was in New York when Onassis died in March 1975

Meanwhile in America, Ethel Kennedy’s nephew allegedly killed a fifteen year old girl in a brutal attack.

The curse continues

In 1984 one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s sons died of a drug overdose. Four years later the pendulum swung in the direction of the Onassis family when four times divorced Christina died of heart attack at the age of thirty seven.

The troubled Kennedy family’s tragedies continued. A member of the family was arrested for rape and six years later, the much-bereaved Ethel lost another son in a skiing accident. This was shortly after he had also been suspected of rape.

Less than two years later, Jackie’s son died - also in a plane. Mercifully, the ‘curse carrier’ did not live to witness this tragedy as she had died in 1994 of cancer at the age of only sixty-four.


Related articles:

How was devout Catholic Jackie Kennedy able to marry the divorced Aristotle Onassis? At the time of their marriage, his ex-wife was still alive which is against the teachings of the church.
The story is completely fascinating.

Read about the tragic life of JFK’s sister,Kathleen. She found happiness, but defied her parents, when she married into aristocracy. Widowed shortly afterwards she thought she’d found happiness again but it wasn't to be.
Read her story.

Their brother Joe, the eldest Kennedy son, also has a tragic story. He died during the Second World War as so many other young men did. He too was in the midst of an affair with a member of the British aristocracy.
Read their story.

Surprisingly, Jackie Kennedy herself almost became a member of the British aristocracy too. She had been seeing - and was proposed to by - Lord Harlech. Yet she chose Aristotle Onassis.
Read more about this story.

Strangely, there is also an Onassis connection with English aristocracy. When Onassis divorced his first wife, Athina, she went on to marry the wealthy Duke of Marlborough until their divorce upon which she married her late sister’s widower.
Strange story.

What do you think?

Was the Kennedy (and by implication, Onassis) curse a reality? Or do you think that the journalist quoted below is correct?

© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting theory.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      So much sadness in one family.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @bravewarrior - true. And the Kennedy family was, and still is, so huge. I suppose it was inevitable that there would be some who didn't make it especially in the case of such public and controversial figures. It is strange that the Onassis family were affected but maybe that's to do with enormous wealth.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Some say the Kennedy's were more targeted than cursed.

      I don't think Jackie was a carrier. Perhaps the Onassis tragedies were the result of lifestyle.

      I guess we'll never know.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Sunshine625 - it's beyond coincidence really, isn't it?

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @LindaaSmith1 - and his wife too. It's very strange how the Onassis family seemed cursed after Jackie married Ari, isn't it?

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Wow! I knew some of this, but not all. Now that's some serious drama!

    • LindaSmith1 profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Yes! Even her own son dying in the plane crash.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @LindaSmith1 - it's uncanny, isn't it?I didn't include the most recent tragedies in the article but it seems that the Kennedy name still has some sort of 'curse' attached.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      The tragedies in the Kennedy family were enormous, this is for sure.


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