On this day in 1988, Christina Onassis, the Greek businesswoman, socialite, heiress, and only daughter of Aristotle Onassis and Athina (Tina) Onassis Niarchos, died of heart failure at the young age of 37. Christina and her older brother, Alexander, were raised and educated in France, Greece, and England. She attended Oxford and Queen’s College in London from 1968 to 1969. In 1960, Christina’s parents divorced (likely precipitated by her father’s affair with opera singer Maria Callas). In a tragic course of events, Christina lost her entire immediate family within a 29- month period beginning in 1974. Her brother Alexander died in a plane crash in Athens at the age of 24 – which devastated the family. Her mother died of a suspected drug overdose shortly thereafter, leaving Christina her $77 million estate. Her father’s health deteriorated after Alexander’s death and he died in early 1975. After losing her father, Christina inherited 55% of his fortune, then estimated to be worth $500 million. She received considerable media attention for her lavish lifestyle, spending habits, and turbulent personal life (she was married and divorced four times). Her frequent battles with her weight and inability to find lasting love left her clinically depressed. On November 19, 1988, Christina’s body was found by her maid in the bathtub of a mansion in Buenos Aires where she had been staying. A private Greek Orthodox funeral was held for her at a chapel on the Onassis-owned island of Skorpios where she was buried alongside her father and brother. Her fortune was willed to her only child, Athina.
On this day in 2001, TV news anchor, political correspondent, and host George Stephanopoulos married actress Alexandra Wentworth at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan. In 2001, Stephanopoulos appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, where he still serves as a political commentator, along with his fiance Alexandra at the time, and announced their engagement. It is said that he proposed after only three months of dating. Stephanopoulos’ father, Very Reverend Robert Stephanopoulos, is a Dean Emeritus at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York and presided over the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony that united Stephanopoulos and Wentworth.
On this day in 1996 Irene Skliva of Greece was crowned the 46th Miss World at the Miss World Pageant. Before gaining this title, earlier in the same year she had won the title of Miss Hellas at the Miss Star Hellas pageant. As an 18-year-old woman at the time, she could not believe it was real: “I had the feeling it was just another rehearsal… In one rehearsal, they used me as the mock winner.” The 1996 Pageant was held in Bangalore, India. For two months leading up to the event, the Pageant was dogged by protesters who claimed that it was demeaning to women and undermined India’s 5,000-year-old cultural heritage. Several protesters died after setting themselves on fire to protest the contest. After completing her Miss World duties, Skliva returned to Greece where she pursued a career in television and modeling. She appeared on the covers of many Greek magazines – including Diva and LipStick. The beauty queen also participated in some of the world’s biggest fashion shows in Athens, Milan, and Munich.