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This Week in History: November 19th to 25th

November 22, 2021

November 19th:

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.

November 20th:

On this day in 2001, political analyst, television host, and former Democratic advisor George Stephanopoulos married actress Alexandra Wentworth at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan, New York. The couple met on a blind lunch date (set up by a mutual friend). Stephanopoulos said that once Wentworth started talking, he “didn’t remember to eat his lunch” – adding that he knew within 24 hours that he “would not ever dare risk losing her.” Stephanopoulos’ father, Rev. Dr. Robert G. Stephanopoulos, now a retired priest, performed the wedding ceremony. The couple went on to have two daughters: one born in 2002 and one born in 2005.

November 23rd:

On this day in 1996, Irene Skliva, a Greek model and beauty queen, was crowned the 46th Miss World at the age of 18. Born on April 4, 1978 in Athens, Skliva first won the title of Miss Hellas at the Miss Star Hellas Pageant before heading off to India where she represented her home country and competed for the title of Miss World. After completing her duties, Skliva returned to Greece where she pursued a career in television and modeling. She got married in 2002 and had her first daughter in 2003.

November 25th:

On this day in 1826, the Greek frigate Hellas arrived in Nafplio to become the first flagship of the Revolutionary Hellenic Navy. The frigate was burned in 1831 by the Greek Admiral Andreas Miaoulis when the government of Ioannis Kapodistrias ordered her turned over to the Russian navy.

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