The Cigar Husbands of Jackie Kennedy
John F. Kennedy via Twitter
Around the world, September Fashion Week and signature September magazine issues are signally the season of fall. As we are in the most stylish month, we’re reminded of style icons like Jackie Kennedy, who cocooned her sometimes mournful and pitiful body in rapturous wealth. 60’s tobacco culture meant both her husbands loyally smoked. But whereas other prominent figures of the times are rarely linked to the leisure, Aristotle Onassis and John F. Kennedy are two of the biggest cigar idols in the world of cigar connoisseurs.
THE HUNT FOR HABANOS - On February 2nd 1962, Pierre Salinger – White House Secretary and persistent cigar smoker, attended an urgent meeting. “I need some cigars”. A basic request from JFK, only he needed a thousand promptly and specifically Cuban. His favourite – H. Upmann Cigars, are one of the oldest and most treasured. Their slightly darker colour and characteristically medium flavour assumedly tantalised his taste buds. Salinger, as a trusted and assiduous Kennedy patron, dutifully obliged. He returned with 1,200 Cuban Cigars the next morning, shortly before JFK signed an embargo law to stop America trading with Cuba. As cigar aficionados and firm believers of the quality implanted in Habanos, we proudly share this anecdote as though we were in the meeting. The president knew no other country could deliver, and we respectfully agree. The perfect terrain, historical knowledge and climate – there’s simply Cuban cigars and Cuban cigars.
Top: John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy with children John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, Bottom Left: John F. Kennedy speaking to committee, Bottom Centre: John F. Kennedy in Dublin, Bottom Right: John F. Kennedy with Jackie Kennedy
"Jackie resembled a classic 60's woman"
KENNEDY CIGAR TRADITION - JFK himself was not a cigar smoker in the same standing as Churchill. He followed in the foot-steps of his Havana cigar-loving father, and enjoyed having one on hand to casually puff throughout dinner. His brother Bobby – rumoured to have shared romantic relations with Jackie, followed in his family’s tradition and smoked Cubans too. Jackie resembled a classic 60’s woman, chain-smoking cigarettes with little remorse or worry over the continual side-effects of inhaling large quantities of cigarette tobacco. Though some stories insinuate she had pressed her lips to a cigar on short bursts of occasion. Two years after Jackie Kennedy’s death – then Mrs. Onassis, an astonishing 1996 auction took place. A four-day bidding frenzy – fever-pitched bidders bought astronomically priced items, including a $574,500 humidor, once belonging to JFK. The humidor was an Inauguration Day present from Milton Berle – an American comedian and cigar smoker who we mentioned on our post: The Art Between a Creative and Their Cuban Cigar.
"I just wanted to be with him when he died" - Jackie Kennedy
PRESIDENTIAL MOURNING - After the death of JFK, a period of mourning engulfed America. Jackie captivated the country – she privately felt the pain of sorrow as she dutifully performed public duty, becoming the face of public resilience. In an interview with LIFE Magazine, writer Theodore H. White shared the hardship she faced. Jackie remarked, “I just wanted to be with him when he died”. She spoke about the fateful car ride where her husband's blood and brains were all over her – the elegance of her Chanel suit splattered in red, she mentioned the calm look on her husband’s face a pre-second before death, and she relayed how she watched him enter his final resting in his coffin. Across the other side of the world, a proud Greek shipping tycoon watched the story unravel. In Paris with his beloved Maria Callas – a beautiful, Italian opera singer who fell heedlessly in love with him, Onassis watched Jackie become the most famous women in the world. As a power-hungry businessman, his interest in the former First Lady grew. He saw her as an opportunity to US acclaim and honour. Quickly he seeded an affair, soon marrying Jackie and leaving behind his great love Callas.
Left: Jackie Kennedy, Top Right: Shipping tycoon Onassis family boat, Bottom Right: Aristotle Onassis
ONASSIS CUBAN CIGAR CHOICE - Divulged in the book: ‘Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story’, a section describes Onassis with an “enveloping cloud of Montecristo cigar smoke”. Created exclusively with leaves from Cuba’s renowned Vuelta Abajo region, Montecristo Cigars are the cream of the cigar crop, taking refuge with Cohiba Cigars as two of the world’s best-known companies. Using the finest cigar rollers, Montecristo Cigars extend a wide portfolio of shapes, strength and size, satisfying both new and experienced smokers. Christina – Onassis's prized yacht, greeted some of the brightest and utmost important faces in world history. Churchill joined Onassis on the yacht sailing the Mediterranean. He was supplied cigars during his travels.
FINAL LEGACY - While Onassis doesn’t hold the prestige and notoriety of JFK, and as such, is not as embalmed in cigar history, to the people who know his name and show modest knowledge of famous cigar smokers, Aristotle Onassis is remembered as a true cigar enthusiast. Marrying Jackie Kennedy never did give him the American influence he craved. He lost the respect of his Greek peers, his cherished son passed away, and Maria Callas, who forever ran back to him whenever he called, was not by his bedside when he died. Jackie told the hospital to keep her away. Two years later, Callas – hidden in the darkly-lit space of her apartment, met an identical fate. Aged 54, weak and fragile, she blacked out and died of a heart attack. Though in the build-up to her death – retreating since losing Onassis, most consider she died of a broken heart. Jackie Kennedy is forever remembered stylishly in American history, and John F. Kennedy is always a celebrated president, however, him and Onassis live on in cigar memory as two top acclaimed cigar smokers.
Here are some of our favourite Cuban Cigars online from JFK's favourite H. Upmann Cigars and Onassis Montecristo Cigars: