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The 16-year love secret of Jackie Onassis


Jackie Kennedy and Maurice Tempelsman

She had an estimated $50 million from Aristotle Onassis but precious little love. And when he died in February 1975, the couple had barely spoken for nearly four years. At 50, Jackie Onassis had style, beauty and the adoration of millions who still regarded her as the world's most glamorous and charismatic celebrity. But none of it meant much to the woman who had spent her adult life married to men who regarded being unfaithful to her as a way of life.

"All I want is someone who will love me and no one else," she said, and in 1978 she found him — a 60 year-old diamond tycoon who had been married for 33 years. Maurice Tempelsman and his wife Lily had first met the Kennedys in the 1960s and were frequent guests at the White House. Then Tempelsman became Jackie's financial adviser but by the late 1970s he was a lot more than that. Six months after her second husband's death, Jackie decided she must get herself a career. She joined Viking Press as a commissioning editor and two years later moved to Doubleday where she worked three days a week commissioning prestige books, including Michael Jackson's autobiography.

She bought herself an estate on Martha's Vinyard and built a house. She was busy and happy but she missed having a constant male companion, and slowly Maurice Tempelsman filled that gap. By 1982, his wife, a marriage counsellor, realising that her own marriage was over in everything but name, asked him to leave the matrimonial home. Maurice Tempelsman moved first into the Stanhope Hotel near Jackie's New York apartment and then gradually spent more and more time at her home, 1040 Park Avenue. By 1983 he had moved in. Although renowned as a ruthless businessman, with Jackie Tempelsman was romantic and caring — something she had never experienced in a man before. Historical writer Lady Antonia Fraser, a close friend of Jackie's, remembered: "He really loved her and was always there for her. Can you imagine Aristotle Onassis or Jack Kennedy saying 'It's time to take your pills, dear'?

"That's the kind of attention Maurice gave her. They had a great relationship. It was very touching to see them together. "I think Maurice with his reliability, no infidelity, and making lots of money, was ideal for her. It was her first real love affair."

Another friend, writer Edna O'Brien, said: "For the first time in her life Jackie had a man on whom she could rely — a man for whom she was absolutely number one. She adored Maurice and he bought her peace of mind."

 The years passed and Jackie settled into loving contentment. In June 1993 she and Maurice travelled through Europe retracing Jackie's experiences as a student in France. They went on a barge trip down the Rhone through Provence and the Camargue. They were blissful times, but already a shadow was hovering over their happiness. Jackie was not well. She had become very thin. "We knew something wasn't right but we didn't know what," Maurice told a friend. Three months later, in New York, they knew. Jackie had cancer of the lymph system. She and Maurice Tempelsman decided to keep the illness secret for as long as possible. She would arrive at the clinic for chemotherapy in a black-windowed car wearing a hooded cape and would only go in after Maurice had checked there was no one in the waiting room.

To the few friends who shared the secret she joked that she wished she hadn't "wasted time on all those push-ups." She made light of the ordeal of chemotherapy, saying: "It gives me more time to read a book". Survival rates for her type of cancer were less than 50 per cent, but Jackie never discussed her chances of survival. She was too busy enjoying life with Maurice and her children. At the beginning of 1994 she decided to cease all therapy and spend her remaining days in peace at home. Her son moved into a local hotel to be near her and her daughter visited daily. Both would later pay tribute to the devotion of Maurice Tempelsman. Jackie had not lost her sense of humour. Looking around her apartment, she told her children: "Sell everything. You'll make a lot of money."

It was as if she foresaw the three days of hysteria as her belongings were sold at Sotheby's two years later, with admirers fighting to pay vast prices for the tiniest keepsakes. Jackie Kennedy Bouvier Onassis died on the morning of May 19, 1994 at home with her children sitting with her and Maurice Tempelsman holding her hand. He would later say: "She went out with her usual courage and style." She was 64.

Today in his mid-eighties, Maurice Tempelsman lives quietly with his memories of the great love of his life. When the bickering started over Jackie's $100 million estate he took no part in it.

All he got in the will — and all he wanted — was a simple antique vase they had bought together in Paris when they first knew that it would only be a matter of months before they would have to say goodbye.

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How romantic yet how sad! As they say the "good"
die young! RIP Jackie Bouvier!!