In the summer of 1959, Sir Winston Churchill embarked on a Mediterranean cruise aboard Aristotle Onassis‘ yacht, the Christina O.
Sir Winston was apparently not very pleased with the somewhat tense atmosphere.
Onassis brought along his wife and the famed opera diva Maria Callas, who came with her husband. Even though there was plenty of room to maneuver aboard the 325-ft. vessel, at the time the world’s most luxurious yacht — albeit with some rather vulgar touches such as bar stools upholstered in whale penis leather.
The yacht also had a swimming pool that doubled as a dance floor — Onassis’ party trick was to flood it while people were still doing foxtrot. Among the amenities on the vessel was Onassis’ beach car complete with wicker seats, which would be winched down to the dock wherever the yacht pulled in so he would be assured of stylish transport.
In the featured photo (see above) Onassis drives Churchill and companions to see the famous Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Churchill is appropriately Panama-hatted while Onassis sports his trademark wraparound shades.
UPDATE FROM A READER
Joan Gage via Facebook writes the following:
Callas was not Onassis’ mistress at the beginning of this cruise! She had been invited aboard along with her husband Battista Meneghini, and she had never been unfaithful to him. By the end of the cruise things had changed. Winston Churchill was on board, along with his wife, his daughter (suffering through a divorce) and his 16-year-old granddaughter, who shared vivid memories of the cruise. By the end of the cruise most of the people on board, including Onassis’ wife Tina, were aware of what was going on, but Churchill seemed to remain blissfully oblivious. The day by day story of this historic cruise is exclusively (and for the first time accurately) told in Nicholas Gage’s book “Greek Fire, The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis.“
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