5 Fabulous Facts About Jackie Kennedy

David Cairns/Express/Getty Images
David Cairns/Express/Getty Images

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, who was born on July 28, 1929, was one of our country's most stylish and elegant icons for decades, but she was no empty, aloof beauty. Let's take a look at five things you might not have known about Jackie O.

1. Jackie Kennedy was almost Jackie Husted.

Keystone/Getty Images

Jacqueline Bouvier came to international prominence when JFK became president, but she very nearly had a different husband. In December 1951, she became engaged to another man, John G. W. Husted. Husted was a Yale grad, a stockbroker, and a member of the same upper class of New York society as the Bouvier family.

The engagement didn't last long, though. By March of 1952, Jackie had called it off. It's not exactly clear why she gave Husted the ax, but there's been lots of speculation. Some biographers think that Jackie's mother, Janet, felt that Husted didn't make enough money to support her in style. (His salary of $17,000 a year was roughly equivalent to $100,000 today.) Other biographers have recounted stories of Jackie confiding to friends that Husted was immature and a little on the dull side.

Whatever the reason, the relationship ended, and Jackie Bouvier was soon dating John Kennedy; the couple would marry on September 12, 1953.

2. Some paparrazi shots landed jackie kennedy in an issue of Hustler.

Nicholas Tsikourias, Getty Images

If you ever wonder how today's celebrities haven't yet realized that topless sunbathing is never a good idea if you're a target of the paparazzi, you should at least know that the exposed stars are in good company. In 1972 Jackie O. was photographed while sunning herself in the nude on husband Aristotle Onassis' private Greek island, Skorpios, by a photographer using a telescopic lens on a fishing boat.

The pictures first appeared as black-and-white prints in European men's magazines like the Italian rag Playmen, but they didn't make it to the States until Larry Flynt purchased them for his Hustler magazine in 1975. Flynt ran five full-color shots in the August issue, and despite Flynt's decision to print several million more copies than normal, the issue quickly sold out. He later called buying the pictures "the best investment I ever made."

3. Jackie Kennedy often locked horns with the paparazzi.

The flap over these nude pictures wasn't the only time the paparazzi ran afoul of Jackie O. In 1967 a particularly devoted paparazzo named Ron Galella followed Jackie home to her Manhattan apartment building and spent the next five years more or less following her every move, often from a perch on the bench in front of her building. He even went so far as to befriend one of her maids.

Jackie seemed to have taken this annoyance in stride for quite a while, but when Galella jumped in front of JFK Jr.'s bike in 1972, she had seen enough. Jackie O. took Galella to court and received a restraining order to stop Galella from harassing her. Although Galella had orders to stay 50 feet away from the former first lady, and 75 feet away from her children, he openly scoffed at this rule; 10 years later, Jackie had to sue him again. This time Galella finally gave up after facing a $125,000 fine and the potential of spending seven years in prison.

Kennedy wasn't the only person Galella drove to distraction, either. In 1973 he so enraged Marlon Brando that the star slugged him in the jaw, knocking out five of Galella's teeth. Brando's fellow actor Richard Burton loathed Galella so intensely that he hired goons to beat the photographer up.

4. Jackie Kennedy won an Emmy.

When the future First Lady toured the White House with her mother and sister in 1941, she noticed something odd: for a house with such a rich history, all of the furnishings and fixtures seemed awfully modern. Upon moving into the White House 20 years later, she set about to rectify this problem by filling the house with antiques that would accentuate the house's history. As she told LIFE Magazine, "All these people come to see the White House and they see practically nothing that dates back before 1948 ... Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to 'redecorate' it—a word I hate. It must be restored—and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship."

After throwing herself into the restoration process for over a year, Jackie was ready to unveil her restored White House to the public in 1962. On Valentine's Day of that year the major networks broadcast A Tour of the White House, in which Kennedy and CBS newscaster Charles Collingwood surveyed her handiwork. An incredible 56 million viewers watched the program, and the First Lady received a special Emmy, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Trustees Award. Lady Bird Johnson accepted the award for the First Lady, and the statuette is still on display at the Kennedy Library.

5. Jackie Kennedy was good friends with Andy Warhol.

Getty Images

Warhol's images of the grief-stricken First Lady around the time of her husband's assassination are among the most memorable of his long career, and he actually became quite chummy with his subject. The former First Lady eventually became a frequent guest at Warhol's spread in Montauk, New York, and when the artist died, he left behind a couple of pieces of odd memorabilia.

Warhol was a notorious packrat, and archivists who were trying to sort through his belongings made a pair of interesting Kennedy finds. One was a piece of cake from the wedding of Caroline Kennedy to Edwin Schlossberg in 1986; Warhol had apparently put the cake in a box and forgotten about it. The other find was a bit more titillating: a nude photo of Jackie. Even more interesting, it was apparently autographed by the lady herself; it bore the inscription "For Andy, with enduring affection, Jackie Montauk." Sounds like the former First Lady knew how to have a little fun with her image.

BONUS FACT:

One bonus fact we've mentioned before: Jackie O. was the editor of Michael Jackson's autobiography, Moonwalk.

This story has been updated for 2019.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.