The Secrets of Mykonos Celebrities. PRIVE May 12, 2022

The Secrets of Mykonos Celebrities.

An alternative approach to the international travelers and celebrities of Mykonos, “Island of Winds”. 

Mykonos was once a barren poor island. From another perspective,  a fairytale haven for the few. Then it became a famous destination of luxury and wealth, Mykonos celebrities would start visiting year after year.
The island of Winds has gone through many stages and its success is due to the diligence and open mind of its inhabitants.
Located within the Cyclades and encompassed by the blue-green water of the Aegean Sea, embodied gods, protagonists in the most iconic ancient Greek myths, shaped her incalculable societies for thousands of years.
The end of the 20th century and the last couple of decades are highlighted by a human society facing an accelerating momentum towards the global change challenge most rapidly than ever before.

Little Venice. The row of two-storey houses with colorful window frames is separated from the sea by a narrow paved walkway. © Discover Greece

During that period, Mykonos found herself (Greeks refer to Mykonos as a “she”), at the epicenter of the world travel map, as an ideal world.
An island where a beautiful beach named Paradise, exists only to lead to another beach be named Super Paradise. An island with no limits, where infinity’s existence is proven by experiencing it in real-time.
The island on which one finds him/her/itself in the middle of all and nothing, staring into space, realizing there are no limits in dreaming, the real world has no boundaries and beauty is a handmade work of Gods with human hearts (or humans with the touch of a God).
How to resist?    

Strolling around the cobblestone alleyways of the main town. © Discover Greece

Isn’t she a beauty?
This mountain tip is a landmark as a result of millions of years of geophysical evolution.
Today, Mykonos attracts more than ever the creative energies and the hearts of worldwide brands, craftsmen, wonderers, and party-goers from all around the globe, checking the isle as a steady, catholic goal to experience the cosmopolitan lifestyle, being a part of the “cosmos” while visiting the “polis” and bringing the hype in life with a style engraved and engraving the international jet-set society: The cosmopolitan style. 
In this series, we will find out more about how the international Mykonian society, that has been appointed with a birth sign in the 20th century, co-exists, interacts, and lives along with the locals, and how it keeps shaping the island’s vibes during the first decades of the 21st century.

A porter of Mykonos circa 1978.

We will do so, by exploring personalities of an international appeal, known and unknown, from the very beginning of the island’s modern history, through their personal media archives, books that have been shared, and stories that have been told but remain unwritten.
We will explore how Mykonos has influenced those personalities, and how these personalities have influenced Mykonos.
We will discover how these celebrators of life, gave a new meaning to the world “celebrity”, and how this new meaning affected the island’s culture as much as the personalities of Mykonos’ local and international celebrities, worked as an attractive pole of good vibes, and a focus guide on the positive aspects of life.   

In this episode: The Greek and International Celebrities that Started It ALL (plus a surprise truly local one)

The Athenians

Left: Zachos Xatzifotiou with Melina Merkouri at Mykonos. Right: Zachos portrayed at Mykonos

“I do not know if I discovered it, but I must tell you that I first visited the island at the age of 17. Just before the war. It was the summer of ’40 and together with beautiful girls from Kifissia, we were in Mykonos” Zachos Chatzifotiou.
The first company that wets its feet in Gialos consists of Eleni Vlachou, Melina Merkouri, Nadia Papadopoulou, Rena and Andreas Iakovidis, Petros Payn, Nikos Charilaos, and of course Zachos Hadjifotiou.
Eleni Vlahou was the daughter of a respectful Athenian newspaper publisher “Kathimerini” (Daily News) and a controversial personality of the times. We have no words for Melina Merkouri, she is totally worth a google search with her name if you don’t know her by now.
Zachos was the ultimate combination of a “Jeune premier” and a “bon viveur” back in the day.

Zachos photographed at his house in early 2021 © Penelope Masouris

Today aged 98, Zachos is the last living legend of the first company of those celebrators of life that set foot on the island. A company of which all were members of the Athenian high society, true cosmopolitans.
What a way to start this amazing story of celebrities in Mykonos don’t you agree?
And there is more:
The Royals and the Greek tycoons.
The island of Mykonos has long been world known for its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and mild climate. In fact, the island’s fame is largely due to a number of events that occurred there in the mid-1950s.

Anthony Quinn on during the set of “The Greek Tycoon” Mykonos 1978, ©Stanley Bielecki

In the 1950s, Mykonos became a symbol of the post-war generation, as the island was the setting for the films “The Greek Tycoon” and “Ascenseur pour l’echelle de goût”.
But, the spark that ignited the flame of glory that still burns today was a royal one.

King Paul and Queen Frederica of Greece,(Mykonos, 1954)

Mykonos had already begun to be an earthly paradise of the rich and famous of the time but also of the blue blood. In the early 50s, the royal couple of Paul and Frederick included Mykonos on the cruise they made on the Greek islands, on a mission to find the perfect island for their post-war honeymoon.
The couple and their guests disembarked at Mykonos port and had what seemed to be a first look at the island and then head back to the port of Athens. The royal couple took a drive to the seaside resort of Vouliagmeni and returned to Mykonos for a second time as they couldn’t resist the island’s magnetic energy.
After the Royal couple, the reputation of the island skyrockets.

Mykonos, 1950 © Jan Willemsen

Mykonos then, however, was not like now, or in a bizarre way, Mykonos in the 50s was… like now! 
In addition to the tycoons, celebrities, and the royal family, Mykonos was visited for its quality and beauty by people of spirit. Kazantzakis, Venezis, Tsarouchis, Eggonopoulos, Seferis, and Elytis, are some of the spiritual people who loved and praised the island. Also the favorite island of the actress and later Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, who often visited Myukonos.
Let’s take the things from the beginning.
In the 1950s, the wealthy Mykonos becomes a destination for the rich and famous including the likes of Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, Stavros Niarchos, and his wife Eugenia Livanos.

Left: Aristotle Onassis with Maria Kallas Right: Stavros Niarchos with Evgenia Livanou (Aegean sea, on the way to Mykonos circa 1953)

“Onassis and Niarchos” were the founders of the entire post-war Greek shipping industry that has put Greece into its current prominent position on the world map of the industry.
The island’s reputation for being a party hot spot was well-established by that time.  Aristotle and Stavros would visit the island with their superyachts hosting friends and family on various occasions and enjoying their luxurious summer vacations.

Stavros Niarchos “Creole” was designed by Charles E. Nicholson from Camper & Nicholsons. The 208ft, three-masted schooner initially named “Vira”, was commissioned in 1927. She remains the largest wooden sailing yacht in the world to date and is made of 100% teak wood.

It’s no surprise that this island’s cerulean waters, sandy beaches, and 16th-century windmills on a ridge above town have been drawing everyone for decades. The two shipowners were among the first true jet setters whose visits marked the indisputable fate of the cosmopolitan island.

Onassis superyacht originally served as a Canadian anti-submarine River-class frigate called HMCS Stormont, launched in 1943. It served as a convoy escort during the Battle of the Atlantic and was present at the Normandy landings.[6] Onassis purchased the Stormont after the end of World War II, as it was one of the many surplus naval vessels. Purchasing the ship at a scrap value of US$34,000, Onassis like the true pioneer magnate he was, spent an additional US$4 million to convert the vessel into a luxurious superyacht, named after his daughter Christina.

Μany of the 20th century’s most prominent figures were guests aboard the Christina O. 
In addition to Onassis‘ longtime partner, Maria Callas, and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Christina O. has hosted celebrities such as Winston Churchill, the couple Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Carnack, Kelly Tonbey, Gudowfrey, and Rudolf Nure. and John F. Kennedy.

Left Jackie Onassis Kennedy disembarks Christina O. at Mykonos circa 1965. Right: Onassis owned the Greek air carrier Olympic Airways; he built the Mykonos Airport and connected the island with flights since 1971.

John F Kennedy was originally introduced to Winston Churchill on board the Christina O. yacht.
The two magnates and their international network of powerful people and worldwide known celebrities pushed the rumors of the island across the globe.
Onassis would buy land and become one of the first on the island to own a private villa he would spend quality time and enjoy mostly with his close family, while friends and guests would enjoy the luxurious amenities of his private yacht Christina O. 
Mykonos was pinned on the map of the “must visit or never truly lived” destinations for good.
The Fashion icons

French former actress, singer, and model Brigitte Bardot. Famous for portraying sexually emancipated personae with hedonistic lifestyles, she was one of the best-known sex symbols of the late 1950s and 1960s. Phot portrait, Mykonos, 1964.

The next decade continues to find Mykonos trying to resist the mass tourism that threatens it, but it holds strong. Mykonos continues to be a paradise for the elite. The select guests extend to the international range, Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly, Richard Burton, Brigitte Bardot, Maurice Bezar and many others visit the island and are enchanted.

Left: JEAN LOUP SIEFF AND JEAN SHRIMPTON IN MYKONOS, GREECE, OCT 14, 1966 for Vogue. Photography Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation Right: Kirsty Hume in Mykonos Greece for Vogue editorial Dec 1995 with Ellen Von Unwerth

The ’60s were the decade that Mykonos was the island of a special company, texture, and sounds. Fashion found its way to the island and Vogue editorials with top model photoshoots added even more glamour to the island, never felt to be excessive. 
Fashion means celebrities from the international world of art are added to the cosmopolitan “roster” ad the result is a unique blend of the top jet setters. 

Keith Richards and his friends are inspired by famous sculpturist Minas’ artwork, Mykonos.

Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Gianfranco Ferre, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Miller, Jacqueline Bisse, Yoko Ono, Keith Richards, and Madonna… This is the time when Mykonos becomes a popular destination for the LGBT community as well.
Politicians won’t stop visiting the island. It is the mid ’70s and the Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis would often visit, while in Filippis’s restaurant, he would enjoy the nights with his company and composer Nikos Gatsos, and then he would go upstairs from the basement and Manos Hatzidakis would fill the space with music.
The 70 ‘is the peak of a fairytale era for Mykonos. The name of the island enters the Top 10 of the most favorite vacation destinations of the international jet-set. There you would see the heiress of the German industry Krupp accompanied by dozens of muscular lightly dressed men, the “sad” princess Soraya, Liz Taylor, Nureyev, and many others having fun together.

Club Pierros Mykonos 1980 © JAN WILLEMSEN

In the following decades, the island continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
In the 1980s and 1990s, many wealthy businessmen decided to buy land on Mykonos. They built houses in the area and began to invite their friends from all over the world.
As Mykonos grew in popularity, so did the island’s reputation for being a party hot spot. Mykonos had a new reputation.
By the 1980s, she had become a symbol of the new age.
Many Mykonos celebrities would rush into the hot spot of the season, Pierro’s bar, with its famous patrons splurging until dawn …and never sleep.

Super Paradise Beach, 1988 © JAN WILLEMSEN

While still maintaining its reputation for its beautiful beaches, Mykonos had become a destination for the rich and famous, the now known as Mykonos celebrities.
The farmers and fishermen of the island in the evenings left the pickaxes and the nets and opened their bars.
Investment is growing and gaining momentum in the 1990s. Holiday homes, nightclubs, and restaurants are flooding the island.

Chora of Mykonos 1991 © JAN WILLEMSEN

During this period Mykonos became part of the vacation of two American presidents, George W. Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton, making the name of the island even more variegated. As there is money and politics, agreements are made. Business people are attracted to the island and become one with the fashionistas and the party people
The miracle is that the enduring chicness of Mykonos has not destroyed what made everyone fall in love with it in the first place. Little wooden fishing boats painted with evil eyes to ward off misfortune still bob in the harbors, and beachfront tavernas serve the same simple, delicious dishes.
So whether your taste runs to exquisite champaigns coupled with white truffles or a greek cold beer with fresh greek salad and traditional music playing on the radio, it all coexists in harmony to make you happy.
This may be the secret of Mykonos’ cosmopolitan life and how this is lived by its celebrities after all.
The One and Only Authentic Mykonos Celebrity 
You might have noticed there are many photos of Mykonos found in this article and across the internet, featuring Mykonos’ mascot birds, the pelicans.
This is Petros (Peter) the Pelican and his story is as old as the story of Mykonos first celebrities.

Petros with his savior, Thodoris, Mykonos, circa 1953. © James Burke 

Petros was originally found in 1952 by a local fisherman named Thodoris Kirantonis in bad shape, who managed to save his life.

Petros lived for 33 years with the love and affection of all the Mykonians. A true celebrator of life.

Ηe was adopted by the Mykonians and became instantly the one and only true local celebrity of the island.
Somehow Petros has managed to educate the Mykonians on how to treat celebrities like real people.
We will cover this amazing story with a dedicated article on the iconic figure of Petros. 
Petros died on December 2, 1985. 
Since then, his ancestors continue the heritage and are the island’s trademark. 
This article is dedicated to him and all the birds teaching us that being a celebrity is about celebrating life, life is freedom, and freedom is love.

Petros welcomes Mykonos visitors posing on their private airplanes. Circa 1970

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The perfect travel companion for the cosmopolitan traveler.
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