Joe Armstrong, publications director at Meigher Communications, was among the few non-family members to visit Mrs. Onassis, 64, on May 19 just hours before her death from cancer.
By the next morning, magazines were scrambling. New York Magazine, for the first time in its history, is running a copyless cover with just her photo and the magazine logo.
stopped the presses for a cover story and eight-page special dedicated to Mrs. Onassis. Time and Newsweek also put her on the cover.
Ever since her arrival at the White House with John F. Kennedy in 1961, Mrs. Onassis has dazzled the world through the eyes of the media.
Les Brown, author of Les Brown's Encyclopedia of Television, said the 1962 prime-time CBS special, "Tour of the White House With Mrs. John F. Kennedy," was a TV first that changed the way the media perceived first ladies.
"Certainly, she was the most attractive first lady. She had the glitz and glamor of the jet setters," Mr. Brown said. "Later, after JFK's death, she became a person in the news in her own right."
Though criticized at times for her expensive tastes, the president's wife emerged as a trend setting fashion icon and her pillbox hat, short stylish hairdo and designer dresses became the rage of the 1960s.
Noted Town & Country Editor in Chief Pamela Fiori: "In the end, she won over everyone. There is a nobility about her that ran very deep."
After the assassination of her husband on Nov. 22, 1963, later followed by the assassination of brother-in-law Robert Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis in 1968.
She shunned publicity and the press. Still, her appearance on magazine covers caused them to fly off newsstands.
In one of her rare interviews in the April 19, 1993, edition of Publishers Weekly, Mrs. Onassis spoke of her career as a book editor, which began at Viking Press in 1975. She moved to Doubleday Publishing Co. as an associate editor in 1978 and became senior editor in 1989.
"I am fascinated by hearing artists talk about their craft," she told the trade magazine. "To me, a wonderful book is one that takes me on a journey into something I did not know before ... I am drawn to books that are out of our regular experience."
Despite decades in the limelight, Mrs. Onassis tried to safeguard her privacy and used her behind-the-scenes influence to squash any books about President Kennedy from being published under the Doubleday imprint.M
Joe Mandese contributed to this story.