By Stacy Jenel Smith
The planned Paris Hilton
-Paris Latsis union is so much more than just the latest chapter in the Paris Hilton show we've all been watching for the past few years. It's so much more than her $5 million, 24-carat diamond engagement ring. The joining together of two of the world's wealthiest families - each of which comes complete with scandalous characters, intrigue and fame - is such a delicious concept, it sounds like something concocted by Aaron Spelling or Darren Star, but it's true!
First, let's talk money. You may have heard by now that Miss Paris' family is reportedly worth about $775 million -- while, according to Forbes, Mr. Paris' family fortune is valued at $7.5 billion, making the Latsis clan 54th among the magazine's list of richest people on earth. The Hiltons ranked a mere 620th. Besides shipping, the Latsis empire encompasses oil refining, banking, real estate and?hotels.
The two Parises will float around the Mediterranean this summer on the family's 184-foot super yacht, the Paris (yes, it is a Paris world) this summer - a vessel that boasts two decks, a formal dining room, a Jacuzzi and a staff of 11. The family's 400-foot super duper yacht, the Alexander, was used by Charles and Camilla for their honeymoon, and President Bush when he visited the Athens Olympics.
Our girl is marrying up.
As far as personal style, Mr. Paris has been said to shun the limelight, to dress down in cutoffs and such, and to prefer hanging out at home to clubbing. Someone is going to have some compromising to do!
He's been called a "beach boy," a "boy's boy" and a playboy, who is into physical things like riding motorcycles, going for runs on the beach, tooling around in his pickup truck and, well, indoor sports, if you get my drift. We can now add complaints by neighboring vacationers about extremely noisy all-night lovemaking by Paris and Paris during their recent stay in Aruba to the list of Miss Paris' widely-known - and seen - sexual exploits. Such lusty goings-on are typical of Mr. Paris as well. A tabloid report has it that he managed a nightclub funded by his mother while he was studying in London in order to get girls, which is a pretty remarkable claim - because it's one of the few references anyone has made lately to Mr. Paris actually working or studying.
He did have bleachy blond beach boy hair, but recently returned to his natural darker locks. He also got rid of the Z tattoo on his wrist at Miss Paris's urging. It was a remnant of his two-year relationship with Greek actress and socialite Zeta Graff, who is apparently quite a piece of work in her own right and now dating Val Kilmer. The Paris-Zeta romance got lots of attention because she was still married to her ex, a diamond heir, during part of it.
The Latsis family patriarch is Mr. Paris' uncle Spiro. Who will we cast for that part? He took over the businesses after grandfather John Latsis - founder of the fortune - passed away in 2003. Spiro never did the playboy heir number. Instead he earned a PhD at the London School of Economics and got busy growing the empire. That left sister Marianna Latsis - a.k.a. Mr. Paris' mother - to outrage dad and scandalize Greek society by marrying a hunky water skiing instructor with no money. That would be Grigoris Kasidokostas, a.k.a. Paris' father.
While the marriage lasted, they were shunned by the Athens elite. "He was far too vulgar," Greek jet-setter and gossip columnist Taki Theodoracopulos explained to the New York Post.
Now divorced, Katsidokostas' other claims to fame include serving as mayor of the town of Vouliagmeni and running a water-ski school. He likes Miss Paris, thinks she's very pretty and is delighted with his son's happiness. As for her announcement that she wants to have babies within a couple of years, Katsidokostas sounded a cautionary note when he talked to People magazine: "It would be better to think about it seriously before he starts a family, because having a family is a very serious matter, especially in Greece."
He didn't comment, however, on Mr. Paris' decision to go by the name Latsis rather than Katsidokostas - but then again, what is there to say?
A great part for an actress of a certain age would be that of Marianna Latsis, who has become a major philanthropist - she donated funds for Greek earthquake relief and the Athens Olympics - and a society figure. She's pretty, too. In fact, she and Kathy Hilton will make quite a spectacular set of mothers of the groom and bride when their respective Parises tie the knot.
In Miss Paris' case, the money comes from father Rick Hilton's side; it was great-grandfather Conrad Hilton who founded the fortune. Miss Paris' Mom Kathy, nee Kathy Richards, is the former actress-turned-reality show hostess. The family has been touched by show business glamour for generations, of course. Conrad's second wife was Zsa Zsa Gabor, who famously told the media that the hotel magnate "was very generous to me in the divorce settlement. He gave me 5,000 Gideon Bibles." A couple of generations ago, it was Miss Paris' Great Uncle Nicholas Conrad "Nicky" Hilton getting all the attention in the gossip columns as the first husband of Elizabeth Taylor.
You have to wonder, if Greek society found a water skiing instructor vulgar, how are they going to react to the traveling circus of celebrity that is Paris Hilton, with her reality show, her sex tapes, her omnipresent photographs, her party crowd?