Shelved Dolls: Eva “Evita” Peron – OH MY GOD THEY CUT OUT HER BRAIN

First of all, I want to talk about whether or not Eva Peron, first lady of Argentina, was actually friends with freedom fighter Che Guevera, because, you know, she spends the entire musical dancing around a young revolutionary named “Che”. They waltz. They waltz the hell out of a waltz:

And people say Madonna can’t act. I don’t know. Possibly she can’t. A lot of her “acting” in this scene seems to be throwing her arms up like goalposts. But she is good at staring longingly and lustfully at Antonio Banderas, so that’s enough for me.

When I mentioned I was thinking of Eva Peron as a Shelved Doll, my mother immediately exclaimed, “Friends with Che Guevera!” Meanwhile I thought, “Perhaps they were lovers! Lovers who loved waltzing!”

No. She wasn’t, and they weren’t. Turns out that was a thematic device used by Andrew Lloyd Webber because he wanted to juxtapose Eva’s policies with the goals of South American freedom fighters. Additionally – fun fact – in Argentina the word “Che”, according to the Spanish Royal Academy dictionary, is a familiar form used “to call someone or ask for attention”.

The closest the real Ernesto “Che” Guevara ever came to meeting Evita is touched upon in Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life which says:

“One friend recalled Ernesto advising his mates to vote for Peron because his policies favored their class. He also used the Peronist system to his own advantage when it behooved him. [His cousin Mario recalls] Ernesto joined a Peronist youth organization on campus in order to use its extensive library facilities and check out books otherwise unavailable to him. Another time, on the suggestion, half in jest, of Tatiana Quiroga, before an ambitious trip through Latin America he drafted a letter to Peron and his gift giving wife, Evita, asking her for a jeep. Tatiana recalled helping him and said they had fun writing it, but no reply ever came from Argentina’s flamboyant first lady.”

No waltzing?

No waltzing.

However, it may still have been appropriate to pair them symbolically, because, as Tomás Eloy Martínez stated:

“Latin American myths are more resistant than they seem to be. Not even the mass exodus of the Cuban raft people or the rapid decomposition and isolation of Fidel Castro‘s regime have eroded the triumphal myth of Che Guevara, which remains alive in the dreams of thousands of young people in Latin America, Africa and Europe. Che as well as Evita symbolize certain naive, but effective, beliefs: the hope for a better world; a life sacrificed on the altar of the disinherited, the humiliated, the poor of the earth. They are myths which somehow reproduce the image of Christ.”

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    • BeccaTheCyborg

      I really didn’t know a lot about her besides the um, fascism part. The lobotomy! Holy shit.

      Seeing as you don’t seem to mind controversy, any chances of there ever being a Shelved Dolls on the Mitford Sisters?

      • BeccaTheCyborg

        Okay, maybe just the super-famous Mitford sisters? I’m mostly thinking when Jessica and Diana divided their shared bedroom wacky sitcom-style and put up respectively posters of Marx and Hitler. Because seriously.

    • Mallory Archer

      This article was fascinating! Growing up with a gay father who made me watch Evita all the time and made me listen to the soundtrack, I had no idea that Evita was actually a real person who had issues, made her way to the top and paved the way for female politicians in Argentina. The lobotomy part was a huge plus.

      Jennifer, I love your “Shelved dolls” articles, they literally are the best.

      You should totally do one on Eva Braun or something.

      • Ali

        Yes! Do Eva Braun! Also, this article was fantastic.

      • Jennifer Wright

        YES EVA BRAUN! I want to do the Mitford Sisters, too, but there are a lot of them, and it’s hard to know where to start.

    • Lana Kane

      Jennifer, please do one on Eva Braun and have you done one yet on Isabel of Castille? She had a pretty screwed up life and then you can talk about how she burnt hundreds of jews or made them convert!

      • Guest.

        I actually like Isabelle. Compared to others, she was pretty innocent.

    • Hannah

      Can you do a non white person next time?

      • Cristal

        Sarah Forbes Bonetta would be a good story.

    • Mints22

      It’s kind of annoying that everyone refers to her as a fascist. Fascism is, by definition, right-wing. Peronismo was leftist! “Totalitarian” is fair, but totalitarian is not the same as fascism. Sorry, </end political science nerd rant.

      • Naomi

        THANK you.

    • MR

      Nice write up. The rise of organized labor, Argentina’s version – she fit right into Peron’s populist political face.

    • Alle C

      That makes me feel cold all over. I had cervical cancer when I was 24, and my treatment was so non-invasive that I didn’t have to spend a single night in hospital. And yet, not but sixty year ago, women were fucking lobotomised. It makes me straight up appreciate how lucky I am to live in the time we live in, because but for the tick of the clock, there go I.

      • Emma

        Eva Peron also had unusual circumstances around her cancer, even for the time. Firstly, she didn’t know she had cancer, and was constantly informed that her symptoms were from all sorts of different things. Because of this, she put of any treatment and therefore allowed the cancer to completely ravage her body until it was too late. The lobotomy was because poor Eva was in severe, severe pain in the last few months of her life. Her last public appearance, she was held up by a large metal contraption hidden by a fur coat as she was too weak to stand, and by the end of the night she was visibly shaking in agony.

    • len132

      Can you do Eleanor of Aquitaine? Please please please?!?!?

      • MR

        Yeah what a feminine character – Kate Hepburn’s take on her in ‘Lion in the Winter’. Plantagenet – the Normans.

      • frenchhousewife

        yes yes please pretty please Eleanor of Aquitaine! I was in Chinon this summer and had some vague ideas about things she accomplished, but I think reading it here would be so much better!

    • Edward Serow

      As I read through these articles and following comments my thoughts take me back to the six years of actually knowing the Senora.Some opinions presented here contain some reality but none of the offerings tell it like it really was.Like the lady herself, the complex 33 short years of her life will never be known completely.My comment is short and as they say, sweet.It was the greatest six years of my life.She was/is very special. Viva Evita

    • GreerLovesGovert

      Great write up, Jennifer. You’re a very entertaining writer. Now I’m going to have to watch “Evita”.

    • Randi Newton

      WOW! I thought I knew everything about Evita…not the the lobotomy though, hardcore! No idea. I do know that one of her embalmed fingers broke off since her body was in-transit so much.
      Did you ever see that made for tv movie about Evita starring Faye Dunnaway in the late 80′s. Good times!

    • Naomi

      Can we have one on Ching Shih? She was one of the most bad-ass pirates in history.

      Ninon de l’Enclos? Juliette Récamier?

    • Heather H

      Jennifer, you really need a link to all of the Shelved Doll posts, maybe as one of the header options or a sidebar? Clicking on the tag doesn’t bring them all up.