• Wed, Sep 19 2012

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

The rest of the musical isn’t totally off base, though. (Not that it was deliberately misleading in the “Che” regard. I guess it would be a bit like if you inserted a man named “Jack” into a musical about Queen Victoria and everyone just assumed it was “Jack the Ripper.” Not that freedom fighters are prostitute-killers but . . . I’ll just step away from this one).

Certainly Eva did, as the musical says “have every disadvantage you need if you’re gonna succeed.”

She was born on May 7, 1919, to Juana Ibarguren in a small backwater town in Argentina and named Eva. Her mother – at the age of fifteen – became the mistress of a man named Juan Duarte. She bore him five children.  For a while, she profited by it – unlike many of their neighbors, Juana and her children lived in a comfortable two room house. Not for long, though. When Eva was one year old, Juan abandoned them and moved away. The family was suddenly forced to deal with crushing poverty. All he left was a document declaring the children were his, thus enabling them to use his name.

Although Juan had another legitimate family, and completely abandoned them, Eva went by Eva Duarte. He died in a car accident when Eva was 7, and the family was blocked out of any inheritance, which meant they fell on even harder times. I don’t want to skim over that, but, yeah, he seemed like a jerk so we’re going to skim right over that after all.

Eva’s mother was a seamstress and a cook who was said to have prostituted herself to keep the children alive. You know all those politicians at the RNC who wanted to say they grew up in a shack? Eva literally grew up in a two room shack.

In this regard, Eva’s upbringing reminds me a lot of that other figure of national importance, Jeanne du Barry.

That said, while she was certainly beautiful in the manner of Du Barry, I’m inclined to think she was a lot smarter and had a far better aptitude for survival.

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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.