• Wed, Sep 19 2012

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

In any event, she became a sensational success. And, while she did have an active pre-marital sex life (yes – she spent some time on casting couches) she doesn’t seem to have slept her way to the top quite as described here:

In 1945 in an interview with Radiolandia she said, “I am not an adventuress, although some (those who never forgive a young woman for succeeding) make me out to be one. I have spent more than five years dedicated to what is in me a firmly-rooted vocation: the arts. These have been five years of troubles, of noble struggles when I’ve known the uncertainty of adversity as well as the gratification of success.”

Well, it does sound as though she protested a bit much. Regardless, adventuress is a very good word. Try to use it in a conversation today and see how that goes over.

Despite her appearance in a wide variety of films, it’s a bit tricky to tell how good an actress Eva actually was. Many of the movies Eva appeared in no longer exist, as Evita wanted the record of this portion of her life destroyed after she became First Lady of Argentina. Here’s a pretty great picture of her on the cover of a fan magazine, though:

In 1944 Eva first met Juan Peron. He was 48 (nearly twice her age) and had been recently made both Secretary of Labor and Secretary of War after a military coup. The two met at an artistic festival Peron had organized to support the victims of a recent earthquake. They apparently went home together, despite the fact that Eva was attending it with a friend. Eva forever afterwards referred to this as “my marvelous day.”

At the time, Peron had a mistress – a girl younger than 24 year old Eva – whom he generally introduced as his daughter. Eva took care of this complication by taking all her belongings to Peron’s house, and telling the girl there would be no more room for her.

Most women at the time would have stayed out of politics, but Eva was fascinated. Juan allowed her to sit in on his council meetings with advisors, and Eva did so with great enthusiasm. That said, she never disagreed with Peron despite the fact that he was almost definitely a Nazi sympathizer and a big supporter of Mussolini.

In fact, Eva seemed in almost worshipful awe of him. Perhaps that’s because he was much older, or perhaps it was because in Argentina at the time politicians were seen as an entirely different, higher class of people than entertainers.

Unsurprisingly, when broadcast performers were told they had to organize into a union, Eva was made its president. She then began a daily program called “Towards A Better Future” which consisted solely of her detailing Juan Peron’s accomplishments. This sounds like the dullest program in the world. Her fellower entertainers didn’t like it, but the people loved it. They loved her. I guess she was as great at reciting things as she had hoped to be as a child.

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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.