At 8:25pm on the 26th day of July in 1952, all of Argentina clutched their chests in shock. They had just been told by President Juan Peron that their beloved and revered Evita had passed away. While the masses wept in her memory a select few mourned her death with celebratory toasts of champagne. Nevertheless, the Argentine streets were lined with mourners and flowers from the moment her death was announced until her funeral on August 11th. Eva defied stereotypes and her memory is forever embedded in the foundations of Latin American social reform. Transcending her life was her myth and transcending her myth was her love of her husband, Argentine President Juan Peron and of the Argentine people and their ever-present struggle for social justice and economic reform. Biography
Born on May 7, 1919, in the small town of Los Todos, Argentina, to Juana Ibaguren and Juan Duarte, Maria Eva Duarte was the youngest of five children. Juan was a notable but controversial political leader and very influential in their city. He was also married to Adela d'Huart with whom he had several children. Eva and her siblings were stigmatized by their parents' relationship from birth and even more so after Juan's death in 1926. From that moment on, the family's survival became a daily struggle (Duarte 20). After attending primary and grade school up to sixth grade, Eva developed a passion for poetry and a desire and talent for reciting it. By her teens, she was ready to make a name for herself as an actress. "Even as a little girl I wanted to recite. It was as though I wished to say something to others, something important which I felt in my deepest heart" (Peron 21). By this time, the Duarte children and their mother were living in Junin and Eva busied herself by nurturing her talent at the local cinema and attending radio auditions. By age fifteen and after much feuding with her mother over her ambitions, Eva headed off to Buenos Aires to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, away from the stigma of being the illegitimate daughter of a controversial politician and a poor seamstress. She packed up her dreams and a few personal things and tucked them into a suitcase. Much of what she packed would be discarded or lost over time, but "the impact of the discovery that there are poor and rich in the world and the emotional indignation felt when faced with injustice" she would always keep ("The Official Eva Peron Website").
From 1935 to 1937, Eva Duarte took on minor roles in various stage plays. She was seldom the lead and rarely gained notoriety, but she was always happy to be pursuing her passion. Critic Augusto Gulbourg stated, "Eva Duarte was very good in her small part" [critica, march 29, 1935] ("The Official Eva Peron Website"). In August of 1937, Eva was simultaneously offered a part on the big screen and in a radio theater drama, both of which she accepted. She was never considered an exceptionally talented actress, but her charisma and knack for inserting herself into the right circles using her personality and feminine wiles took her very far in her career. Eva continued to work in both film and radio concurrently until she landed the opportunity for a radio show entitled "The Biographies of Illustrious Women." The program ran from 1943 until 1945 when she though it best to retire after settling into the relationship that helped shift her acting career into overdrive and also convince her to move on to greater efforts ("The Official Eva Peron Website").
On January 15, 1944, Argentina was hit with its most devastating earthquake to date, in which nearly eight thousand people were killed ("Argentina Rattled by Two Earthquakes"). A benefit was organized to help raise money to help the victims of the quake, and the most popular stars were invited to take part. It was here that Eva Duarte and Juan Peron met. Juan Peron was a prestigious military leader who was named director of...