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Eva "Evita" Perón: 1919–1952: Political Leader Biography

Worked As An Actress, Became Political Leader, Death Moved A Nation

Eva "Evita" Perón: 1919–1952: Political leader.

Of all the figures of twentieth-century history, few have inspired as many passionate debates as the life and myth of Eva Perón. From her origins as an illegitimate girl in the Argentine provinces, she pursued a career as a film and radio actress in Buenos Aires before meeting, and subsequently marrying, the man who would make her the First Lady of Argentina, Juan Domingo Perón. Although she held no official government role during Perón's terms in office, Eva Perón became one of the most powerful political figures in the country and an influential ambassador for Argentina throughout the world. After her tragic, early death from cancer at the age of thirty-three, the woman whom millions called "Evita" had already made a lasting impact on her homeland. Few could have foreseen that a half-century later, her life would continue to inspire, provoke, and challenge those who live in the shadow of her memory.

Although she later claimed a birth date of 1922 under the name Eva Duarte, María Eva Ibarguren was actually born on May 7, 1919 near the provincial town of Los Toldos, Argentina, about one-hundred fifty miles west of the nation's capital, Buenos Aires. She was the last of five children born to Juana Ibarguren and Juan Duarte. Duarte, who worked as an agricultural estate manager near Los Toldos, kept his wife and three other children in a nearby town and never formalized his relationship with Ibarguren, who insisted on using the surname Duarte for herself and her children. In 1920 Juan Duarte returned to live with his wife. Juana Ibarguren Duarte, now in desperate financial straits, moved into a modest home in Los Toldos where she supported her family as a seamstress. When Juan Duarte died in a car accident in 1926, his "second family" was barred from the cemetery. It was a humiliation that young Eva Duarte would remember for the rest of her life.

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