María Eva Duarte de Perón (7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952) was the second wife of Argentine President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952.
She is usually referred to as Eva Perón.
Born in the village of Los Toldos in The Pampas, rural Argentina in 1919, the youngest of five children.
At age 15 in 1934, she moved to the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires to pursue a career as a stage, radio, and film actress.
She met Colonel Juan Perón there on the 22nd of January 1944 during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina.
Eva Perón spent her childhood in Junín, Buenos Aires province.
Her parents, Juan Duarte and Juana Ibarguren (sometimes referred to as Doña Juana), were descended from Basque immigrants.
Juan Duarte was a wealthy rancher from nearby Chivilcoy, where he already had a wife and family.
During this time period in rural Argentina, it was not uncommon to see a wealthy male with multiple families.
However, the lack of legitimacy for Juana and her children would still leave them stigmatized and rejected. Referred to as “bastards”, the family was somewhat isolated.
When Duarte suddenly passed away, and his mistress and their children made an attempt to attend his funeral, a small scandal erupted at the church gates.
Though Juana and the children were permitted to pay respects to Duarte, they were promptly directed outside afterward.
Mrs. Juan Duarte did not want her husband’s mistress and children at the funeral, and as his legitimate wife, her orders were respected.
Eva’s father, Juan Duarte, had two families: one with his legal wife, Adela D’Huart, and another with his mistress. María Eva was the fifth child born to the mistress, Juana Ibarguren.
Duarte did not hide the fact that he had two families and divided his time between them more or less equally for a time, although he eventually abandoned his mistress and their children, leaving them with nothing more than a paper formally recognizing the children as his.
He died in a car accident when Evita was only six years old, and the illegitimate family, blocked out of any inheritance by the legitimate one, fell on hard times.
Her first part was in a play called The Perez Mistresses in 1935: Evita was only sixteen.
She landed small roles in low-budget movies, performing well if not memorably.
Later she found stable work in the booming business of radio drama.
She gave each part her all and became popular among radio listeners for her enthusiasm.
She worked for Radio Belgrano and specialized in dramatizations of historical figures.
She was particularly known for her voice portrayal of Polish Countess Maria Walewska (1786-1817), mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Her appearances in the movies were less frequent.
She was in “La Carga de los Valientes,” “El más infeliz del pueblo” and “Una novia en apuros.” She had to wait until 1944 to have a more important role in “La Cabalgata del Circo.”
If life is a continual choice and we continue to evolve until the hour of our death, then on July 26, 1952, Evita, the child born thirty-three years ago in a small Argentine town, had reached the end of her journey: she had become forever Evita.