(ARGENTINA – continued)

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Eva meets Juan

Eva Duarte was the fifth child of a union between a landowner, Juan Duarte, and his cook, Juana Ibarguren. The mother was eventually driven from the Duarte household, and she supported herself by sewing, with Eva watching her mother's struggle and learning about humiliation. In the early thirties, when Eva was entering adolescence, she enjoyed going to the movies. She read about stars in movie magazines, and she decided she wanted to be an actress. At fourteen, she took a role in a school play. She was aggressive and occasionally, in front of a microphone, recited her poems. At sixteen, she moved to the capital, Buenos Aires, where she surrendered to the common corruption of getting parts by sleeping with those who had the power to find roles for actors. She worked her way through bit movie parts and by 1939 had a starring role in a radio soap-opera.

In Argentina in these times, actresses were regarded as little better than prostitutes, but they took part in the glitter and glamour of high society life in the capital. Between October 1943 and January 1944, while enjoying the status of celebrity and mixing with members of the new military regime, Eva met Juan Perón. She was twenty-four and he forty-eight. Perón was a widower, his first wife having died of cancer. Eva became Perón's mistress and began living with him.

She was now a blonde, and she benefited from paid advice on manners and how to dress. And soon she was a frequent voice on Argentina's three major radio stations, including the government supported program titled Toward a Better Future, which glorified the new military regime.


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