As I covered the time before she met Peron in my last post ,I thought I would pick up a little further along and start from Perons time as President .I realise there are incidents during the time before they marry that many consider pivotal but most of the events don’t have reliable historical records and often Evas own words contradict the suppositions of historians and biographers even where it would be in her best interest to let them seem correct .
For these reasons I feel its best to pick up the story once Evas life becomes easy to document.This post is a brief introduction to Evas life as first lady and an examination of her relationship with Peron ,more detailed posts on her work in politics ,charitable work and “rainbow tour “will follow
When Eva left the civil marriage ceremony and later official church ceremony (seen below)
She had now managed the almost impossible ,she had made the huge leap from acknowledged mistress to wife.Whatever the reason for Perons decision to marry herl photographs of the couple suggest that they were very fond of each other ,,non posed photos often show them looking at each other with genuine affection and full eye smiles.
Peron is almost always looking at Eva in informal shots and they always seem genuinely happy ,there are none of the slightly stiff smiles often seen in PR shots of presidents and their wives.
Even towards the end of Evas life,when Peron saw little of Eva many days, photos of Eva during her last appearances show the couple seemingly still very close.
It was during their early years of married life they also acquired the first of their many pets.
Eva seems to have been very fond of her dogs
There are few informal photographs of the couple either at this time or in the years that follow where they don’t have their pets close by.
The photo below is taken on their farm ,though Eva looks slightly nervous of the horse.
Theres even photos Eva having her make up done with her pet dog on her lap
Tragically Eva had also probably signed her death warrant alongside the marriage certificate,Perons first wife had died from cervical cancer ,the cancer that would finally cost Eva her own life and its known that HPV or the male gentile warts virus is a main cause of cervical cancer,Peron probably infected both his first wife and Eva.
Later gossip would claim the cause of Evas cancer was promiscuity but in reality the only bearing promiscuity has on the risk of cervical cancer is that the more partners you have the more likely you are to have slept with one with the virus .As Perons first wife died from the same form of cancer it seems likely he was the carrier who infected Eva.
Peron may have been the only man Eva slept with and is certainly the only one we can be certain she slept with despite rumours and a great deal of muck digging ,there has never been any one willing to speak out and say clearly she was their lover.Nor was there any reason for Eva to have taken a lover to support herself ,evidence suggests she had her major career moves in companies managed by women ,a woman photographer took her photos for magazines,,this includes the famous swim suit photos (see footnotes )
It seems that in the early months of their marriage the Perons enjoyed a happy almost normal ,if somewhat busy married life.
To marry your mistress and that mistress a lower class ex actress was unprecedented gamble.There must have been something remarkable in Eva’s character that made Peron ignore the risks .Its true Eva had used her popularity and media access to promote Perons cause and been very prominent by his side in his campaigning
So she may have proved that the benefits outweighed the negatives.
Eva has been accused of being pushy for her involvement in Perons campaign and been accused of manipulating him,.But Peron was not likely to be so short sighted or easily manipulated .He must have allowed her so much leeway and freedom because he trusted her political sense.He was extremely careful about his career and seems to have been planning his path to power for years,he wouldn’t have gambled it all on Eva if she hadn’t been remarkable.
Evas future life as first lady was going to be very different to all past first lady’s,,that much was clear when Peron encouraged her to represent him at events and invited her not just onto the Balcony of the Casa Rosada
but encouraged her to speak to the crowds both at the Casa Rosada and elsewhere. Even today this would be unusual ,,its unlikely any modern UK prime minister or US president would ask his wife to speak at events while he stood back and listened.For any man at that time it was incredible but even more so for some one in a latin American country.
The people and the crowds may have been at events just for Peron at this time but in the not too distant future they would be there to see Eva and shouts of Peron would become shouts for Evita (little Eva),
Evas seems to have enjoyed these early days, her face usually looks cheerful and her eyes happy and smiling ,she hasn’t yet acquired the earnest slightly drawn look of her later years as first lady or the weary determined look of her final year.
Evas early life as first lady seems to have been a happy though busy time,she had not yet begun the extremely long work hours of her final years when she might,and often did spend upto 18 hours at her office.
She moved into an office in the Central post and telecommunications office and began her first work (Which I will deal with in a later post)
She also bought clothes in large quantities, which has since been criticised but was essential as many first lady’s or newly made princess have discovered.Many modern women have suffered similar criticism ,primeminister and US presidents wives,Princess Diana ,Kate middleton etc .However smart a woman’s clothing its unlikely they will be sufficient or suitableto the role of wife to a president,prime minister or prince .Eva did have attractive clothes but not in the style required and she must have soon realised this.
Eva was criticised for appearing on her first official function in a one shoulder gown ,which once she was seated at table meant she had a clergyman next to her bare shoulder ,,today it would be less than ideal but at that time it was something of a scandal,,most people considered it deliberate but its much more likely it was a mistake,,one shoulder or completely strapless gowns were extremely fashionable. As an actress they would be a must for Eva and she may have not had a wide range of evening clothes to wear that were modest enough yet glamorous .Eva at this point dressed appropriatly when needed but does seem to have loved exuberant outfits and jewels
She also had a fondness for very high heels ,,probably to gain a little height as she wasnt particularly tall .Though after the European tours these also seem to get lower .
Few women will have a wardrobe extensive enough to cope with a new Iife as first ladyat least three changes a day ,private casual wardrobe , work /public visits wardrobe ,,including clothing suitable for meeting religious leaders ,visiting places of worship and both would be needed in larger quantity than anyone is likely to have as there is a daily need.
.Finaliy there is the need for numerous evening gowns ,from the smart for dinner parties to the extremely smart for balls ,opera visits, official banquets etc.
In addition its very likely that Eva and Peron were beginning to consider how to forge links with allies in Europe and may have been planning her tour .Eva a seems to have loved clothes and loved picking the initaly very glamorous wrap style or gathered figure hugging dresses and suits
and elaborate ball gowns ,jewels
bags ,shoes and furs and hats which are usually quite large and worn far back on her head .
,In these early years she appears in a wide range of spectacular outfits in public .
though apparently still preferring trousers and casual shirts for private wear.
At this point she still wore her long thick hair
the elaborate high styles she had worn in her days as an actress
Later as she begins to become more and more involved in politics and her charitable work and more especially after she returns from Europe her hair changes from its bright blond to a more subtle blond .
the style gradually evolved to the classic pulled back styles that is now her trademark.
Eva seems to have decided very early on not to be just the pretty face next to the president that did some charitable work in some of her free hours.Eva wanted to be different.
She wrote in her autobiography
This is a foundational circumstance and is related directly to my decision to be a President’s wife who does not follow the old model. I could have followed those models. I want to make this clear because sometimes people have tried to explain my “incomprehensible sacrifice” by arguing that the salons of the oligarchy would have been closed to me in any case. Nothing is further from the truth nor from common sense. I could have been a President’s wife in the same way that others were. It is a simple and agreeable role: appear on holidays, receive honors, “dress up” and follow protocol which is almost what I did before, and I believe more or less well, in the theater and the cinema. As far as the hostility of the oligarchs goes, I can’t help but smile. And I ask: why would the oligarchs reject me? Because of my humble origins? Because of my career as an actress? But has that class of persons ever taken those reasons into account, here or in any part of the world, when it is the case of the wife of the President? The oligarchy was never hostile to anyone who could be useful. Power and money are never bad advantages for a genuine oligarch… . But I was not just the spouse of the President of the Republic, I was also the wife of the leader of the Argentine people.
“Peron had a double personality and I would need to have one also: I am Eva Peron, the wife of the President, whose work is simple and agreeable … and I am also Evita, the wife of the leader of a people who have deposited in him all
“A few days of the year I represent Eva Perón … “
“Most of the time, however, I am Evita … “
We do not need to speak of Eva Perón. What she does appears profusely in newspapers and magazines everywhere.
their faith and love
Eva as Eva Peron still had strong family bonds and often had family member close to her ,no doubt partially because they could be trusted but also from genuine bonds of affection
It has been suggested Evas work was the result of being “snubbed ” by the “establishment” however its a simplification as Eva says ,she was the wife of the president ,some form of social acceptance would have to be forthcoming and she had Perons backing and support.
Eva had shown even as an actress that she had a “social conscience” and now seems to have seen an opportunity to do something to help the poor.It also seems that Peron had been training Eva to be his second in command ,In his biography he claims he choose and educated her to be his second in command ,someone he could trust absolutely to act in his best interest and make decisions that would help him and forward his agenda.Eva seems to have been utterly devoted to Peron and have gladly taken on the alloted role as unofficial “vice president” a role she never achieved officially and which at this time was probably not even suspected by Perons other advisors but which was slowly but surely being claimed for her.Eva immediatly began showing herself working.
and tried to combat her lightweight “actress” image
and throughout her heavy involvement in politics she made a point of showing herself as still a “traditional “wife.
She was mocked at first for trying to appear in a more serious light but eventually time would show she was a consummate professional at moulding her image.
With regard to Evas early time in Buenos Aires and the allegations that she “slept her way to the top”I think this is merely the result of prejudices about actresses and a misunderstanding of the role of women in the arts at this time Women were very prominent owners and managers of theatre companies.Women photographers, sculptures,writers and painters
.But her well documented career path doesnt give any reason why she might have needed to. sleep with a man to get a job ,eat ,have somewhere to stay .Her first job was in a theatre company owned and run by a woman ,Eva France,then a further stint with a company owned by Pepita Munoz ,she went on tour with the female owned companies ,then had several short term jobs in theatre company’s owned by men but worked in between those in more female owned theatre companies ,there is never a series of years under the control of male company owners and as she returned to previous womens companies from time to time it suggests she had contacts in that circle .There was a well known woman photographer Annemarie Heinrich who was not only an artitst ,but was working with magazines .i was she who took the well know swim suit photos of Eva .By the time she is being empoloyed by men in movies etc she already had a well paid secure five year contract with a radio company and she was well known.
For details on Anne Marie Heinrich including the swimsuit photo of Eva please check the wiki entry
I am indebted to the following sites for several rare images