Actor, politician, former first lady of Argentina. Born Maria Eva Duarte on May 7, 1919, in Los Toldos, Argentina. Growing up in small towns with little money, Perón dreamed of becoming actress. She moved to Buenos Aires in 1930s and had some success as a performer.
Her life changed dramatically when she married Juan Perón, a colonel and government official, in 1945. He became president of Argentina the following year and she was a powerful political influence on him. She used her position as first lady to fight for causes she believed in, such as women’s suffrage and improving the lives of the poor. She also ran the ministries of health and labor in her husband’s government.
Eva Duarte de Perón became a legendary figure in Argentine politics. A skilled speaker, she was adored by the poor she worked hard to help, but she was not without critics and detractors. She tried to run for vice president with her husband in 1951, but she was opposed by the army. She died of cancer in Buenos Aires on July 26, 1952. Since her death, her life continues to fascinate people around the world and was the basis for the successful musical Evita (1979).