Argentina’s “First Dog?”

There are singers remembered for one song. There are movies and stage shows remembered by one song. And there are historical figures otherwise little known save for one song. Scroll down to see a video clip from a Broadway musical that we think it illustrates our point:










The singer, Patty Lupone, didn’t need Don’t Cry For Me Argentina to be made famous. Figuratively speaking, the number of Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards, and assorted other theatre accolades won by the versatile and incredibly talented actress could fill a room. Of her five most iconic musical roles, however, Lupone is (arguably) most remembered for her portrayal of Evita, in large part because of the song you just saw her sing.

The Broadway play, “Evita,” also educated many people who knew little to nothing about the main character and subject of the show, Eva Perón, aka Evita.

Born in Argentina in 1919, María Eva Duarte was born to parents not married to each other, and whose father, in fact, already had a wife and another family. Her family struggled financially, and when Eva was 15, she traveled to Buenos Aires to pursue an acting career.

Evita in 1948, photo in Public Domain

She eventually got steady work in radio parts, but she also attracted the attention of a rising star of the new government, Juan Perón. They married in 1945, the same year he was ousted by a military coup. After his release from custody, Juan Perón entered the presidential race, and it was during her husband’s campaign that Eva found her true talent. An active campaigner, her speeches resonated particularly among lower economic classes whom she addressed in speeches as los descamisados, or “the shirtless ones,” and though she was never elected into any office, Eva acted as a de facto minister of health and labor, and, some say, a socialist champion of the poor.

There is ample evidence to support Eva’s role in squashing political dissent, controlling what the press reported (read: censorship), and hypocracy. She railed against capitalist wealth, but routinely dressed in pricey designer labels like Christian Dior and had a closet stuffed with thousands of outfits, hundreds of pairs of hats and shoes (including $1,000 sneakers), and a trunk full of jewelry. Portrayed as a champion of women, Eva once said: “We women do not need to think, the General does it for us. We will be implacable and fanatical. We will ask neither capacity nor intelligence. No one here is the owner of the truth, none but Peron, and before supporting a candidate—whatever his hierarchy may be—we will demand a blank check of loyalty to Peron…” Juan Peron, called by some as one of the cruelest tyrants in Argentina’s long history.

Eva died from cervical cancer in 1951, and while she certainly had her detractors who saw her as a megalomaniac, millions of Argentinians saw her as Argentina’s First Lady, and a saint. Before her death, Argentina’s Congress gave Perón the official title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation.” Her state funeral, appropriate for a queen, is said to have been attended by three million people in Buenos Aires.

Eva was a complex lady, and nothing short of a special breed of dog would suit such a charismatic personality.

So of course the Peróns owned Poodles. One of their dogs was, in fact, the progeny of a very famous Toy Poodle, “Masterpiece,” once dubbed the most valuable dog in the world (and the victim of a still-unsolved crime).  There are many photos of Eva and her Poodles, and we lack permission to post any of them, but you can see Eva with a silver Poodle here, and the Perón couple with two Poodles here.

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