| Margot Fonteyn|
Birthday: 18 May 1919
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Peggy Hookham was always destined to be a dancer. Her
Brazilian/Irish mother groomed her for stardom from almost as soon
as she could walk. When she was aged 8 her father's work took the
family to Shanghai. Peggy and her Mother returned to the UK when
she was 14. Her father stayed in Shanghai and was interned by the
Japanese for the duration of the war. Young Peggy was enrolled with
the Royal Ballet School just when they were looking for a young
British dancer to groom as the new Prima Ballerina. Until then all
leading dancers in Britain had been Russian or French. Part of the
grooming process was to change her name to 'Margot Fonteyn' (qv).
She soon showed the natural talents and dedication required of a
Prima Ballerina and after many wonderful perfomances at Sadler's
Wells she went with the Royal Ballet on their 1949 American tour.
Her performance as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty on their
opening night in NYC wowed the critics and fans alike. Her
performance set a new standard for the role. Success followed
success and she was soon to become the most famous and most
successful ballerina in the world. But one thing eluded her. She
fell in love with composer / conductor 'Constant Lambert' (qv) but
he decided in favour of another. She then fell for playboy Roberto
"Tito" Arias. He was a Panamanian delegate to the U.N. and the son
of a powerful Panamanian family that had fallen out of political
favour. Despite his reputation the couple were married at the
Panamanian Consulate in Paris in February 1955. Whilst Margot
continued her successful career, she was made a Dame of the Order
of the British Empire in 1956, Tito planned an armed invasion of
Panama City to try to win back some of the power he felt was
rightfully his. Margot joined him but the invasion was a total
failure. In 1962 Margot was thinking of retirement (she was 43)
from ballet when she met 'Rudolph Nureyev' who had fled from the
Soviet Union to Britain. Young rudi revitalised Margot and led to
some of her most wonderful performances. In 1964, just when Magot
was thinking about divorcing him, Tito was shot five times and from
then he was paralysed from the neck down. Margot flew to his side
and from then on was his nurse as well as the wife he had never let
her be before. Although she knew how he had had many affairs she
dedicated the rest of her life to him. It was mainly because of the
money she needed to care for Tito that she kept dancing long after
most dancers would have retired. She attracted some bad publicity
by performing in apartheid South Africa and in the Chile run by the
military dictators. She made her last appearance in public in May
1979 (aged 60) and retired to Panama where she and Tito ran a
cattle stud. When Tito died in 1989 Margot discovered that he had
mortgaged their farm and she had to aution all her jewelry to pay
for her own medical care for the newly discovered cancer. Dame
Margot died on February 21st 1991. She was buried in the Arias
family plot in Panama beside her Tito.
Biography courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com).
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Margot Fonteyn Story, The (1991)
Tales of Helpmann, The (1990)
Celebration: The History of the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet (1981)
Magic of Dance (1980)
I Am a Dancer (1972)
Romeo and Juliet (1966)
[ Olivia Hussey ] [ Claire Bloom ] [ Nina Hartley ]
Evening with the Royal Ballet, An (1963)
Royal Ballet, The (1960)
Nutcracker, The (Made for TV) (1958)
Little Ballerina, The (1951)
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