Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Montez, Lola

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MONTEZ, Lola, adventuress, b. probably in Limerick, Ireland, in 1824; d. in Astoria, L. I., 30 June, 1861. Her mother was a Creole, and there are conflicting statements as to her birth and parentage. Her maiden name was Maria Dolores Porris Gilbert. She was brought up in England, educated in Bath, and at the age of fifteen married a Capt. James, of the British army. Later she went with her husband to Hindostan, but soon parted from him to return to England. In 1840 Lola Montez suddenly appeared as a Spanish dancer in Paris, and attracted attention by her beauty and eccentricities. After numerous adventures in the French capital, she found her way to Munich as a Spanish performer in ballet and pantomime. King Louis soon became fascinated by her person and manners, and bestowed on her many distinctions. In 1846 Lola was made Countess of Landsfeldt. Her influence with the monarch at last became so aggravating to the ministry and offensive to the people as to cause several popular outbreaks, which in 1848 brought on a governmental crisis that resulted in the king's abdication and Lola's expulsion from Bavaria. The countess then retired to England and married a British officer named Heald, whereupon she was prosecuted for bigamy by her first husband, and fled to Spain. In 1851 she sailed in the same ship with Louis Kossuth, and landed in New York city. Here she performed in several dramas that set forth her European experiences, appearing first at the Broadway theatre on 29 Dec., 1851. She repeated these entertainments in Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. In 1855 she sailed for Australia, and after an absence of about a year returned to the United States, delivered lectures on “Woman, Love, and Spiritualism,” and went to England to repeat the series. But her literary novelties were not appreciated, and she returned to this country, discouraged and without occupation. Not long afterward she suffered from partial paralysis, and closed her eventful career in a sanitary asylum. She was a brunette of the Spanish type, with dark-blue eyes and long lashes. To her personal charms she added an arch and vivacious manner, and fluent conversation in four languages. Her publications include “Anecdotes of Love” (New York); “Lectures,” autobiographical (1858); and “The Arts of Beauty.” See “The Story of a Penitent” (New York, 1867).