Stalin, black orchids, and Eva Peron

Lorena writes to ask:

You seem to know a lot about hoaxes so....I am doing some
research, and I was asked if the story about Stalin sending black orchids
to Eva Peron's funeral are a hoax. Problem is, I can't even find stories
about it at all. Have you ever heard this?

I'm flattered Lorena thinks I might be knowledgeable enough to have the answer to this, but unfortunately I've never heard the story before and can't find any references to it. In a July 28, 1952 Associated Press article, "Mile-Long Lines View Remains," I found a reference to the flower arrangements at Peron's funeral:

The blonde wife of President Juan D. Peron lay in state in the hall of the labor ministry, in a glass-topped casket of mahogany, draped in white orchids, awaiting a full military funeral tomorrow afternoon. Tons of lilies, roses and carnations packed the hall and overflowed into the streets outside. Crowds of somberly dressed sober-faced mourners were first admitted to the improvised chapel Sunday afternoon and continued in an endless procession throughout the night and morning.

No mention of black orchids or Stalin.

A recent article in the journal International Affairs ["Stalin Meets the Argentine Ambassador," 3(52), 2006, 175-181], discusses a 1953 meeting between Stalin and Leopoldo Bravo, the Argentine ambassador in Moscow. During the course of their conversation Stalin apparently mentioned his interest in Eva Peron:

Other issues were also discussed during the conversation. Stalin was particularly interested in why Peron's wife—Eva Peron—was so popular, was it her personality, or the fact that she was the president's wife. Not an easy question to answer, particularly since Eva had died six months before. The ambassador's reply implied that she was popular for both reasons.

But again, no mention of Stalin having sent black orchids to her funeral.

I should also point out that while there are plants commonly referred to as "black orchids," they're not actually black. They're a dark maroon or brown. There is no such thing as an orchid that is truly black. The Auckland Museum is currently hosting an exhibit, Wonderland: The Mystery of the Orchid. According to them:

A few species of orchids have acquired the name "Black Orchid" by virtue of their very dark intense colour, while not black, which tends to the dark brown and maroon.
One of these is the Australian native orchid, Cymbidium canaliculatum var. sparkesii, a form of C. canaliculatum that has rich intense dark maroon flowers, with a touch of white and dark purple on the labellum. A species of the drier open eucalyptus forest, it grows high in the trees from hollow branches and crevices. The spikes are produced in numbers and bear many deep maroon flowers which are fragrant.
The original "black orchid", Trichoglottis brachiata (or T. philippinensiis var. brachiata), an erect monopodial species that likes to climb, is an entirely different type of orchid from the perching Cymbidium. T. brachiata is native to Borneo, Philippines and Sumatra and the many flowers are produced at the nodes along the stem. Each flower is up to 5 cm across, a rich velvety dark maroon, the lip prominently marked purple. The flowers are fragrant and long lived.

Politics Science

Posted on Wed Oct 21, 2009


i am argentinian, never heard of this, but will ask and get back to you guys in acouple of days, (i have a connection in buenos aires that may help)...the only urban leyend that i recall about peron's or evita's death (can't remember which) is about a hand being stolen to use as fingerprint proof in a swiss bank...give me three days.
Posted by mario  on  Wed Oct 21, 2009  at  12:13 PM
And, of course, Evita's embalmed body was stolen, and remained missing for 16 years.
Posted by Nona  on  Thu Oct 22, 2009  at  05:45 AM
FOR now, try this site....

great reference, there are two promising books there.
Posted by mario  on  Thu Oct 22, 2009  at  11:53 AM
OK. the best info i was given claims Urban Legend as follows: the emperor of japan sent black orchids in a plane that when flying over Buenos Aires allowed the flowers to fall; forming a black cloud over the skies of Argentina...the lady that gave the info was head of protocol for Menem's (Peronist party) two terms (retired, has worked for other governments)...found a great site : Per
Posted by mario  on  Tue Oct 27, 2009  at  03:03 PM
I should add that the site mentions all types of flowers including orchids (no color mentioned) being thrown from the balconies as her body was being taken through the streets, nothing else.
Posted by mario  on  Tue Oct 27, 2009  at  03:06 PM
Here's a link to a video of Eva Peron's funeral... It looks like the entire world sent flowers. I don't know about black orchids, perhaps at 4:52? Maybe someone can find Joe Stalin in the crowd.
Posted by Canadarm  on  Tue Oct 27, 2009  at  03:29 PM
Sounds like someone is using a Nero Wolfe story to start an urban legend.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Tue Oct 27, 2009  at  06:13 PM
Who's Stalin?
Posted by typical american  on  Wed Nov 04, 2009  at  08:45 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.