Where Are They Now? Romanian Mistress Magda Lupescu

About the Romanian mistress and jetsetter Magda Lupescu, history and biography of the woman.

Headline--1938: MAGDA LUPESCU

At the Peak: 1938. She was the mistress of the mountebank King Carol II of Romania who had just declared himself not merely a monarch but a dictator. Magda did much of his hatchet work, seeing to the bloody purges of Hitler's pistol-happy minions running amok in this politically volatile country. When German hobnailed boots and tank treads completely overran Romania in 1940, driving Magda and Carol out forever, Magda Lupescu contented herself with jet-setting on 3 continents.

She was born Elena Wolff in 1896, to a Jewish family in a little town called Hertza. The village is in Bessarabia, a district once part of Romania but now within the boundaries of the Soviet Union. Her father changed the family name to Lupescu--a natural Latinization of the original "wolf" derivative--probably because the country was rabidly anti-Semitic even before the Nazis overran the entire continent. Married briefly to an artilleryman in W.W. I, she divorced him just after the Armistice. Somehow she managed to meet Prince Carol, son of the aging King Ferdinand I. Just when and how this happened is not really clear. Certainly Carol was an infamous womanizer until he came across her, probably in 1923. Quite obviously she stole his heart away for good and all.

While consorting with the wily Jewess from Hertza, Carol was still married to Zizi Lambrino, daughter of a Romanian general. King Ferdinand annulled this marriage in 1925, after the birth of Carol's son Mircea. Carol then married Princess Helen of Greece. But his continuing affair with the young woman the caustic Romanian press had dubbed "Magda" was by now discussed openly. When Ferdinand died in 1927, Carol was prevented from succeeding him because of his relationship with Magda Lupescu, and the scandalous pair was exiled. Carol's 4-year-old son Michael was crowned in the traditional European fashion and a regency was appointed to run the country in the boy's name. Carol and Magda set up housekeeping on the Riviera. Princess Helen got her divorce in 1928.

In the meanwhile, the National Peasant party, a leftist but crypto-fascist organization, took control of Romania and made Iuliu Maniu the new Prime Minister. Maniu recalled Carol to Romania late in 1930 as King Carol II, subject to certain conditions. He was to be a constitutional monarch guided entirely by Maniu. And he was to sever all ties with Magda Lupescu. Carol ignored these conditions, and Magda returned to Bucharest. For this reason, Carol was never actually crowned. Maniu, himself an authoritarian, denounced Carol's arrogant policies and at 1st won support by playing on Magda's Jewishness and the couple's immorality. Ultimately, he resigned in protest.

The country, ravaged by the worldwide Depression of the '30s, was rife with racist-nationalist factionalism, political assassination, and street terror. The Iron Guard, a fanatically fascist, anti-Semitic, and pro-German party, grew every year in strength. In 1938, Carol set up his diabolical National Renaissance Front, over which he ruled as absolute dictator, styling himself a "national savior" seeking "rebirth" in a new "corporate state." Magda Lupescu headed, in those bleak days, a corrupt coterie engineered to counter the Nazi goonsquad tactics of the Iron Guard by using the same thuggish street tactics, including murder. The press--what was left of it--referred to her as "the she-wolf" or "the Lupescu"--a sound like spitting. When Carol's Prime Minister, Armand Calinescu, was shot down in cold blood in September, 1939, the pair knew their rule was near an end. They fled westward in 1940, just ahead of Hitler.

And Today: Since Carol died in Portugal in 1953, that country has been Magda's retreat. Now known as Princess Elena, she resides in Estoril, presumably living on the millions Carol took with him from Romania. She travels a great deal, but the Portuguese Government admits--somewhat sheepishly--that she still calls Estoril home.

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