Irish professional celebrity (1820-1861). Her real name was Eliza Gilbert, and she was the daughter of an English army officer and an Irish girl of 14. After marrying in 1841 and divorcing in 1842, she studied for a theatrical career, but lacked any real acting talent. She went to study dance in Spain and returned calling herself Maria Dolores de Porris y Montez -- or Lola Montez, for short.
She toured Europe as a dancer -- the critics never thought she was very good, but she got by on her personality and her reputation -- and she displayed a knack for getting involved in scandals. She had a brief affair with composer Franz Liszt in 1844, and he spoke fondly of her years later.
She visited Munich, the capital of Bavaria, in 1846, hoping to perform during the Oktoberfest. She met Ludwig I, who was then 60 years old -- the king became fascinated by Lola, and they began a lengthy affair. The relationship caused a tremendous scandal, both because the king was married, and because it was believed that Montez was interfering in Bavarian politics. Ludwig believed everything that Lola said -- he made her a countess, gave her money, and dismissed government ministers who criticized her. Public protests finally drove Montez out of Bavaria in 1847, and Ludwig abdicated his throne in 1848 when Bavaria adopted a constitutional form of government. Ludwig and Montez lived apart, but he continued to shower her with riches.
Lola emigrated to America and became a popular lecturer, traveling around the world on speaking tours. She was partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1860 and died of pneumonia in 1861.
Research from GURPS Who's Who, compiled by Phil Masters, "Lola Montez" by William H. Stoddard, pp. 104-105.