Who Was the Most Famous Female Spy?

Interview with the Most Famous Female Spy in History

If I asked you, “Who was the most famous female spy in history?” what name would you say? Was it Florence Nightingale? No, she was a famous female nurse. Was it Medea? No, she was a famous female curse. Was it Prada? No, that’s a famous female purse. And these answers are getting worse! Was it Margaretha Geertruida Zelle? Yes!

You don’t recognize the name? I’m not surprised. That is the real name of the exotic dancer and courtesan who used the stage name of Mata Hari – the woman most of us think of as the most famous female spy in history.

Using my unique and now well-known supernatural interviewing skills, I have just interviewed Mata Hari who died in 1917 and here is her true story. The truth may surprise you.

me – How do you do, Ms. Zelle. May I call you Mata Hari?

Mata –Mata is fine, I don’t stand on ceremony. In fact, in my present deteriorated, desiccated condition, I seldom stand at all.

me – Are you aware, Mata, that your name has since become synonymous with espionage? You are regarded by many as the foremost femme fatale of the 20th century.

Mata – Yes, and that is why I agreed to this interview to set the record straight.

Margaretha/Mata with pigtails
Margaretha/Mata with pigtails
Margaretha/Mata in glamorous pose
Margaretha/Mata in glamorous pose

Early Years

me – Good. Tell me a little about when and where you were born and your earliest memories.

Mata – I was born August 7, 1876 in Leeuwarden, Friesland – that’s in the Netherlands. I was given the name of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. I liked the Margaretha but hated the Geertruida. I was the oldest child with three younger brothers. My father, Adam, was a well-to-do hatter – he owned an exclusive hat store. My mother, Franeker, was a hausfrau (housewife). My early childhood was unremarkable and I attended exclusive private schools until I was thirteen.

Then my father lost his business, declared bankruptcy and my parents got divorced. My mother died two years later. My father remarried but our family had come apart. I went to live with my godfather, Heer Visser, who lived nearby in the town of Sneek.

I wanted to teach kindergarten students and studied at a teacher’s college in Leiden. I did well in my studies but the headmaster began a conspicuous flirtation with me which upset my godfather who refused to pay for any further classes. I had no money so I went to live with an uncle in The Hague.

If you read only one book, read "Femme Fatale"


me – I understand you were married when you were 19. How did you meet your future husband?

Mata – One day in 1895 I was reading the personal ads in a newspaper, “Het Nieuwes van den Dag,” It was the Facebook of its time.One of the ads intrigued me. An army captain stationed in the Dutch East Indies was looking for a wife. I needed to find a husband to support me.

His name was Captain Rudolf John MacLeod and he was of Scottish ancestry but serving in the Dutch army. He had been stationed in the Dutch East Indies for almost twenty years but was now recuperating from malaria in Amsterdam.

me – Did he place the ad in the newspaper?

Mata – No. he was much too serious a fellow. The ad was a practical joke by one of his friends. It was an attractive ad because he received sixteen responses and mine was the last. He told me it was the photo I included that intrigued him. He asked me for a date and our romance became serious despite our 21-year age difference.

We became how do you say, pen pals, and exchanged many letters in which I revealed my loving and passionate nature.

Note: Captain MacLeod later sold these passionate letters to Dutch reporters.

Captain Rudolf and Norman-John
Captain Rudolf and Norman-John
Captain Rudolf and Jeanne-Louise
Captain Rudolf and Jeanne-Louise


We were married that same year (July 1895) in the town hall and honeymooned at the Spa in Wiesbaden, Germany. We lived in Amsterdam for two years where my son, Norman-John, was born but returned to the Indies where we lived for five years in Java and Sumatra. My daughter, Jeanne-Louise, was born there.

me – Was this a happy period in your life?

Mata – It was glorious. My husband was promoted to major and given a new post as commander of the garrison. He was how do you say, big cheese, and I was Mrs. Big Cheese. But my happiness was short-lived. Both my children became violently ill and had to be hospitalized. The doctors said they had been poisoned. Can you imagine? My sweet little Norman died within two days.

I blamed the children’s nurse who friends said had been having an affair with my husband. There was also gossip that my beloved husband had raped the nurse’s daughter and she was getting her revenge by poisoning our children.

I never learned the truth but our marriage had been destroyed and I longed to return to Europe. We did return to Amsterdam in 1902 and my husband showed his true stripes by becoming an alcoholic and a womanizer. He deserted us and I was granted a divorce. I left my daughter with relatives and moved to Paris in 1903.

The God Siva
The God Siva

Early Days in Paris

me - How did you support yourself?

Mata – My first job was as an artist’s model. I wasn’t what you would call a great beauty like Angelina Jolie but I did have an interesting exotic look. My greatest asset was my graceful, some say sensual body. To supplement my very meager income, I also took a job where I performed as an equestrian in a circus using the name Lady MacLeod – I got the idea from Lady Gag Gag. That job didn’t last long – the circus didn’t get enough bookings.

me –You mean Lady Gaga.

Mata - Right. I had always loved to dance so I decided to become a professional dancer. At that time Parisians were very interested in the culture of the Orient. Although I had never studied dance, I had continuously observed Indonesian traditions and dances. I did have a natural grace of movement. My former husband could attest to that. I decided to bring to Europeans the style of dancing I had admired during my five years in the Dutch East Indies. I would become an Asian exotic dancer.

me – You were very courageous to begin a new career like that.

Mata – It was a case of survival you know. I had invented a new personal history. As Lady MacLeod, I told people my father was a British aristocrat and my mother an Indian woman who trained me as a Hindu temple dancer. Fortunately, most Europeans at that time confused the Dutch East Indies with India.

A good friend, Mme Kireyevsky, a former singer asked me to perform in the salon of her home. Emile Etienne Guimet, the proprietor of the Musee Guimet, an oriental art museum, was in the audience. He became a “follower” and invited me to dance at his museum. He decorated the stage with a statue of Siva, a Hindu God, hired four additional dancers, and lit the whole scene in candlelight.

I wore gauzy, transparent shawls that I removed as the dance became more erotic. The climax, and I use the word loosely, of my performance was a simulated sex act with the statue of Siva. The audience had never seen anything like this before. They went crazy. I was instantly a celebrity with a following of Russian and French aristocracy.

me – Was that when you became Mata Hari?

Mata – I can tell you’ve done your homework. Yes, M. Guimet realized that my aristocratic stage name was not authentic for a “Hindu temple dancer.” We decided on the name Mata Hari which means “light of the day” or “eye of the day” meaning the sun.

Note: Mata Hari’s timing was perfect. An Asian Exotic Dancer was something new and novel to the European public. And she was a contemporary of noted dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis who were leaders of the early modern dance movement.

Greta Garbo as Mata Hari in 1931 film

I borrowed the snake ornament from Cleopatra
I borrowed the snake ornament from Cleopatra

Success in Paris

me – News reporters at that time compared you to Isadora Duncan. Did that surprise you?

Mata – Yes, I never had any delusions about my dancing ability. The only real comparison was that we were both dancers. Isadora danced with the freedom of modernism. I danced with the freedom of an exotic dancer, in other words, an ecdysiast or what you call in the U.S., a stripper.

me – Ecdysiast ? That’s a five dollar word.

Mata – I know. I used the computer you lent me and looked it up on Google. (Giggles) But I have to admit that exotic dancing was not my only talent. For nine years until 1914 when World War I began, thanks to the entrée into society that my dancing brought me, I was also well-known as a famous and successful courtesan. I danced my way into the hearts and wallets of military men and statesmen all over the globe.

I’m not admitting anything of course, but it is said that one of my first conquests was Baron Henry de Marguerie, a wealthy man about town who was attached to the French ministry in Hague. He underwrote my expenses when I first began my career.

As well as other lovers including War Minister Adolphe-Pierre Messimy, composer Giacomo Puccini, Baron Henri de Rothschild, Frederick William Victor Augustus Ernest, the German crown prince, and composer Jules Massenet. I danced in his opera, “Le Roi de Lahore” in 1906.

me – What do you mean, “… it is said ….” Were these famous men not your lovers?

Mata – What is that well known adage in the U.S.? Don’t ask, don’t tell? I subscribe to that. I will say that I managed to scandalize the audience and the theater management wherever I performed. I captivated audiences by posing as a princess from Java who had been immersed in the art of sacred Indian dance since childhood. Many of the photos taken at the time show me to be nude or nearly so.

Note: Some of these nude photos were obtained by Mata’s former husband and strengthened his case in maintaining custody of their daughter.

me – Why do you think your act was so successful?

Mata – Two reasons: first – my “act” as you put it broke new ground for a style of entertainment for which Paris was later to become world famous (think Folies Bergere), and elevated exotic dance to a more respectable status. Second, my carefree, free-wheeling provocative style was the attraction.

me – Meaning . . .

Mata - my willingness to appear almost nude on the stage. The most celebrated segment of my act was progressively shedding my clothing while dancing (think Salome and the dance of the seven veils) until I wore only some ornaments upon my head and arms and a small bra.

Note: Mata Hari was seldom seen without a bra as she was self-conscious about being small-breasted. Photos taken during her performances suggest she may have worn a body stocking for her appearances.

I'm not getting older. I'm getting better.
I'm not getting older. I'm getting better.


me – What problem did you encounter?

Mata – The problem was my age. I had begun my career late in life and by 1914 I was 38 years old. I was still attractive but past what is called one’s prime. Younger women were now doing my act and some were even more risqué. There were fewer performances and as a result fewer opportunities to meet new lovers . . . with funds.

My relationships and liaisons with powerful men had taken me across international borders constantly and as World War I approached, people who formerly viewed me as a free-spirited artist were now seeing me as a promiscuous and perhaps even dangerous seductress.

Mata Hari Montage

Statue of Mata Hari, Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Statue of Mata Hari, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Kurt Vonnegut, the author, dedicated this book to Mata Hari.

World War I

me - Were you a spy, Mata?

Mata – While I was in The Hague in 1916 a member of the German consulate offered me money for information I obtained on my next visit to France. I passed some old, outdated information to a German intelligence officer. That was my entire spying career. I was guilty only of being naïve.

me – What happened next?

Mata - I fell in love with a young Russian officer, Vadim de Masloff, switched my allegiance and offered to work for the French. I even proposed to enter Germany and seduce a former lover, the Crown Prince. My contact, however, turned out to be the head of French counter-espionage, Captain Georges Ladoux, who had planned to entrap me.

Note: Ladoux later was arrested for being a double agent himself.

The Netherlands remained neutral during the war so as a Dutch subject I was able to cross national borders without problems. I had many friends among high-ranking allied military officers. But British intelligence learned of my prior arrangement with the German consul and informed the French. I was arrested on February 13, 1917 when I returned to France.

me – Why did the French believe you were such a dangerous spy?

Mata – French intelligence agents intercepted messages from Germany describing a helpful German spy with the code name of H-21. I am told they believed that was me.

me – You were not the spy H-21?

Mata – Of course not. It was all a contrived deception.

me – How do you know that?

Mata – Because the messages from Germany were in a code that German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French. The messages were false and meant to be deciphered to protect the identity of the real spy.

Last Act

Mata Hari was put on trial, accused of spying for Germany and causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. She was found guilty and executed by firing squad on October 14, 1917. She was 41.

Was Mata Hari a dangerous spy? Or did the French use circumstantial and manufactured evidence to use her capture as a propaganda boost?

Was she the unfortunate victim of a hysterical section of the French press and the public who were determined to discover evidence of a non-existent enemy within? A convenient scapegoat attractive as much for her prurient profession as for her crimes?

Final Note: The official case documents regarding her execution were sealed for 100 years. In 1985, biographer Russell Warren Howe managed to convince the French Minister of National Defense to break open the file. It was revealed that Mata Hari was innocent of the charges of espionage.

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved.

Sources: Howe, Russell Warren. Mata Hari: The True Story, Dodd, Mead & Company, NY. 1986. Martini, Teri. The Secret Is Out: True Spy Stories, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1990. Ostrovsky. Erika, Eye of Dawn: The Rise and Fall of Mata Hari, Macmillan Publishing, Co., NY, 1978.

B. J. Rakow, Ph.D., Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Enlightening information about interviewing, networking, writing resumes and cover letters and negotiating. But fun to read.


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Comments 103 comments

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 6 years ago from Minnesota

What a fun way to educate people on famous people in our history. I was captivated by your interview and feel like I have a good idea of what she was about. Great job:)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Twin, for being captivated (love that word) by my "interview." Education delivered in a light-hearted manner works best for me. Delighted you enjoyed this hub. Take a look at the other interviews, too, and let me know your reactions. :)

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Gosh, I didn't know Mata Hari had such an unpronounceable name! Or of her Indian connections...suddenly a light bulb lights up above my head...I finally understand her name! :)

msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

Ahumnn...I knew you would write about her drbj so I had to read your hub right away..

Wow, she is gorgeous!! But there are plenty of gorgeous women..so I must concur that she had more than exotic beauty.

This is so fascinating because of your mention of her husband...She must have been the woman in the story "The Jewels" by Guy de Maupassant...just a thought.

It is as beautifully presented as always, drbj.

BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

Another blockbuster. I always liked her. She looked like a real woman does. Keep us going with all these interviews.

We will all cry when you decide you are done with this and move on to other writing fun.

christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

During war a lot of mistakes get made when people, or governments get panicky. Is it possible that Mata Hari got shot because she knew things about top french officials that they would rather have kept hidden?

Excellent Hub, very entertaining.

Thank you.

Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Execllent hub boyfriend, this was so fun to read and I love history and you got to the truth of the matter. I bet she stood there in front of that firing squad as proud as could be, with her head held up high, she seems like a proud women to me. Sad though he life story and in those days women needed men to survive, as jobs for women were only low level. Love this hub, and I love you rate up hugs darski

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

It is amazing how many things we take to be true are lies. Cover-ups. This is another well-enjoyed "interview"! I find your "histories" very easy to read and follow. Some remind me of Paul Harvey's "And Now You Know The Rest Of The Story!" Thank you!

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Fascinating hub. I love the way you present the facts. Voted up and awesome.

psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 6 years ago

And she was innocent after all that. Enjoyed this biography or should I say interview?! Loved the Greta Garbo film too - what subtelties have we lost!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

This is a fantastic hub. I always thought she was a spy and remember hearing of her when I was a child. I enjoyed your hub very much. Voted/rated up.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

I love turning on light bulbs, Feline, dear. Me, too. I didn't really know much about Mata Hari before I researched this hub. And as for her birth name, who knew?

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Melinda, m'luv, happy to have you here. You are such a loyal reader. Yes, Mata was both very attractive, sensual-looking and exotic. And endowed it would seem with special talents.

Right on. Her life with Captain MacLeod is like that story by de Maupassant. He must not have been a 'fun' person to live with.

Kurt Vonnegut admired her enough to dedicate one of his novels to her.

Thanks for your gracious comments - as always. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

A 'block buster'? Wow, BJ, I love your choice of comments. And you are spot on. Mata did look like a real woman with real curves.

I wouldn't want anyone to cry so I'll stay in this Interview mode for awhile thanks to you-all. I love doing them, too. And thanks for that very sweet comment. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

That's a very incisive comment, Christopher. I think it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Mata with her international alliances (?) may have become an embarrassment or as you suggest, knew too much.

Thank you for visiting and the 'entertaining' comment. It is entirely my pleasure. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Darski, m'dear, you got right to the heart of the matter. Everything I have read about Mata indicates that she stood in front of that firing squad with dignity and no outward show of emotion.

Some historians say she said, "Harlot, yes; but traitor, never." That would be very much like the way she lived her life. Doing what she loved and what she needed to do to survive.

Thank you, sweetie, for the love and the 'up.'

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Micky. You are so right. So much of what we hear and view is colored by personal viewpoints and the speaker or writer's opinion. Cover-ups about almost everything are everywhere.

Except for Mata. She 'covered up' very little. :)

Thank you for enjoying this Interview. I'nm delighted you find them easy to read and follow. And thnks for the gracious comparison to Paul Harvey, an amazing narrator and writer. No thanks necessary, the pleasure is all mine.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, sweet bp, for stopping by. I know how busy you are in the mornings cooking up a storm of breakfasts and political opinions. Which are generally right on.

Thank you for finding this hub fascinating and awesome. Those are some of the same emotions I felt when learning more about Mata.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, psychicdog, my friend. Yes, Mata may have been innocent after all. Isn't that a kick in the teeth?

So happy you enjoyed this interview and the Garbo film. And that was a very perceptive comment you made. Very little is subtle in today's world it seems.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Again a super and informative hub. Very comprehensive. I didn't know about the revelation of the documents.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Pamela, thank you for visiting, as always, and I'm delighted you enjoyed this hub. And thanks for the 'up'.

Like you, it seems I have always known the name, Mata Hari, but never really knew the real story until I began the research. What a fascinating world we live in with so many unbelievable stories. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, hello, me, too. I didn't have a clue about that bombshell of a revelation about Mata's innocence until I did the research.

Thank you for visiting and for the delightful comments. 'Super, informative and comprehensive' is what I attempt to be. :)

christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

One thing about her that I remember, and will always admire, she is said to have refused to wear a blindfold in front of the firing squad.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, Christopher, I learned that, too. Speaks volumes about her true nature, doesn't it?

nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

Isn't a "famous spy" the epitome of oxymoron? Women can't keep a secret anyway. ;)

BTW, I love this format.

Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

Great sexsit joke Mr. Comp. I'm tittering.

DRBJ - I LOVED how you went COMPLETELY out of your way to work some poetry into the first paragraph. That kind of stuff really cracks me up. The interview and the photos/videos were great too. I'm in awe of hubbers like you who are capable of such exhaustive research. This one would have taken me a year to put together. Rated up and then did the happy dance on the buttons.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

You did 'it' again ! I loved your interwiew. I thought she was very truthful in answering your 'loaded' questions. I also thought she was a little puggy in the tummy LOL What struck me was her thinking that she was old at thirty eight. I guess back then that was true. Thank goodness that has changed LOL I'm patiently awaiting your next interview. This is great fun and an excellent learning tool. Thank you.


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

Kurt Vonnegut dedicated a novel to her?????? Wow!!!!

Within reason any woman can make herself look very attractive, no matter what size, shape or form. Just being a woman makes her so. But indeed there are women destined to be written about in History..

Thank you, drbj!! You are doing a fantastic job. Will read about Cleopatra VII again sometime.

FGual profile image

FGual 6 years ago from USA

Fascinating interview. The vintage photos of her are a treasure. She strikes me as the Marylin Monroe of her time, unforgettable. The woman who knew too much became the inconvenient woman. A sad end to her life.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Well first, BJ I have to know where you got those pictures of me? My graceful sensual body and all? Gosh...I'm so embarrassed now. People will be dreaming of me all the time!

Second....that Rudolf was one ugly dude! How tragic about her children being poisoned because of his wanton ways...and he wasn't even that good looking!!

Lady Gag Gag - Gotta LOVE that one! And imagine that she used your computer and Googled (and giggled).

Too cute as ALWAYS....how sad though that she was innocent. I know how she felt though....at 38, I was way past my prime and I guess if I'd been left to my own defenses, I might have ended up in front of the firing squad too. Thankfully, I had my work as a lowly transcriptionist to hide my TRUE self (that graceful sensual person) from life.

Thumbs (and toes) up!!!! You are genius with these interviews!

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TattoGuy 6 years ago

Woooooo, deff your best so far Drbj. Jeeez I never realised all that about Mata Hari and even to this day her name makes you think of sexy female spys.

You my friend should be a teacher, you have a unique skill im making history interesting, loved this one !

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Awesome, just awesome, I was thrilled to read about the most famous spy. I secretly want to take up the life of a spy, how thrilling especially if you're as good as Mata Hari the most thrilling and amazing of all female spies.

I def took notes! Well Doone! :) Katie

susannah42 profile image

susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

Very enjoyable reading. Educational as well as entertaining. Good job.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

If only I was not so shy.... :))

It actually boggles my mind – what qualities do a woman need to become an exotic dancer et cetera? Definitely not only a well-composed body...

Anyway, too late for me to use the answer for personal advantage. It will only kill my curiosity.

I enjoyed this extremely interesting and adventurous interview of you with the one and only Mata Hara, drbj. I wonder who’s next on your list? Can’t wait to see! In the meanwhile, L’chaim!

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

When I was 11 years old, a friend of my mother's took me to see Gypsy Rose Lee. Just like Mata Hari, she started her act clothed in veils, which she removed one by one. Very sexy! At that point in my life, I decided I wanted to be a stripper, but alas, that did not happen. I became a teacher instead.

Another great hub! It is entertaining and informative. I am kinda sad to learn Mata Hari was not really a spy.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

nicomp - Thanks for loving this format. I love it, too.

BTW, you may be mistaken about women not being able to keep secrets. Women CAN keep secrets!

It's the men they tell them to who can't.

Be good now or I'll bring out the big guns: It's true that God created man before woman, but then again you always make a rough draft before creating the final masterpiece. :)

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

What a shame...the babe took a bullet for someone else. I think you should do Lady Godiva next time and ask her if she really rode the horse side-saddle and was she naked? Is that where the phrase "Hooray for our side!" was coined! WB

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Where have I gone wrong? First it's nicomp with that (?) statement. Then Stan with his 'tittering.' Oh, well, it comes with the territory.

Thanks, Stan, for loving my beginning verse; cracking you up is my raison d'etre. And thank you also for the gracious comments and the 'happy button dance.' Would have loved to watch that one.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Ruby. Thanks for loving my Mata interview. So you noticed my interview questions were 'loaded'? That's the best way I've found to get 'loaded' answers.

Yes, Mata was far from anorexic; she had a little tummy and curves to match. Sad isn't it, that she considered herself old at 38.

You know what they say about feeling old. A woman is as old as she feels! And a man is old when he stops feeling!

Haven't yet decided on my next interview victim, I mean subject, but I promise not to stop . . . yet.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, Melinda, Vonnegut may have been one of her 'admirers.'

She certainly was, as you say, a woman destined to go down in history.

Thanks for the 'fantastic' - I love to have you visit. And do visit Cleo; she will be thrilled.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hello, FGual. Thank you for enjoying this 'fascinating interview' and the vintage photos of Mata. She was definitely unforgettable - a woman way, way ahead of her time. Not just a beautiful 'Marilyn Monroe type' but a Gypsy Rose Lee forging a new destiny for strippers on the stage.

I like your comment: 'The woman who knew too much became the inconvenient woman." Very perceptive and possibly true, FGual.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

And to think until now, Audrey, you were only famous for your comic escapades with dogs, sleds, fish, skis, and other assorted animals and objects. Now your secret is out. I published those photos. You will be famous all over again.

You are so right ... Rudolf was a miserable excuse for a man and it's sad their children had to pay the price for his escapades.

So you liked Lady Gag Gag and the giggles. You touched my heart. I kinda liked those, too.

Oh, what a blow. You mentioned being over 38 - I would never have guessed. I pegged you for a barely mature 29. Audrey, my sweet, you could never be past your prime. And transcriptioning does little to hide your graceful, sensual talents you know. There - I've told the world.

Thanks for the thumbs and toes up. Do you have a photo available of that pose? Just wonderin'.

Oh, and thanks for the 'genius' remark - that and you are special.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

I knew somehow, Art, this story about Mata, the sexy spy, would touch your heart even though she wasn't a redhead. Thanks for the very kind comments.

Delighted you loved this one and that I make history interesting for you. It's what I love to do.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hiya, katie. Thanks for the 'awesome' comment. Delighted you were thrilled to read the exploits about the life - and death - of Mata.

She was a unique, determined personality living during a very difficult time when there were few acceptable opportunities for single women.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Oh, susannah, thanks for stopping by and your gracious comments - all those wonderful 'e' words: 'enjoyable, educational and entertaining'. I couln't ask for more than that.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Martie. You? Shy? I don't believe it for a minute.

From the photos I've glimpsed of you, exotic dancing might well be an option. A star with a well-composed body AND a well-composed mind - what a winning combination! Do you also have a resume illustrating your spying accomplishments?

Delighted beyond words you enjoyed this 'adventurous' interview. Who's next? I can't wait to see either. Thanks for the L’chaim! Backatacha - Goeie gesondheid en geluk so goed vir jou ook.

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Mata Hari is a woman I had never heard of before! I love reading your interviews and learning new things. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, mysterylady. What a treat - to see Gypsy in person. I only saw her in movies. And the one in which Natalie Wagner plays her a a young beginning stripper.

So you saw the veils disappear in person. I can understand what an impact that may have had at your tender age of 11. And I can easily understand why that experience may have affected your choice of potential vocation.

As you say, alas, that didn't happen and you became a teacher instead. But think of it this way, ml, instead of removing physical veils you were wearing, you are removing invisible veils of ignorance as you educate your students. Is that a nifty parable or wha?

Thank you for the 'entertaining and informative' comments; it makes my day.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Wayne, thanks for riding in, pardner. Yeah, poor Mata bit the bullet and took a few dozen as well.

Lady Godiva, eh? I guess you don't think about horses all the time. I'll see what I can "dig up'.

I don't know whether your phrase, 'hooray for our side' was coined at that time, but I wouldn't be surprised if binoculars became very popular about then. With wide-angle lenses.

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drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Ivorwen.

Delighted to have expanded your knowledge about Mata Hari - she is the woman most people think of when the phrase, 'female spy,' is mentioned.

Thank you very much for loving to read my interviews and learning new things. I do, too. All the time. :)

Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

Once again you capture your audience!! Well maybe 'capture' is not the appropriate term since Mata Hari was captured...

I did notice her looks seemed to have changed over the years, almost like she was becoming the part. How cool!!

Heading over to read all about Al Capone!!

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

How clever, susie - I 'captured' the audience. Thank you.

Yes, Mata did appear more glamorous as she grew more, shall we say, experienced? Or maybe she just learned the art of makeup and applying eye shadow, lipstick, blusher, eyeliner, etc., etc.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Let me know what you think of Capone. :)

epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

..... it took me so long to scroll down the bottom of this screen that the firing squad got tired of waiting - and let Mata Hari go and now she's appearing on the talk show circuit - and when I saw your title at the beginning I thought you were doing an interview with Hilary Clinton - lol lol lol - just kidding - me knew just by looking at the picture who it was - and now I know who will win at the Academy Awards this year for best hubs of the year - the interview series by DRBJ!

ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 6 years ago

I do love the bit of humor you always throw into these interview hubs. Lady Gag Gag is my favorite singer too, and I love to giggle while I google things.

I am strangely sad about the tragic ending to this woman's life. I really didn't know anything about her, and I'm glad to have learned what Mata Hari represents.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Oh, Colin, the famous female spy - Hilary? You ARE a rascal! If Mata went on the talk show circuit as per your suggestion, she would - without a doubt - be an instant star. Like you, my friend.

What a proclamation - Academy Award for best hubs of the year - my interview series? You are def one of my very bestest friends. And admirorers - admirerors - admieerors. Heck - fans! :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

So Lady Gag Gag is one of your favorites, AC? That's okay, I forgive you. Just kidding. She is one incredible showman - I mean, woman.

I knew we were related. I, too, often giggle when I Google. Especially when I Google gaggle.

Delighted to have brought Mata to your attention but distressed by your sadness. Never fear. Mata Hari will live forever on Hubpages! Right? :)

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

I loved your little parable! You cannot imagine how vivid a memory that is. The show was in good taste. At the beginning, young women came on stage one at a time, each wearing a different colored tiny bikini. Gypsy Rose Lee dressed each one in veils that matched the color the woman was wearing. At the end, she did her act.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

It just shows to go ya..you don't have to be a C cup or a great beauty to "wow em". Well done doc.

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

This format is really working for you, and for us readers too. It's a much better way to absorb the info while enjoying the process.

I've seen a couple of photos of Mata Hari over the years, but this selection represented her in so many poses that I can easily form a better appreciation of her appeal.

BTW, has anyone ever mentioned the fact that the perfect place for a future spy to live is "Sneek"!?! :{)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Delighted you enjoyed my 'veiled' parable, mysterylady. Thanks for returning. I do believe that thinking that way is what teachers and educators have to do to stay effective in today's world.

I'm so jealous - you saw Gypsy and her troupe in person! What a unique treat.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Hillary, for the well done.

You are so right - it takes more than a bountiful bosom to succeed in "show" business. Ho, ho. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Christopher, so happy you and my faithful readers are enjoying this 'supernatural interview' format. I'm enjoying it, too. It makes me work a little harder to think of new ways to present the fantastic information I find about these infamous folks.

Thanks for appreciating Mata's photos - they were an 'eye-opener' to me. And yes, you hit it on the button. Sneek would be the perfect place to base a spy. Peter Sellers would have been the perfect actor to play a Sneek sneak.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Terrific piece, thoroughly enjoyable. I especially loved your opening lines—quite clever and humorous. Thanks for the good read. I learned a lot. She was a hot momma! :D

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you so much, James, for enjoying this piece. And especially for your appreciation of my 'clever' opening verse.

Mata was indeed a hot momma as well as from what I've read, a cool cucumber in front of that firing squad.

Your gracious comments are always most appreciated.

jackavc profile image

jackavc 6 years ago from Australia

Wow that is one of the most engaging hubs I have read. If history could be taught like that to the younger generation then maybe more would be interested in history. Enjoyed every bit of that , well done can't wait for more.

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Hi drbj Or, 'Doing Rather Big Jokes'. History with wise cracks works beautifully and the interview lark is spot on. History and sport were the only subjects i enjoyed at school. Great hub. Cheers

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

With such an educator as yourself, no wonder Fokk U has become such a great institution :-)))

You are so good at this, Kid :-)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hey, jackavc, nice to meet you. Delighted you enjoyed this 'engaging' hub - I do enjoy that adjective, too.

I also enjoy making history more interesting - too many folks, young and old alike, do not realize how enchanting history can be with the right perspective. That perspective for me is humor.

Thank you for visiting and let me know what you think of my previous Interviews with famous dead celebrities listed above. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Keith - 'Doing Rather Big Jokes,' eh? Clever, my man. So happy you are enjoying my series of Interviews. Yes, wise cracks do help blunt the grief of losing these infamous, indefatigable but never insipid individuals.

Thank you for appreciating their stories. Cheers backatcha.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hello, dearest dimi - I knew you, more than any other erudite savant, would appreciate my finding fertile subjects to memorialize with 'Interviews' - even though they may be dearly departed.

And thank you for recognizing the greatness of 'Fock University' - long may it flourish. Loved that final remark - made me feel good all over.

And speaking of feeling good, have you seen Stan's newest hub with more outrageous subjects for us to write about in contest number two. He is going to be the judge himself - do you think that is a reflection on our inherent turpitude?

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

No, I have not seen Stan's latest effort, but I am keeping well away from it myself. With the current financial crisis, one can't get a decent bribe from anyone nowadays ;-)

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK


Oh and by the by, I have just remembered that in a moment of weakness we somehow got engaged last year and I forgot all about it. If you will remember, I had volunteered to hack my way through the underbrush to the nearest Tesco for those cookies you had your heart set on?

I sincerely hope that you do not feel like some broken blossom that I have culled and left to perish by the wayside? Nor your marriage prospects irretrievably ruined?

ImChemist profile image

ImChemist 6 years ago

I think its Angelina Joli in her last movie "Salt"

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

It's true, dimi, bribes are harder to come by these days . . . unless you are friendly with a Washington lobbyist.

As far as the cookies or marriage prospects are concerned, do not be perturbed. I can still afford one chocolate chip from time to time without any strings! :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, ImChemist. I saw the film, "Salt," and I have to admit Angelina makes one heck of a female spy. I'm a fan, too.

At the end of the movie, it looked like there was going to be a sequel. Would you agree? If so, I plan to see it.

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Is it possible that my witty remark about broken blossoms that were culled and left to perish by the wayside has gone unnoticed? Oh the hurt! :-))))

bugslady8949 profile image

bugslady8949 6 years ago from The Bahamas

you did a great job on this hub, It is sad the way she died.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

I could never ignore, dimi, the pearls of wisdom you so kindly deposit herein. But I must warn you, sir, I have never nor do I expect to be 'culled.' So there! :)

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, bugslady8949 - thanks for visiting and for the kind comment. Yes, it is sad and looking back, entirely unnecessary.

BTW, do you make many new friends with that name? Just wonderin. :)

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

What fun! I loved the interview you had (where do you get your supernatural powers? LOL!) But I did learn a lot and have always been intrigued by smart, clever women. :) Cheers, Steph

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Me, too, That is, intrigued by smart clever women. Like us'n. Thank you, steph, for loving this interview. My supernatural powers are growing every day; I'm beginning to frighten even me.

Thanks for visiting and cheers backatcha.

blackmagyk profile image

blackmagyk 6 years ago

Really cool hub and a fun twist on learning. She was a very remarkable person.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

You are spot on, Ian. Mata was remarkable and unforgettable. Thanks for visiting and the cool hub comment. Delighted you enjoyed this 'twist on learning.'

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I loved the slant and humor in this interesting Hub. Rated up!

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you. sizie, so much for the visit, the up, and loving the humor. I had a good time with it, too.

sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 6 years ago from Indiana

You really are the best interviewer ever! Barbara Walters, step aside!

Leave it to men to enjoy looking a woman, then accuse her of being a spy!

This is bookmarked for school. You really do make learning interesting... and tittersome! Is that a word?

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Why thank you, sue. I'll take on Babwa Walters any day now. Mata Hari was a very interesting woman and she seemed to know how to intrigue some very high placed men. In fact, most men.

Thanks for the kind comment - making learning interesting is one of my favorite things. And tittersome? I love it. And yes, it is now a word. I have spoken.

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TattoGuy 6 years ago

I need yer humor on my forum. the link is on my profile !

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for the heads up, Art. Will take a look. :)

cceerpp profile image

cceerpp 6 years ago from Ghana

You are a wonderful writer. I like the way you treat historical events. Thank you.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, cceerpp, you are a 'wonderful' reader. i like the way you comment. Please visit my other supernatural "Interviews" with famous dead people.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

I just love your stuff especially when you form it in your interview style. I was interested in this because I saw a program the other night called "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" and it was about a possible first female spy. It was a great story and to know that many women lead regualr lives but were spies as well.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Izettl, for visiting and for 'loving my stuff' - especially my Interviews with Famous but Dead Celebrities.

I missed the program you mentioned but am not surprised it was about female spies. There have always been women skilled at spying as are men. They just keep a lower profile.

They certainly give the lie to that old canard that women can't keep a secret. We can. It's the people we tell them to who can't!

AskAshlie3433 profile image

AskAshlie3433 6 years ago from WEST VIRGINIA

Wow, how great is this! Drbj, great job. All of the photos and the interview was the bomb. No doubt. You are a great writer. Keep up the good work.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you so much, Ashlie, for visiting, and 'great' is one of my all time faves. Delighted you enjoyed the photos and grateful you thought the interview was 'the bomb.'

I plan to keep up with the writing as long as you plan to keep up with the reading and commenting. Fair enough? :)

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

drbj - it seems like when we think of spies - we think of lies and betrayal. Poor Mata Hari, so often betrayed. I liked it better when I thought she was some kind of scheming seductress, the ultimate glamor girl spy. I love the pictures.

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

You just hit a nerve, Dolores; you are very perceptive. We would rather detest Mata than feel sorry for her. She may have lived a glamorous, exciting life but she paid dearly for her pleasures.

Thanks for your perspicacious comments and loving the pictures. :)

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 5 years ago


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida Author

We must really be connected, sheila. I know exactly what you are saying! :)

Charles James profile image

Charles James 4 years ago from Yorkshire, UK


Is it possible that Mata Hari was not completely truthful with you? As a citizen of a neutral country getting involved with three intelligence services was bound to end in trouble.

She should have found a good man and settled for him instead of playing the field.

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Of course, Charles, there is always the possibility that the interviewee may not be telling the complete truth or is utilizing the sin of omission. The more I learned of her background and activity, the more I was convinced that Mata did not always act in her own best interests.

I believe she would have loved to be loved once again by the German Crown Prince but may have been betrayed.

I like your suggestion but in her circumstances, that good man may have been hard to find.

Hady Chahine profile image

Hady Chahine 4 years ago from Manhattan Beach

Nice hub! Very interesting read. I'm going to purchase The Red Dancer. Thanks for sharing!

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

So nice to meet you, Hady. Delighted you found this to be an interesting read. I was fascinated the more I learned about Mata. I'm sure you will be just as fascinated with that book.

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