The Many Lives of Maria Rasputin, Daughter of the 'Mad Monk'

Who knew that Rasputin, advisor to Tsar Nicholas II, had a daughter who became a circus performer -and then an American? Maria went from a young village peasant to a life of education and high society in St. Petersburg. The murder of her father threw Maria’s life into chaos. Eventually, Maria’s entire family, as well as the Tsar’s family, were either dead or imprisoned. Maria escaped to Europe with her husband, who died in Paris in 1926. She was left alone with two young daughters to support.

Then, Maria told the Los Angeles Times, “absolutely unexpected, I got offer to be cabaret dancer in Bucharest. This was because of my name, not because of my dancing.” For several years Maria danced across Europe, allowing herself to be billed as “the daughter of the mad monk.” In 1929, she published her first book, The Real Rasputin, a strongly worded defense of her father.

Soon Maria took on another career- that of an animal trainer in a traveling circus. With her characteristic sense of humor, Maria said: “They ask me if I mind to be in a cage with animals, and I answer, ‘Why not? I have been in a cage with Bolsheviks.’”

Maria Rasputin had what you could call an eventful life, which you can read about at Atlas Obscura.

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