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Imelda Marcos

Imelda Romualdez Marcos (born July 2, 1929) is the former first lady and a prominent political figure in the Philippines.

Imelda Romualdez spent her early life as a beauty queen, and in 1950 was voted "Miss Manila." Her beauty caught the eye of politician Ferdinand Marcos, and the two married in 1954.

In 1965 Ferdinand was elected President of the Philippines and Imelda began to take an active role in politics. She became the president's closest advisor and started implementing her own policies -- even though she had no constitutional authority to do so. It was often said that Imelda wanted to be a queen, not simply a presidential spouse.

When the Marcos regime became increasingly unpopular, Imelda's glamourous excesses were a frequent target of criticism. While much of the Philippines remained mired in poverty, Imelda was said to possess over 500 pairs of shoes in an enormous walk-in closet.

In 1986 the Marcos regime was toppled and the couple sought exile in Hawaii. Ferdinand died in 1989 and three years later, Imelda returned to the Philippines and ran for president. She was badly defeated, but in 1995 she was able to win a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives.

In 2001, after her term had ended, Imelda was arrested on charges of corruption and extortion committed during her husband's presidency. She had previously been found guilty of similar charges in 1993, but was acquitted.

The controversy centers around approximately 600 million dollars that mysteriously "disappeared" from the Filipino treasury during the Marcos presidency. Most believe the wealth was stolen by the Marcos family and stashed in their Swiss bank account. Imelda denies the charges.