Folk Figure. Born Hedvig Jensen in Flensburg, Germany, to Danish-Norwegian parents. She took the stage name Elvira Madigan from her stepfather, John Madigan, the owner of the circus where she performed as an acrobatic dancer. In 1888, while touring with the troupe through Sweden, she met and fell in love with Sixten Sparre, a cavalry lieutenant in the Swedish Army. She was 21, he was 34. He was also married with two children. They kept their romance a secret until the following year, when Sparre suddenly deserted his family and his post and fled with Elvira to Denmark. They stayed on the island of Taasinge for two weeks before their money ran out. On July 20, 1889, the couple packed a picnic basket and walked deep into the Neorreskov, a nearby forest. After having a final meal and making love for the last time, Sparre shot Elvira and then himself with his service revolver. They were buried together in the Landet Churchyard. The saga of these doomed lovers slowly entered romantic mythology, leaving a key question unanswered: Did Elvira willingly enter a suicide pact with Sparre, or was she the victim of his ruthless obsession? Her sister and friends claimed she was not the romantic type and yearned only for a life away from the circus, which she apparently hoped Sparre would provide. As for her paramour, he was known as something of wastrel, prone to expressing cynical thoughts in his journals while piling up gambling debts. And the positions in which the bodies were found leaves open the possibility that Sparre killed Elvira while she slept. Such clues have had little influence on the popular imagination, which still views the affair as a tragic case of "love on the run". It was the subject of an award-winning film, "Elvira Madigan" (1967), by Swedish director Bo Widerberg. The soundtrack features the Andante from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, now popularly known as "Elvira Madigan's Theme." Newlywed brides still place flowers on Elvira's grave, to make up for the wedding bouquet she never got.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards