Talk:Mata Hari

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Former good article nominee Mata Hari was a History good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
October 15, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed
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1985 Film[edit]

I came here hoping to find some reference to the 1985 film and its accuracy. Since it stars Sylvia Kristel, famous for her roles in the Emmanuelle series, I have doubt the film's focus was historical accuracy.

There appears to have been several other renditions of Mata Hari throughout cinematic history, which at least merit mention beside Greta Garbo's.

Further, the page herein seems to be overly abundant with video game refernces that either use Mata Hari's name only, or are genericaly derived from her. There are many real world, literary, and cinematic refernces that are probably much more deserving of mention than these. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 00:27, 3 November 2005

Shadow Hearts[edit]

I don't know if anyone feels this deserves especial notation, but there is a character in the original Shadow Hearts by the name of Margarete G. Zelle. The character is more of a fictional creation based on Mata Hari than an actual representation of the historical figure. In this game, Margarete is an American spy with no background on exotic dancing. She does use sex appeal to her advantage, though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 18:57, 25 March 2006

Pop culture reference: War in Hell[edit]

I remember she is one of the characters in the 'Heroes in Hell' series of books. However, it's a sort of shared world thing and it's a LONG time since I read it, so I don't remember the details well enough to add it sensibly, like in which of the books or which author, which would be necessary for veracity. (Besides being new to this wikipedia edit thing). If someone has the books at hand and can double check this, please do! [1] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:05, 20 September 2006


I'm a firm believer that most of what is on television is pure nonsense these days, but had a couple questions about something random I heard on television. Mata Hari was mentioned in a History Channel program (I think it was "Great Spy Stories: Hitler's Spies"). It said that Mata Hari traveled to Paris in 1919, met George Ladu (head of the French Secret Service) and then was captured and interrogated before traveling to Spain, etc. The article currently states that it is "unclear" if she was working for the French; is that because other sources say that the meeting in Paris didn't happen?

Also, the program also mentioned that the transmission of the message with the code already broken was a undeniably on purpose, and that this was due to her affair with the military attache himself - von Calle, who sent the messages to be intercepted to set her up. This information is also found (in more detail than it gave on television) on the BBC website.

So anyway, I was curious if any of that needed to be added or clarified, or is it deliberately not stated in the article because it is disputed by other scholars or historians? *Vendetta* (whois talk edits) 08:37, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Considering she was executed in 1917, and conspiracy theories that she wasn't actually don't seem to have any real support (both in terms of sources and in terms of logic), any suggestion suggestion she met someone in 1919 is most likely not suitable for inclusion in the article. Nil Einne (talk) 16:04, 4 December 2013 (UTC)


She belonged to the etnic group of the Frisians. Is that included in the article yet, for I think there should at least be a very small section on it. Thanks in advanche, -The Bold Guy- (talk) 14:22, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Someone should add that. The Frisian wikipedia says she is "one of the most renowned Frisian" -- (talk) 22:02, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Pop culture proposed cleanup[edit]

The Pop Culture section of this article is getting way out of hand. I'd like to propose a serious pruning of the lists in this section. Of course, which items should stay and which should go is likely to be debatable, so I'm going to list what I think should stay and go. Others, please chime in if you agree or disagree. I'm going to copy the lists below and strikeout or otherwise indicate (in italics) what I think should go. For the sake of clarity, please don't edit my versions below; list what you agree or disagree with under that. If I get no response by, say, the end of the week, I will assume there's no disagreement with my proposal, and go ahead and do the pruning. keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 14:20, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Movies and television[edit]

In the table: anything that is "based on" or "a parody of" should go.

Actress Character Appearance Date
Asta Nielsen Mata Hari Die Spionin 1921
Magda Sonja " Mata Hari, die Rote Tänzerin 1927
Greta Garbo " Mata Hari 1931
Lyda Roberti "Mata Machree"
based on Mata Hari.
Million Dollar Legs 1932
- "Hata Mari" Plane Daffy 1944
"Mata Lopez"
a parody of Mata Hari.
The Phil Silvers Show 1950s
Jean Vander Pyl "Rocka Hara"
a parody of Mata Hari.
The Flintstones 1960s
Debbie (Simian) "Mata Hairi"
a parody of Mata Hari.
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp 1960s
Jeanne Moreau Mata Hari Mata-Hari 1964
Joanna Pettet "Mata Bond"
the illegitimate child of Mata Hari and James Bond.
Casino Royale 1967
Zsa Zsa Gabor Mata Hari Up the Front 1972
Sylvia Kristel " Mata Hari 1985
Domiziana Giordano " "Paris, October 1916"
(an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles)
Michiko Neya
Amanda Winn Lee (in English dubbing)
Nancy Makuhari
a clone of Mata Hari
Read or Die 2001
Alyssa Milano Mata Hari "Used Karma"
(an episode of Charmed)
Tamara Bleszynski Based on Mata Hari Sang Penari 2007

Books and plays[edit]

  • Lene Lovich co-wrote and performed Mata Hari, a play/musical at the Lyric Hammersmith, London, UK, Oct-Nov 1982.
  • In the Indiana Jones series of novels, Young Indiana Jones: The Mata Hari Affair - by James Luceno, Indy loses his virginity to Mata Hari when he was a teenager and a Corporal in the Belgian Army.
  • Author Kurt Vonnegut's character Howard W. Campbell, Jr. dedicates his "memoirs" to Mata Hari in the novel, Mother Night.
  • The pianist Mischa Jones series of novels
  • In the anime R.O.D: Read or Die Read or Die OVA, 'Miss Deep' is revealed to be a clone of Mata Hari.
  • Canadian poet John Oughton published an account of Mata Hari's life from her point of view titled Mata Hari's Lost Words (Ragweed Press, 1988). Excerpts were performed as a one-act play at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
  • In the tenth book in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, Sunny Baudelaire says "'Matahari'...which means something like, 'If I stay here, I can spy on them and find out'".
  • The Red Dancer (A Life of Mata Hari) by Richard Skinner 2001
  • Diane Samuels' play, The True Life Fiction of Mata Hari (2001), deals with Mata Hari's interrogation and execution by the French military. It was first performed at the Palace theatre in Watford in March 2002.
  • In Stephen Schwartz's musical, Working, the character of Delores says she feels like Mata Hari.
  • Pat Shipman wrote a biography of Mata Hari, Femme Fatale (2007)
  • Major Thomas Coulson OBE (Officer of the British Empire) wrote a Book titled Mata Hari: Courtesan and Spy (1930) which is mostly based on inaccurate information.
  • Author Sam Waagenaar published the book The Murder of Mata Hari (1964, British edition. American edition, 1965 under the title Mata Hari) which is one if not the first accurate account of the life Mata Hari based on actual documentation, research, interviews with people who had known her as well as personal scrapbooks that Mata Hari had kept given to him by her personal maid Anna Lintjens. [This should probably stay, but needs to be de-POV-ed]
  • Mata Hari appears as a student-Goddess in the novel The Breath of Gods by French writer Bernard Werber.
  • In Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, Jack Salmon, the protagonist’s father, finds out his mother-in-law (Grandma Lynn) has an interest in Hal, a much younger man than her who is a friend of the family. She is making muffins at ten in the morning with pantyhose and makeup on while Hal works out in the yard in an undershirt. Noticing this, Jack asks her: ‘‘When will the love muffins be done, Mata Hari?’’
  • Signed, Mata Hari is a novel written by Yannick Murphy, published in 2007 (Little, Brown and Company), and purporting to tell the story of Mata Hari.
  • The New York City belly dancing performance group Sisters of Salome prsented a "fantasty belly dance" performance based on the myth of Mata Hari in 2007 (
  • In the alternate history novel The Bloody Red Baron, where Count Dracula survives to command the Central Powers during World War I, Mata Hari is one of the modern Brides of Dracula.
  • The Brazilian novel Twelve Fingers (O Homem que Matou Getúlio Vargas) by Jô Soares has the protagonist meeting and romancing Mata Hari aboard the Orient Express.


Anything that's just "the lyrics mention the words 'Mata Hari'" should generally go

  • Mr. Smolin's song, Mata Hari on his second album, "The Crumbling Empire of White People."
  • Nigel Clarke composed Three Symphonic Scenes for Concert Band entitled Mata Hari. Scene 1 is entitled 'Dancer in the Shadows', Scene 2 'Deceit and Seduction' and Scene 3 'Evasion and Capture'. The multi-award winning Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band, conducted by Peter Smalley, performed the British Premier of this piece in 2003.
  • One of Ofra Haza's songs is entitled Mata Hari and based on her. One of the song's lyrics is: "Like a butterfly, she crossed all the lines...Like a butterfly she dreamt, danced and died".
  • Mata Hari is mentioned in "Like It or Not", a song from Madonna's Confessions On A Dance Floor album. ("Cleopatra had her way, Mata Hari too. Whether they were good or bad, is strictly up to you. [...] You can't have the femme without the fatale. Please don't take offense.").
  • She is mentioned in the song "Shake Your Bon-Bon", a song by Latin singer Ricky Martin with the line "You're a Mata Hari...I want to know your story".
  • Another mention in music comes in the Mary Prankster song "Mata Hari", discussing the reaction of society to openly sexual women.
  • The song "As You Turn To Go" by The 6ths contains the lines "I know I'm not supposed to say I'm sorry, I know you've had more loves than Mata Hari."
  • Michael McDermott's song " So Close " includes the lyric's " you got the heart of Mata Hari, dancing crosstown for some prince, you never said you were sorry and now it makes no difference"
  • The Canadian ska band, The Kingpins, paid tribute to the spy in a song titled "Mata Hari" on their first full length album Watch Your Back.
  • Mata Hari is mentioned in the song "Genius" by the late Warren Zevon, on his 2000 album My Ride's Here, "Mata Hari had a house in France, where she worked on all her secret plans; Men were falling for her sight unseen, she was a genius".
  • The song "BYOS" by Regina Spektor mentions Mata Hari ("I met Mata Hari, She was in no hurry, The firing squad had their guns in the air.").
  • The song "From One Jesus to Another" by The Mission mentions Mata Hari with the line "And anyway, if it came to a choice, I'd take Mata Hari for my bride."
  • The musical Little Mary Sunshine has a number entitled "Mata Hari".
  • A musical entitled "Mata Hari" was originally intended to run on Broadway, but it flopped and disappeared after its out-of-town try-out. The musical was revived in 1995 by the York Theatre Company and was recorded. No further plans for Broadway productions of the show have eventuated.
  • Loved by a very small group of admirers, Norway represented in 1976 by Anna-Karina Ström, the song "Mata Hari" came in 17th during the Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague. It contains the lyrics "You walked away laughing and left them alone with their shame".
  • One of The Atomic Fireballs songs is entitled Mata Hari.
  • The song "Check The Ring, Yo" by MC Chris contains the lyrics "Matahari just got sorry, gotta roll like Katamari!"
  • In the Bone Machine press kit, Rip Tense in 1992, Tom Waits mentions that he cut out a verse about Mata Hari from the song "Dirt In The Ground" because the song was running long. He stated that "One of (the verses) was: Mata Hari was a traitor, they sentenced her to death/The priest was at her side and asked her if she would confess/She said, 'Step aside, Father, it's the firing squad again/And you're blocking my view of these fine lookin' men.'/And we're all gonna be dirt in the ground... That's what people say that were present, that just before the firing squad opened up she opened up her blouse a little bit, and then she winked, and then they took her down."[1]



In 1916 the renowned Dutch artist Isaac Israëls painted Mata Hari. His work of art is exhibited in the famous Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterlo, the Netherlands.


  • There was a video game Mata Hari by Loriciels, for Amstrad CPC (1988) and Atari ST (1989).
  • Mata Hari appears as a spy in the first two games of the Shadow Hearts video game series, under her true name, though Anglicised to Margarete Gertrude Zelle. In the first game, she also joins the party early on.
  • In the videogame Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater the character EVA is called a "regular mata hari" by the main character, Snake.
  • dtp entertainment will publish Mata Hari worldwide under the ANACONDA label, with a Q3 2008 release date set for Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
  • Mata Hari appears as a Great Spy unit in the Civilization IV expansion Beyond the Sword.
  • An enigmatic exotic dancer goes by the stage name of Mata Hari in the PC adventure game, Culpa Innata (2007).
  • There was a 1977 Bally Pinball Machine based on Mata Hari.

keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 14:20, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Moved the strike through to the whole games section. --OrbitOne (talk) 06:50, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

That works. Now that just leaves us with, well...still too much pop culture for my tastes! But I don't know how to prune it down any father without just throwing up my hands and removing everything... keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 11:57, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
How about we keep items that are either non-fictional, highly reviewed because of that specific role (Mata Hari) or created by someone who is in a cultural cannon? --OrbitOne (talk) 14:00, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to point out that there's a 2009 point-and-click adventure videogame called Mata Hari - Betrayal is only a kiss away (ref: ( -- (talk) 16:03, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Guilt and Innocence?[edit]

Surely it is of importance (assuming human life has value) to: 1. Discuss whether the French trial was a sham (as implied in the article - see the last sentence in the Trial and Execution section). A single sentence claiming that unsealed documents "...revealed that Mata Hari was innocent..." hardly suffices!!! 2. Either mention the fact she was a spy for the Central Powers (Germans) or that she was not (or no authoratative evidence exists..) *** in the INTRODUCTION ** ! Just my two bits, but I think its important enough, especially since the myth is that she WAS a spy. (talk) 17:20, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Dark skin?[edit]

Should we mention she had relatively dark skin for someone from Western or Northern European areas? It seems to me this is relevant because it's commonly cited as aiding her fictional potrayal as a Javanese exotic dancer (despite being Frisian) and may have also affected her life in Indonesia where she was sometimes perceived as being 'part native' by the colonial/European population and look down upon because of it [2] [3]. I've also seen suggestions that the general 'exotic'/'foreign' character resulting from both her skin colour and her carrier may have made the French and others involved in her demise even less sympathetic although I can't find a good source and realisticly being believed to be a spy in those days (war + time period) was never going to have a happy ending. Nil Einne (talk) 16:31, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Married name[edit]

Was Mata Hari formally known as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle MacLeod during her marriage, or did she drop her maiden name altogether? Also, did she keep her husband's last name after they got divorced? Esszet (talk) 00:43, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

1970s documents[edit]

I just removed the following material:

German documents unsealed in the 1970s proved that Mata Hari truly had been a German agent. In the autumn of 1915, she had entered the German secret service, and on orders of section III B-Chief Walter Nicolai, had been instructed about her duties by Major Roepell during a stay in Cologne. Her reports were to be sent to the Kriegsnachrichtenstelle West (War News Post West) in Düsseldorf under Roepell as well as to the Agent mission in the German embassy in Madrid under Major Arnold Kalle, with her direct handler being Captain Hoffmann, who also gave her the code name H-21.[1]

I removed this because the reference does not support what is started and on at least one point contradicts this material (specifically where she received the code name H-21). If there are other references to the documents released in the 70s feel free to put back in the supported material. I'd love to hear a legitimate summary of what they actually contain. However, until there is a source, given how poor the information is, I'm ready to doubt those documents exist at all, especially since I haven't seen reference to them in other things I've read about Mata Hari.

  1. ^ Adams, Jefferson (2009). Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence. Rowman&Littlefield. p. 290. ISBN 978-0-8108-5543-4.