Born Margaretha Zelle, on August 7, 1876 in Leeuwarden, Mata Hari lived a very eventful but sad life. She married a Dutch officer who abused her and was often left to the charity of others to survive. She had two children, one who died under mysterious circumstances when the family was stationed in Java, Indonesia.
Mata Hari had a dark beauty which she exploited by performing her famous Shiva dance, a striptease, before a live audience in Paris. She was a big hit, and took her show on the road to many of Europe's capital cities. This brought her much fame, money and admirers.
Mata Hari's legendary beauty attracted many men, but she seemed most attracted to military officers, thus she was often in a position to hear of important secrets during WWI. She was accused of spying by both the French and the Germans. She may have also been a double agent, betraying her spymasters. Despite a lack of substantial proof of harming either country with her liasons, she was sentenced to death by a French military tribunal in 1917.