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Danielle Mitterrand dies; ex-first lady of France

French first lady Danielle Mitterrand, left, talks with

French first lady Danielle Mitterrand, left, talks with Kurdish refugees on the Iran-Iraq border on April 25, 1991. The wife of the late Francois Mitterand died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 in Paris. She was 87. Photo Credit: Getty Images

PARIS - Well before the Occupy movement took on Wall Street, Danielle Mitterrand was leading the charge against capitalist excess. Such resistance defined the life of Mitterrand, who died Tuesday at 87.

The widow of France's first Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand, she had a bully pulpit during his 14 years in office to advocate for many left-leaning causes. She supported Marxist rebels in El Salvador, ethnic minorities, and vociferously opposed capitalist excess. She created several charities and crisscrossed the world in defense of human rights.

Yet she kept quiet for years about an aspect of her personal life: a secret relationship her husband had had with Anne Pingeot, the mother of his long-secret daughter.

Francois Mitterrand died less than a year after leaving office in 1995.

At age 19 during World War II, Danielle went underground with the French Resistance. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her work against the Nazi occupation of France, and met her future husband.

She is survived by two sons.

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