Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda 9 February 1909 – 5 August 1955) was a Portuguese-born Brazilian[1] samba singer and Broadway actress popular in the 1940s and 1950s. She was, by some accounts, the highest-earning woman in the United States and recognized for her signature fruit hat outfit that she wore in the 1943 movie The Gang’s All Here. She is considered the precursor of Brazil‘s Tropicalismo.

Carmen Miranda was born in Várzea da Ovelha, a village in the northern Portuguese municipality of Marco de Canaveses.[1] She was the second daughter of José Maria Pinto Cunha (1887 – 1938) and Maria Emília Miranda (1886 – 1971).[2] When she was 10-months old, her father emigrated to Brazil[3] and settled in Rio de Janeiro, where he opened a barber’s shop. Her mother followed in 1910, together with her daughters Olinda and Maria do Carmo. Maria do Carmo never returned to Portugal, but retained her Portuguese nationality. In Brazil, her parents had four more children – Amaro (1911), Cecília (1913), Aurora (1915 – 2005) and Óscar (1916).[2]

She was christened Carmen by her father because of his love for the opera comique, and also after Bizet‘s masterpiece Carmen. This passion for opera influenced his children, and Miranda’s love for singing and dancing at an early age.[3] She went to school at the Convent of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Her father did not approve of her plans to enter show business. However, her mother supported her and was beaten when her husband discovered Carmen had auditioned for a radio show. Carmen had previously sung at parties and festivals in Rio. Her older sister Olinda contracted tuberculosis and was sent to Portugal for treatment. Miranda went to work in a tie shop at age 14 to help pay her sister’s medical bills. She next worked in a boutique, where she learned to make hats and opened her own hat business which became profitable.

“Chica Chica Boom Chic

Her extraordinary talent was discovered when Miranda was first introduced to composer Josué de Barros, who went on to promote and record her first album with a Brunswick, a German recording company in 1929. In 1930, she was known to be Brazil’s gem singer, and in 1933 went on to sign a two-year contract with Rádio Mayrink Veiga – becoming the first contract singer in the radio industry history of Brazil. In 1934, she was invited as a guest performer in Radio Belgrano in Buenos Aires.[3] Ultimately, Miranda wound up with a recording contract with RCA Records. She pursued a career as a samba singer for ten years before she was invited to New York City to perform in a show on Broadway. As with other popular singers of the era, Miranda made her screen debut in the Brazilian documentary A Voz Do Carnaval (1933). Two years later, Miranda appeared in her first feature film entitled Alô, Alô Brasil. But it was the 1935 film Estudantes that seemed to solidify her in the minds of the movie-going public. In the 1936 movie Alô Alô Carnaval, she performed the famous song Cantoras do Rádio with her sister Aurora, for the first time.[3]

Mamae Eu Quiero

Miranda signed a movie contract with Hollywood and arrived in the United States in 4 May 1939[3] with her band, the Bando da Lua. Carmen grew to fame in the country quickly, having formally been presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at a White House banquet shortly after arrival, and going on to star in 13 Hollywood films.[3] She was encouraged by the United States government as part of President Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, designed to strengthen links with Latin America and Europe; it was believed that in delivering content like hers, the policy would be better received by the American public. By 1946 she was Hollywood‘s highest-paid entertainer and top female tax payer in the United States,[3] earning more than $200,000 that year, according to IRS records.

Against her family’s wishes, she married in March 17, 1947 to failed American movie producer David Sebastian. He soon declared himself to be her “manager” and was responsible for many bad business deals. A heavy drinker, he got Miranda into drinking as well and is accused of eventually being her downfall. In 1948 she became pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage after a show. The marriage lasted only a few months, but Carmen, who was Catholic, would not accept getting a divorce. Her sister Aurora later would state in the documentary Bananas is My Business that “he was very rude, many times even hit her. The marriage was a burden in her life; he only married her for her money. He did not like our family”.

“Chattanooga Choo Choo” In Portuguese!!

Miranda made a total of fourteen Hollywood films between 1940 and 1953 and was dubbed “The Brazilian Bombshell”.[4] Her Hollywood image was one of a generic Latinness that blurred the distinctions between Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, and Mexico as well as between samba, tango and habanera. It was carefully stylized and outlandishly flamboyant. She was often shown wearing platform sandals and towering headdresses made of fruit, becoming famous as “the lady in the tutti-frutti hat.”[5] However there were times that Miranda performed barefoot on stage because she could move more easily in bare feet than in the towering platform sandals.

“When I Love I Love”

During a visit to Brazil in 1940, Miranda was heavily criticized for giving in to American commercialism and projecting a false image of Brazil. She responded with the Portuguese language song “Disseram que Voltei Americanizada“, or “They Say I’ve Come Back Americanized.” Another song, “Bananas is My Business,” was based on a line in one of her movies and directly addressed her image. She was greatly upset by the criticism and did not return to Brazil again for fourteen years.

After returning to the United States, Miranda made her final film appearance in the 1953 film Scared Stiff with Martin and Lewis.[6]

In the later years of her life, in addition to her already heavy smoking and alcohol consumption, Miranda began taking amphetamines and barbiturates, all of which took a toll on her body.[7]

On August 4, 1955, Miranda suffered a heart attack during a segment of the live TV show The Jimmy Durante Show, although she did not realize it. After completing a dance number (which was later aired on A&E Network‘s Biography episode about Miranda), she fell to her knees, and Durante instinctively told the band to “stop da music!”. He helped Miranda up to her feet as she laughed “I’m all out of breath!”. “Dat’s OK, honey, I’ll take yer lines”, Durante replied. Miranda laughed again and quickly pulled herself together, finishing the show. At the end of the broadcast, she smiled and waved, then exited the stage. She died later that night after suffering a second heart attack at her home in Beverly Hills.[8]

Her last performance

In accordance with her wishes, Miranda’s body was flown back to Rio de Janeiro where the Brazilian government declared a period of national mourning.[9] 60,000 people attended her mourning ceremony at the Rio town hall[3], and more than a half a million Brazilians escorted the funeral cortège to her resting place.[10] She is buried in the Cemitério São João Batista in Rio de Janeiro.[11]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Carmen Miranda has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Boulevard.

In his third album, Tropicalia, Caetano Veloso pays tribute to her in the lyrics of the titular song, “Viva a banda, -da, -da/Carmen Miranda, -da, -da, -da, -da.”

Helena Solberg made a documentary of her life, Carmen Miranda: Bananas is My Business in 1995.

Miranda’s enormous, fruit-laden hats are iconic visuals recognized around the world. These costumes led to Saks Fifth Avenue developing a line of turbans and jewelry inspired by Carmen Miranda in 1939. [12] Many costume jewelry designers made fruit jewelry also inspired by Carmen Miranda which is still highly valued and collectible by vintage and antique costume jewelry collectors. Fruit jewelry is still popular in jewelry design today. Much of the fruit jewelry seen today is often still fondly called “Carmen Miranda jewelry” because of this. Her image was much satirized and taken up as camp, and today, the “Carmen Miranda” persona is popular among drag performers. The style was even emulated in animated cartoon shorts. The animation department at Warner Brothers seemed to be especially fond of the actress’s image. Animator Virgil Ross used it in his short Slick Hare, featuring Bugs Bunny, who escapes from Elmer Fudd by hiding in the fruit hat. Bugsy himself mimics Miranda briefly in What’s Cookin’ Doc? Tex Avery also used it in his MGM short Magical Maestro when an opera singer is temporarily changed into the persona, fruit hat and all, via a magician’s wand.

1944 “I’m Just Wild About Harry”

Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso‘s album Batuque brings the period and several of Miranda’s early hits back to life in faithful style. Caetano Veloso paid tribute to Miranda for her early samba recordings made in Rio when he recorded “Disseram que Voltei Americanizada” on the live album Circuladô Vivo in 1992. He also examined her iconic legacy of both kitsch and sincere samba artistry in an essay in the New York Times. Additionally, on one of Veloso’s most popular songs, “Tropicalia”, Veloso sings “Viva a banda da da da….Carmem Miranda da da da” as the final lyrics of the song. Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett included a tribute to Carmen Miranda on his 1973 album A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, entitled “They Don’t Dance Like Carmen No More.” In the early 1970s a novelty act known as Daddy Dewdrop had a top 10 hit single in the US titled “Chick-A-Boom,” one of Carmen’s trademark song phrases, although the resemblance ended there. The band Pink Martini recorded “Tempo perdido” for their Hey Eugene! Album on 2007.

Brazilian author Ruy Castro wrote a biography of Carmen Miranda entitled Carmen, published in 2005 in Brazil. This book has yet to appear in English.

Visitors to Rio de Janeiro can find a museum dedicated to Carmen Miranda in the Flamengo neighborhood on Avenida Rui Barbosa. The museum includes several original costumes, and shows clips from her filmography. There is also a museum dedicated to her in Marco de Canaveses, Portugal called “Museu Municipal Carmen Miranda”, with various photos and one of the famous hats. Outside the museum there is a statue of Carmen Miranda.

A hot air balloon in her likeness was conceived in 1982 at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta by Jacques Soukup and Kirk Thomas. Named “Chic-I-Boom”, the craft was built by Cameron England, and was the first special-shaped hot-air balloon ever to fly at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The original Chic-I-Boom was retired from flight in 1996, and a new Chic-I-Boom was built by Aerostar. Chic-I-Boom’s bananas are each 50 feet long.

The singer Leslie Fish created a song called “Carmen Miranda’s Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three”, in which a space station is inundated with fresh fruit. A science fiction anthology later had the same title.

John Cale, a member of the Velvet Underground, issued a song called “The Soul of Carmen Miranda” on his album Words for the Dying.

A suburb in Sydney, Australia called “Miranda” has a night club called “Carmens” thus being Carmens (in) Miranda.

Some time ago, I saw an interview with Alice Faye as the guest. Alice said that 20th Century Fox had entered into a rather boring period and they were looking to breathe some new life into the studio. Carmen Miranda burst onto the scene. Alice Faye said she was a bundle of energy and despite her “hokey” appearance and crazy costumes, she was extraordinarily talented and a very savvy business woman. She was exactly what the studio was looking for and everyone there welcomed her. No wonder Carmen Miranda quickly rose to the status of highest paid female celebrity in the country.

Sources:,, youtube, wikipedia

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Quick Bio Facts:

Carmen MirandaCarmen Miranda

AKA Maria do Carmo Miranda Da Cunha

Born: 9-Feb1909
Birthplace: Marco de Canavezes, Portugal
Died: 5-Aug1955
Location of death: Beverly Hills, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Cemitério São João Batista, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Bisexual
Occupation: Dancer, Musician

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The lady in the tutti-frutti hat

Father: José Maria Pinto da Cunha (barber)
Mother: Maria Emília Miranda da Cunha (homemaker)
Sister: Olinda (b. 1907)
Brother: Mario (b. 1911)
Sister: Cecília (b. 1913)
Sister: Aurora Miranda (actress, b. 20-Apr-1915)
Brother: Oscar (b. 1916)
Husband: David Sebastian (m. 17-Mar-1947, until her death)

Nervous Breakdown
Risk Factors: Depression

It’s All True (15-Oct-1993) Herself [VOICE]
Scared Stiff (27-Apr-1953)
Nancy Goes to Rio (10-Mar-1950)
A Date with Judy (21-Jun-1948)
Copacabana (1-Nov-1947)
If I’m Lucky (2-Sep-1946)
Doll Face (Jan-1946)
Something for the Boys (1-Nov-1944)
Greenwich Village (27-Sep-1944)
Four Jills in a Jeep (17-Mar-1944) Herself
The Gang’s All Here (24-Dec-1943)
Springtime in the Rockies (6-Nov-1942)
Week-End in Havana (8-Oct-1941)
That Night in Rio (11-Apr-1941)
Down Argentine Way (11-Oct-1940) Herself

Official Website:


Year Film Role Notes
1933 A Voz do Carnaval Herself at Rádio Mayrink Veiga
1935 Alô, Alô, Brasil
Estudantes Mimi
1936 Alô Alô Carnaval
1939 Banana-da-Terra
1940 Laranja-da-China
Down Argentine Way Herself
1941 That Night in Rio Carmen
Week-End in Havana Rosita Rivas
Meet the Stars #5: Hollywood Meets the Navy Herself Short subject
1942 Springtime in the Rockies Rosita Murphy
1943 The Gang’s All Here Dorita Alternative title: The Girls He Left Behind
1944 Greenwich Village Princess Querida
Something for the Boys Chiquita Hart
Four Jills in a Jeep Herself
1945 The All-Star Bond Rally Herself (Pinup girl)
1946 Doll Face Chita Chula Alternative title: Come Back to Me
If I’m Lucky Michelle O’Toole
1947 Copacabana Carmen Novarro/Mademoiselle Fifi
1948 A Date with Judy Rosita Cochellas
1950 Nancy Goes to Rio Marina Rodrigues
1953 Scared Stiff Carmelita Castinha
Year Title Role Notes
1949 The Ed Wynn Show Herself 1 episode
1951 What’s My Line? Mystery Guest 1 episode
1951-1952 The Colgate Comedy Hour Herself 2 episodes
1953 Toast of the Town Herself 1 episode
1955 The Jimmy Durante Show Herself 2 episodes

Astrud Gilberto

Astrud Gilberto (born March 29, 1940) is a Brazilian singer known for her samba and bossa nova music, most famously as the vocalist on the Grammy Award-winning song “The Girl from Ipanema“.

Astrud Gilberto was born as Astrud Weinert, the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a German father, in the state of Bahia, Brazil, and was raised in Rio de Janeiro. In 1959, she married João Gilberto, later emigrating to the United States in 1963. They eventually divorced in the mid-1960s, after she had an affair with her husband’s musical partner, Stan Getz.[1]

She sang on the influential album Getz/Gilberto featuring João Gilberto, Stan Getz, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. She had never performed professionally, and sang on the recordings at the suggestion of her (then) husband, João Gilberto.

Gilberto’s recording of “The Girl from Ipanema” established her as a jazz and pop singer. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[2] In 1964, Gilberto appeared in the films Get Yourself a College Girl and The Hanged Man. Her first solo album was The Astrud Gilberto Album (1964). Upon moving to the United States, she went on tour with Getz.[1] Beginning as a singer of bossa nova and American jazz standards, Gilberto started to record her own compositions in the 1970s. Her repertoire includes “The Shadow of Your Smile“, “It Might As Well Be Spring“, “Love Story”, “Fly Me to the Moon“, “Day by Day“, “Here’s That Rainy Day“, and “Look to the Rainbow”. She has recorded songs in Brazilian Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.

Astrud singing the song that started the “bossa nova” craze… Antonio Carlos Jobim’s, “The Girl From Ipanema” 1964

In 1982, Gilberto’s son Marcelo joined her group, and toured with her for more than a decade as her group’s bassist. In addition to working as a bassist, he collaborated as co-producer of the albums Live in New York (1996) and Temperance (1997). Son Gregory Lasorsa played on the Temperance album, playing the guitar on her song “Beautiful You”, which features singer Michael Franks.

Astrud Gilberto / Stan Geltz collaboration on Jobim’s, “Corcovado” (Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars”

Gilberto received the “Latin Jazz USA Award for Lifetime Achievement” in 1992, and was inducted to the “International Latin Music Hall of Fame” in 2002. Although not officially retired, Gilberto announced in 2002 that she was taking “indefinite time off” from public performances. She is also a fine artist, and an ardent advocate of animal rights.[3]

Gilberto’s original recording of the song “Fly Me to the Moon” was edited as a “duet” using a recording of the same song by Frank Sinatra for the soundtrack of Down with Love (2003). Her recording “Who Can I Turn To” was sampled by the Black Eyed Peas in the song “Like That” from the album Monkey Business. Her vocals on “Berimbau” were sampled by Cut Chemist in his song “The Garden”. Her recording of the song “Once I Loved” was featured in the 2007 film Juno.

Unusual recording of Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto performing the Rodgers & Hammerstein song from the musical, State Fair, “It Might As Well Be Spring”

The “Astrud” track on Basia Trzetrzelewska‘s 1987 album Time and Tide is a tribute to Gilberto.

Recommended Recordings

Source: Wikipedia

Alternate Bio from and

Astrud Gilberto, known as “The Girl from Ipanema” and often referred to as “The Queen of Bossa-Nova”, is an artist with roots firmly planted in Brazilian music. Her music has become an interesting combination of the sensual rhythms of Brazil and American Pop and Jazz.

Born in the Northeast of Brazil, in the state of Bahia, one of three sisters of a German father and a Brazilian mother, Astrud grew up in Rio de Janeiro. She immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s, where she resides since then.

Astrud was first introduced to the World at large in 1964 through “The Girl From Ipanema”, the Grammy-winning recording with Stan Getz and her then-husband João Gilberto (the father of Bossa Nova). The fact that Astrud seldom grants interviews made it possible for many untruthful versions on how her guest appearance in the Getz & Gilberto album came about to be printed here and there, such as that she was “discovered” by Creed Taylor, or by Stan Getz, or yet, by Jobim, when the only truth is that she was invited to participate in the album by João Gilberto, who has great admiration for her singing talents.

Astrud’s recordings exposed the nations of the World to the sensuality of Brazilian music and to her unique vocal interpretations of American music, such as “The Shadow of your Smile”, “It Might as well be Spring”, “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Look to the Rainbow” (from her album of the same title, with Gil Evans), “Love Story”, etc…

Following the hit with “Ipanema”, her recording career quickly took off. Her first solo effort, “The Astrud Gilberto Album”, was an immediate best-seller and was itself nominated as album of the year. Her next albums were all chart-toppers and were released on a yearly schedule. Her talents were much in demand in other areas as well as she appeared in two motion pictures, “The Hanged Man” and “Get Yourself a College Girl” and also recorded the soundtrack for “The Deadly Affair”, arranged by Quincy Jones. She made appearances in all of the popular US television shows of the time, and had TV specials built around her in Europe, Japan and Africa. For many years she was the voice of Eastern Airlines, having recorded award-winning commercials.

Astrud singing, “Aqua De Beber. Performing with the Antonio Carlos Jobim Orchestra in Nice.

In the early seventies Astrud revealed another facet of her talents, her songwriting, which was introduced on the albums “Astrud Gilberto Now” (1972) and “That Girl From Ipanema” (1977). On the “That Girl from Ipanema” album Astrud recorded one of her songs, “Far Away” (with lyrics by Hal Shaper), as a duet with the legendary Chet Baker. As she has revealed in interviews, this was one of the most rewarding events of her career, since Chet has been one of Astrud’s idols dating back to her teenage years. In 1976, one of her compositions, “Live Today” (co-written with Jerome Schur), received an award at the Tokyo Music Festival.

In the early eighties, Astrud Gilberto formed a group, a sextet comprised of piano, bass, drums, trombone, guitar and percussion. Her son, Marcelo Gilberto, joined her group as bassist. With this group format, she toured Europe, Japan, Canada, and the United States. With the aid of Marcelo’s valuable musical contributions, she polished the group’s arrangements and entered a different phase in her career, as her music became more diversified and her songwriting more prolific. Her shows, from the beginning of her career up to her last public appearance (2001), have been usually sold out and at many venues she has broken the house record in attendance. Seeking for a way to overcome her stage fright, which was sometimes overwhelming, Astrud attended the Stella Adler School of Acting, for a couple of years, in the early eighties. The experience was helpful. Although still shy, Astrud learned to control the stage fright to the extent that she can “live with it”.

Her album “Astrud Gilberto Plus The James Last Orchestra”, released in 1987, solidified her career as songwriter. The album includes a few of her own original compositions of which “Champagne & Caviar”, “Amor e Som” and “I’m nothing without you” (Astrud’s lyrics to A.C. Jobim’s melody) are best known. The release of this album combined with the reissuing of some of her early records as CDs has created a whole new generation of fans for Astrud Gilberto all over the world, in addition to her already large number of followers. The “Astrud Gilberto Plus the James Last Orchestra” album was extremely well received by critics, as well as fellow artists.

In 1990, Astrud Gilberto, along with her sons Marcelo Gilberto and Gregory Lasorsa, formed Gregmar Productions, Inc. In the years that followed, Astrud toured extensively, developing her live show and writing new material.

In 1992, Astrud received the “Latin Jazz USA Award for Lifetime Achievement” for her outstanding contribution to Latin jazz music.

In 1995, the first project by Gregmar studios was released on an album as tribute to Jobim on the label Ps Flag/BMG (“Heirs To Jobim”). The song, “Forever Green”, one of Jobim’s last compositions before passing away, features saxophonist Michael Brecker. In that same year, in a sold-out Thursday night appearance, Astrud Gilberto became the first “Jazz” Artist to sing at the trendy “House of Blues” in Los Angeles, which had until then presented Blues and Rock acts, exclusively. She has also broken house records at the very popular “Jazz Cafe” club in London.

In early 1996 the first album from Gregmar was released in the Asian territories, including Japan, on the Pony Canyon label. It is comprised of various live performances recorded in NYC in 1989, for which is called “Astrud Gilberto – Live in New York”.

The “Desafinado” duet with George Michael, in the Fall of 1996 included on the “Red Hot & Rio” album, gained international attention, and exposed the Bossa Nova style to a large number of Pop music fans. “Desafinado” has also been included on George Michael’s 1999 release “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Best of George Michael”.

Also in 1996, Astrud recorded a duet with the famous European vocalist, French Pop star, Ettienne Daho. The song, “Les Bordes de Seine”, included on Daho’s “Eden” album, was co-written by Daho and Gilberto and was particularly well received by “Hip-Hop” fans.

In late 1997, a studio album (also by Gregmar Productions), produced by Astrud and Marcelo Gilberto, was released in the Asian territories by the Pony Canyon label. Comprised entirely of Astrud Gilberto’s original compositions (with the exception of just one American standard), the album bears the title of “Temperance”. Yet to be released outside of Asia, the album features guests Michael Franks and the New York Voices. Astrud is particularly proud of this work, because it is a labor of love. Both of her sons, Greg and Marcelo perform on it.

Astrud Gilberto’s sold-out performances at the “House of Blues”, and her legendary shows at NYC’s SOB’s continued to be musical “happenings” to her fans up until 2001, when she decided to take indefinite time off the “road”, in order to be able to spend more time with her family, and do more writing and painting (she is also a fine art artist (click here to view some of her artwork).

Astrud’s style has been a strong influence in contemporary music. Many artists have revealed the fact that they have been inspired by her musical style, among them: Basia (who recorded a tribute to Astrud, a song named “Astrud”), Sade, Sinead O’Connor, Michael Franks, Pat Metheney, and Suzanne Vega. Several “avant-garde” groups have also professed having Astrud as their “inspiring muse”.

Astrud’s work as songwriter has gradually but surely developed from a “side thing” in the beginning of her career, to an integral part of it, in the later years.  Since the mid-eighties, her live shows featured a large number of her own original compositions, to which audiences have been just as receptive as they have always been to old standards such as “The Girl from Ipanema”, “One Note Samba”, or “Quiet Nights”.

Astrud Gilberto’s 2002  “Jungle” album release, is a showcase of Astrud’s songwriting, as it features ten original new compositions.

In April of 2002 Astrud Gilberto has been inducted to the “International Latin Music Hall of Fame”.

In November of 2008, Astrud Gilberto was awarded by the Latin Recording Academy the “Lifetime Achievement” Grammy Award.