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Carmen Miranda Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (12)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 9 February 1909Marco de Canavezes, Portugal
Date of Death 5 August 1955Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameMaria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha
Nickname The Brazilian Bombshell
Height 5' (1.52 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Carmen Miranda was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha on February 9, 1909, near Porto, Portugal, in the town of Marco de Canavezes. Not long after her birth her family moved to Brazil, where her father was involved in the produce business. The family settled in the then-capital city of Rio de Janeiro. After leaving school, Carmen got a job at a local store, and often began singing on the job. Before long she was discovered and got a singing job on a local radio station. She ultimately got a recording contract with RCA. By 1928 she was a genuine superstar in Brazil. As with other popular singers of the era, she eventually made her way into the film world. She made her debut in the Brazilian documentary A Voz do Carnaval (1933). Two years later she appeared in her first feature film, Alô, Alô, Brasil (1935). However. it was Estudantes (1935) that seemed to solidify Carmen in the minds of the Brazilian movie audiences. Now they realized she could act as well as sing. Although there was three years between "Alo, Alo Carnaval" and Banana-da-Terra (1939), Carmen continued to churn out musical hits in Brazil. The latter film would be the last in her home country. In late 1939 Carmen arrived, with much fanfare in the press, in New York City. She was now ready to capture Americans' hearts with her talent. She appeared in some musical revues on Broadway and, just as everyone thought, was a huge hit. In 1940 Carmen was signed to appear in the Twentieth Century-Fox production Down Argentine Way (1940), with Betty Grable and Don Ameche. The only complaint that critics had was the fact that Carmen was not on the screen enough. In 1941 she was, again, teamed with Ameche in addition to Alice Faye in That Night in Rio (1941). The film was extremely popular with the theater patrons. Her unique songs went a long way in making her popular. It was after Week-End in Havana (1941) that American cartoon artists began to cash in on Carmen's ever-growing popularity. In the 1930s and 1940s cartoons were sometimes shown as a prelude to whatever feature film was showing. Sure enough, the cartoon version of Carmen came wriggling across the screen, complete with her trademark fruit hat and wide, toothy grin. In 1942 Carmen starred in Springtime in the Rockies (1942) with Betty Grable and Cesar Romero, both of whom she had worked with before. It was shortly after this that America began adopting her style of dress as the latest fad. 1944 saw her in three films: Something for the Boys (1944), Four Jills in a Jeep (1944) and Greenwich Village (1944). The first two did well at the box-office, but the last one left a lot to be desired. It was her last busy year in film. Carmen made one film each in 1945, '46, '47 and '48. After that she didn't make a film for two years, until Nancy Goes to Rio (1950), a production for MGM. Once again didn't make a film for several years, returning with Scared Stiff (1953). She did stay busy, singing on the nightclub circuit and appearing on the relatively new medium of television. However, "Scared Stiff" was her final performance on the silver screen. On August 4, 1955, she suffered a heart attack, although she didn't realize it at the time, during a live broadcast of The Jimmy Durante Show (1954). She went home after attending a party (she neither drank or smoked). Early the next morning, on August 5, Carmen suffered a fatal heart attack. She was just 46 years old. Her body was flown to her adopted country of Brazil, where her death was declared a period of national mourning.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Carmen Miranda was a young hatmaker before she was invited to display her singing talents at a music academy. That attempt proved successful and she went on to become a popular singer in clubs and on radio in Brazil. It was during this time that she developed the costume with the distinctive fruit hat from the traditional headdress seen on black women fruit sellers. In the mid-thirties, a theatrical producer named Lee Shubert saw her act in Brazil and offered her a spot on his new Broadway show. Knowing the need for a real Brazilian band to keep the appropriate music true, she insisted that her backup band be included in the deal. With the help of the Brazilian government who saw the good national image opportunity in Carmen, her demand was met. She proved to be a hit on Broadway, though her image was that of a foreign bimbo because she didn't know english. She later made films, but by then much of Brazil thought she became too "Americanized". When the US entered World War II, South America became the subject of American diplomatic attention, because it was an alternative source for raw materials that previously came from Europe. Carmen was the showpiece of Hollywood's contribution to this attitude of trans-Continental chumminess. Unfortunately, in doing so, Carmen became trapped in the image of the fruit dancer that every producer insisted on having. Even her attempt at a break-out role in Copacanba had to have her doing the same dance act for part of the film. It proved to be a disaster in many ways since it failed and she married the producer of the film, David Sebastian. He proved to be an abusive and opportunistic brute who made Carmen's life hell. Yet Carmen was a good Catholic and never considered a divorce. Instead she kept up a grueling schedule of shows, taking uppers and downers to remain functional, even when they began to damage her health. Eventually she collapsed and her doctor ordered her to go back to Brazil. She recovered and returned to America to resume the grind until she died of a heart attack hours after her final appearance on the Jimmy Durante Show.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Kenneth Chisholm <cchisholm@bfree.on.ca>

Spouse (1)

Dave Sebastian (17 March 1947 - 5 August 1955) (her death)

Trade Mark (4)

Was best known for her musical numbers where she wore a costume featuring a hat decorated with fruit.
Portuguese accent
High cheek bones
Enthusiastic personality

Trivia (12)

The intersection of Hollywood Bl. and Orange Drive, was named Carmen Miranda Square. [September 1998]
In the 40s she was the highest paid star/ performer in the USA.
The "Lady with the Tutti-Frutti Hat" in Hollywood musicals of the 1940s. See her at her sparkling best as the cheeky "Rosita Murphy" in the gorgeous Technicolor Springtime in the Rockies (1942), in which, without the slightest effort, she virtually steals every scene she's in - upstaging even the film's [nominal] star, Betty Grable!
She appeared in the 1939 Broadway revue, "Streets of Paris", in which she introduced the song "South American Way".
Sister of actress Aurora Miranda (b.1915), Olinda (b.1907), Amaro (b.1911), Cecília (b.1913) and Oscar (b.1916).
She was the subject of a Jimmy Buffett song called, "They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More"
Carmen Miranda, or rather her ghost, is the subject of a song by Leslie Fish called "Carmen Miranda's ghost is haunting Space Station Three". There is also a book by that name, containing a collection of short stories. The only connection between the stories is that each have to do with the title.
Her contract with 20th Century Fox specified that there would be no cutting away from her to reaction shots and/or dialog from other players while her musical numbers were in progress.
Daughter of José Maria Pinto da Cunha (1887-1938) and Maria Emília Miranda (1886-1971).
Mother Maria Emilia Miranda 1886-1971.
Pictured on one of five nondenominated USA commemorative stamps honoring Latin Music Legends, issued on 16 March 2011; price on day of issue was 44¢. The other stamps honored Tito Puente, Selena, Carlos Gardel, and Celia Cruz.
Although born in Portugal, considered herself Brazilian at heart.

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