Looking back at the career of “The Brazilian Bombshell” Carmen Miranda

Remembering the Lady In The Tutti Frutti Hat

Looking back at the career of “The Brazilian Bombshell” Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda was born on 9 February 1909 in Marco de Canaveses, Portugal and was a Portuguese-born Brazilian samba singer, dancer, Broadway actress, and film star who was popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. Miranda began her singing career in Brazil in 1929 where she was a major star before moving to the United States. In 1939, she performed on Broadway on which led to a Hollywood film career in 1940, with her first film “Down Argentine Way”. Nicknamed “The Brazilian Bombshell”, Miranda is noted for her signature fruit hat outfit she wore in her American films, particularly in 1943’s “The Gang’s All Here”. By 1945, she was the highest paid actress in the United States. Miranda made a total of fourteen Hollywood films between 1940 and 1953. Though hailed as a talented performer, her popularity waned by the end of World War II. She later grew to resent the stereotypical “Brazilian Bombshell” image she cultivated and attempted to break free of it with limited success. Undaunted, Miranda focused increasingly on her nightclub appearances, also becoming a fixture on television variety shows. For all the stereotyping she faced throughout her career, her performances made huge strides in popularizing Brazilian music, while at the same time paving the way for the increasing awareness of all Latin culture. On 4 August 1955, Miranda was shooting a segment for the filmed NBC variety series “The Jimmy Durante Show”. According to Durante, Miranda had complained of feeling unwell before filming. Durante offered to get Miranda a replacement but she declined. After completing a song and dance number, “Jackson, Miranda, and Gomez”, with Durante, she fell to one knee. Durante later said of the incident, “… I thought she had slipped. She got up and said she was outta breath. I tell her I’ll take her lines. But she goes ahead with ’em. We finished work about 11 o’clock and she seemed happy.” At around 4 a.m. the following day, Miranda suffered a second, fatal heart attack at her home in Beverly Hills. Miranda was only 46 years old.

By Ken Warren, 2017/18

Look back at Carmen Miranda singing “The Lady In The Tutti Frutti Hat”

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