Filled Under: Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda, nicknamed the “Brazilian Bombshell”, was a Portuguese born Brazilian samba singer, Broadway actress, and Hollywood film star very popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. She was born Feb, 9, 1909 in Portugal and moved with her family to Rio de Janero, Brazil when she was still an infant. As a child she loved to sing and as she grew into her teens she was discovered and given a job singing on a local radio station in Rio. That led to an eventual contract with RCA and by 1928 Carmen Miranda was a full fledged star. Throughout the 1930’s Miranda churned out musical hits and made several movies in Brazil, proving she was an accomplished actress as well as a singer and performer. She signed a Hollywood contract and came to the United States in 1939. Her first Hollywood movie, “Down Argentine Way” in 1940, with Betty Grable and Don Ameche was a huge success. The only complaint from the public and critics alike was that she wasn’t on the screen enough. From 1940 to 1953, Miranda made 14 Hollywood movies. Her musical routines in which she wore a costume with a hat decorated with fruit became what she was most known and loved for. Reportedly, she was the highest earning female star during the mid to late 40’s in the United States. Her last movie was “Scared Stiff”, made in 1953, was with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
On August 4, 1955 she suffered a heart attack while doing a live broadcast on the “Jimmy Durante Show” which aired on NBC. At the time she wasn’t aware it was a heart attack and after a brief rest was able to finish the show. After the show she returned to her home where she died of a massive heart attack early the next morning on August 5, 1955. Miranda’s body was flown back to Rio de Janero. The day of her funeral was declared a national day of mourning in Brazil. Sixty thousand people attended her mourning ceremony at the Rio town hall, and more than half a million Brazilians escorted the funeral procession to the cemetary where she was buried.