***We're looking for contributors***

Carmen Miranda Costume & Memorabilia Exhibition + Gay Icon Ivor Novello Revisited

Carmen Miranda costume: Rio Museum of Modern Art Brazilian Bombshell memorabilia exhibitionCarmen Miranda costume: the so-called “Brazilian Bombshell” in typical churchgoing garb of the period – subdued colors and only the most modest of accoutrements. The “Carmen Miranda Forever” exhibition at Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art will be showcasing all sorts of memorabilia relating to the “Mamãe Eu Quero” and “The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat” performer.

Carmen Miranda costume & other memorabilia get Rio showcase

“We want to restore the image of Carmen, who has had an incredible impact on Brazil,” says Fabiano Canosa, the curator of “Carmen Miranda Forever,” an exhibition being held this December 2005 at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro.

Marking (a little belatedly) the fiftieth anniversary of Miranda's death in August 1955, “Carmen Miranda Forever” is being billed as the largest Miranda exhibition ever. Included are more than 700 items, among them costumes and jewelry, old records, magazines, and photographs.

Carmen Miranda became an international screen legend following singing, dancing, and “r”-rolling appearances as various South of the Border Chitas, Rositas, and Queridas in a series of tropical-flavored, enjoyably vapid, Hollywood Technicolor movies of the 1940s, which, on the downside, mostly failed to make full use of Miranda's warm, exuberant personality and first-rate comic timing.

From Rio to Broadway

Born on Feb. 9, 1909, in a village in the vicinity of the northern Portuguese town of Marco de Canaveses, Carmen Miranda was raised in Rio de Janeiro, to where her family had emigrated while she was still an infant.

She began singing on the radio in the late 1920s, and a few years later was seen – at times accompanied by her younger sister Aurora Miranda – on the Rio stage and in musical numbers in a handful of Brazilian movies (e.g., Alô Alô Brasil, Banana-da-Terra). Next she performed on Broadway, which led to a 20th Century Fox contract.

Hollywood's 'Carmen Miranda Costume': Brazilian Bombshell

Carmen Miranda's first Fox movie was Irving Cummings' Down Argentine Way (1940), featuring the Brazilian import as a “specialty” attraction singing “Mamãe Eu Quero” and “South American Way.”

Along with her frilly, colorful costumes and the fruit salad she often wore atop her head, Miranda, nicknamed the Brazilian Bombshell, would remain at the studio until 1946. During that time, she was almost invariably seen as generic characters – usually with Hispanicized names – from somewhere south of the Rio Grande.

With the exception of a few elaborate musical numbers, her movies were equally generic. They gave her plenty of opportunity to sing (sometimes in Portuguese) and dance, but little opportunity to act apart from raising her eyebrows as she's about to lose her temper, or delivering lines in her unique rat-a-tat manner.

If that weren't all, the actual romantic leads in these star vehicles were Fox's all-American blondes Alice Faye, Betty Grable, and (strawberry blonde) Vivian Blaine.

Carmen Miranda costume: Brazilian Bombshell as generic South of the Border characters in Fox musicalsCarmen Miranda costume. In her dozen Hollywood movies, Brazilian import Carmen Miranda was cast as generic South of the Border characters notable for their colorful, partly edible costumes; long, shiny lips and eyelashes; and zestfully accented machine-gun-like line delivery. Despite Miranda's undeniable popularity, her movies' leading men John Payne, James Ellison, and Don Ameche hooked up not with her, but with all-American blondes Alice Faye, Betty Grable, and (strawberry blonde) Vivian Blaine.

Carmen Miranda movies

Below is a list of Carmen Miranda's Hollywood movies. All but the last four were 20th Century Fox releases. Every title between 1940 and 1944 was in Technicolor.

Also in color were Miranda's two Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films, A Date with Judy and Nancy Goes to Rio.

  • Down Argentine Way (1940).
    Dir.: Irving Cummings.
    Cast: Betty Grable. Don Ameche. Carmen Miranda. Charlotte Greenwood. J. Carrol Naish. Henry Stephenson.
  • That Night in Rio (1941).
    Dir.: Irving Cummings.
    Cast: Alice Faye. Don Ameche. Carmen Miranda. S.Z. Sakall. J. Carrol Naish. Curt Bois.
  • Week-End in Havana (1941).
    Dir.: Walter Lang.
    Cast: Alice Faye. John Payne. Carmen Miranda. Cesar Romero. Cobina Wright Jr.
  • Springtime in the Rockies (1942).
    Dir.: Irving Cummings.
    Cast: Betty Grable. John Payne. Carmen Miranda. Cesar Romero. Charlotte Greenwood. Edward Everett Horton. Harry James.
  • The Gang's All Here (1943).
    Dir.: Busby Berkeley.
    Cast: Alice Faye. Carmen Miranda. James Ellison. Sheila Ryan. Charlotte Greenwood. Phil Baker. Benny Goodman. Eugene Pallette.
  • Greenwich Village (1944).
    Dir.: Walter Lang.
    Cast: Carmen Miranda. Vivian Blaine. Don Ameche. William Bendix.
  • Something for the Boys (1944).
    Dir.: Lewis Seiler.
    Cast: Carmen Miranda. Vivian Blaine. Michael O'Shea. Phil Silvers. Sheila Ryan. Glenn Langan.
  • Doll Face (1945).
    Dir.: Lewis Seiler.
    Cast: Vivian Blaine. Dennis O'Keefe. Perry Como. Carmen Miranda. Martha Stewart. Stephen Dunne.
  • Copacabana (1947).
    Dir.: Alfred E. Green.
    Cast: Groucho Marx. Carmen Miranda. Steve Cochran. Gloria Jean.
  • A Date with Judy (1948).
    Dir.: Richard Thorpe.
    Cast: Jane Powell. Wallace Beery. Elizabeth Taylor. Carmen Miranda. Robert Stack. Xavier Cugat. Scotty Beckett.
  • Nancy Goes to Rio (1950).
    Dir.: Robert Z. Leonard.
    Cast: Ann Sothern. Jane Powell. Barry Sullivan. Carmen Miranda. Louis Calhern. Scotty Beckett.
  • Scared Stiff (1953).
    Dir.: George Marshall.
    Cast: Dean Martin. Lizabeth Scott. Jerry Lewis. Carmen Miranda. George Dolenz. Dorothy Malone.

Death at age 45

Carmen Miranda's last film appearance was what amounted to a cameo in the 1953 Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy Scared Stiff.

She died of a heart attack on Aug. 5, 1955, in Beverly Hills – a day after suffering a minor attack during a taping of The Jimmy Durante Show. She was buried in Rio, where her hearse was accompanied by a crowd of 500,000.

Dec. 30 update: Carmen Miranda's younger sister, Aurora Miranda, whose handful of film credits include Phantom Lady and The Three Caballeros (in which she wears a more discreet Carmen Miranda costume in the Bahiana style), died at age 90 on Dec. 22.

Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art website.

Ivor Novello: Could British stage icon have become the Rudolph Valentino of 1930s?Ivor Novello ca. mid-to-late 1920s. A gay icon of the British stage, the Welsh-born playwright-composer-actor Ivor Novello was also one of the top British film performers of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Among his most notable big-screen star vehicles are Graham Cutts' box office hit The Rat (1925), with the Mediterranean-looking Novello as a Rudolph Valentino type, and two Alfred Hitchcock silents: The Lodger (1927), about a man who may or may not be a Jack the Ripper-like serial killer, and Downhill (1927), in which Novello runs the gamut from wholesome rugby-playing schoolboy to degenerate musical hall-dancing gigolo.

Ivor Novello hit 'The Rat' at the 2005 Cardiff Screen Festival

“No Cardiff-born screen actor has ever been remotely as popular at the British box office as Ivor Novello,” says author Dave Berry (Wales and Cinema: The First 100 Years) in the WalesOnline article “Novello Could Have Been a Hollywood Star.”

Cardiff locals were able to check out the playwright-composer-actor's 1925 big-screen foray The Rat at the Cardiff Screen Festival (website) last Nov. 12.

Based on the 1924 Paris-set hit play The Rat: The Story of an Apache, credited to David L'Estrange (a combo pseudonym for both Novello and actress Constance Collier), the film was directed by Graham Cutts for Michael Balcon's Gainsborough Pictures.

The dark and (when required) brooding Novello stars as a Rudolph Valentino type, the low-life “apache” Pierre Boucheron – brutal, ruthless, and irresistible to women. Two of these females are Mae Marsh (Novello's co-star in his one American silent film, The White Rose) and, like Novello, hailing from the stage version, Isabel Jeans (best remembered as Leslie Caron's Aunt Alicia in Vincente Minnelli's Gigi).

Ivor Novello's face

As found in Bruce Babbington's British Stars and Stardom: From Alma Taylor to Sean Connery, Pierre's caddish but alluring behavior led one reviewer to write, “anyone with a face like Ivor Novello must apparently be forgiven everything!”

Moviegoers were apparently more than eager to love him unconditionally. The Rat was so successful – according to Berry, taking in £80,000 (approximately $5 million in 2005) while it cost only £18,000 (approx. $1.1 million in 2005)[1] – that it would be followed by two sequels: The Triumph of the Rat (1926) and The Return of the Rat (1929), both also directed by Graham Cutts and featuring Isabel Jeans.

Hollywood failure

A leading figure on the London stage, Ivor Novello (born David Ivor Davies on Jan. 15, 1893; Novello was his mother's family name) was brought to Hollywood by D.W. Griffith to play the young pastor who seduces and abandons Mae Marsh (two years before The Rat) in the 1923 romantic melodrama The White Rose.

Unfortunately for Novello, things didn't go too well between the Father of the American Cinema and his Welsh import even though The White Rose is one of the best – possibly the best – Griffith film of the decade.

Following a lawsuit against the filmmaker, who had reportedly reneged on his contract to feature Novello in three movies, the actor returned to Britain.

Another Hollywood foray in the early 1930s, via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, resulted in only one role: Ruth Chatterton's leading man in Guthrie McClintic's Once a Lady (1931), while on loan to Paramount.

'Rudolph Valentino for the '30s'?

“Novello's work is uneven, with the scripts (usually by others) distinctly variable – but given the right roles in Hollywood he had the looks, dash and elan to become a Rudolph Valentino for the '30s,” Dave Berry affirms. “All we can do is reflect on what he might have achieved later in the sound era …”

Everything is possible, though by 1934, when Ivor Novello retired from films altogether, he was already past 40. Besides, unlike most top male Hollywood stars of the 1930s, e.g., Clark Gable, James Cagney, Ronald Colman – and including urbane types like Charles Boyer, Warren William, and William Powell – Novello lacked a strong masculine presence.

Ivor Novello The Rat: Songwriter librettist playwright and stage + film starIvor Novello in The Rat. Best known as a songwriter, librettist/playwright, and stage actor, Ivor Novello succeeded in transferring his West End popularity to British cinema, starring in about 20 films from the early 1920s to the mid-1930s. Although not as well remembered as the Alfred Hitchcock-directed The Lodger, The Rat (1925) was one of Novello's biggest successes. Based on a hit play Novello himself had co-written and starred in, the Paris-set drama features the “Keep the Home Fires Burning” and “And Her Mother Came Too” composer as a rough, tough, unscrupulous criminal, who, thanks to his Rudolph Valentino-like allure, also happens to be a magnet to women.

Ivor Novello movies

Ivor Novello was featured in more than 20 movies; as per Dave Berry's piece, six of them are lost. Besides The White Rose and The Rat, his most notable films, all in the U.K., were the following:

  • Charles Calvert's Bonnie Prince Charlie (1923), in the title role. Stage star and later Hollywood supporting player Gladys Cooper (Now Voyager, My Fair Lady) played the prince's cohort, Flora MacDonald.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's thriller The Lodger (1927), in which Novello, in the title role, may or may not be a serial killer à la Jack the Ripper. Hitchcock's best-known silent would be less successfully remade by Maurice Elvey in 1932 – known as either The Lodger or The Phantom Fiend – with Novello reprising (with a “Continental” accent) his titular role. A pre-Hollywood Elizabeth Allan was his leading woman.
  • Downhill / When Boys Leave Home (1927), another Hitchcock effort, featuring the somewhat fey, 34-year-old Novello as a rugby-playing schoolboy. Based on a play by David L'Estrange (Novello & Collier), Downhill seems to refer to the trajectory of said schoolboy, who grows into a theater actor and, later on, a “gigolo” at a Paris music hall. Once again, Isabel Jeans was Novello's leading woman.
  • Adrian Brunel's The Constant Nymph (1928), with Novello as the married, music-composing object of passion of sexually blossoming teenager Mabel Poulton – who, as the story progresses, becomes the much more mature man's object of attraction as well. (Poulton was actually in her mid-20s at the time.)
  • Brunel's The Vortex (1928), from a play by Ivor Novello's British stage “gay rival” Noël Coward. U.S. Broadway actress Willette Kershaw was the leading lady.
  • In the sound era, Maurice Elvey's I Lived with You (1933), which Berry calls Novello's best big-screen showcase. A romantic comedy originally written (as a play) by the star himself, I Lived with You features him as a penniless Russian prince handing out advice to the members of the bourgeois family with whom he has found a home. Also in the cast: Ursula Jeans as the prince's love interest and a teenage Ida Lupino.
  • Anatole Litvak's Sleeping Car (1933), another romantic comedy, this time with Novello as a sleeping-car attendant with a girl in every station – until he becomes matrimonially entangled with wealthy, blonde, and beautiful widow and future Alfred Hitchcock heroine Madeleine Carroll (The 39 Steps, Secret Agent).
  • Basil Dean's Autumn Crocus (1934), which marked Ivor Novello's final big-screen appearance. In this romantic melodrama predating Arthur Laurents' similarly themed 1952 play The Time of the Cuckoo[2], Novello was cast as a married Tyrolean innkeeper who becomes emotionally involved with visiting English schoolteacher Fay Compton.

Gay stage & screen idol

Although Ivor Novello's (gay) sexual orientation seems to have been an open secret in British show business, it sure didn't hinder in any way or form the popularity of his stage musicals.

Among them were Glamorous Nights (1935), The Dancing Years (1939), King's Rhapsody (1949), and Gay's the Word (1951), the last of which came out the year of Novello's death.

Lover Robert Andrews & 'Gosford Park'

After suffering a coronary thrombosis, Ivor Novello died at age 57 on March 6, 1951.

Minor stage and film actor Robert Andrews (1895–1976) had been Novello's – apparently non-exclusive – companion for 35 years. Among Andrews' handful of screen appearances were those in the silent films The Warrens of Virginia (1924) and Fascinating Youth (1926); on stage, he was featured in various Novello productions, notably playing the prime minister in King's Rhapsody.

In Robert Altman's Oscar-nominated Gosford Park (2001), Jeremy Northam portrays Novello at around the time of The Lodger's talkie remake.

'The Rat' box office & 'Summertime'

[1] Regarding The Rat's box office, it's unclear whether the £80,000 amount reflects the film's gross take or Gainsborough Pictures' net revenue, domestic or worldwide.

The inflation-adjusted figures were based on the pound-to-dollar conversion in 1925, and on the U.S. Department of Labor's inflation calculator.

[2] David Lean's film version of The Time of the Cuckoo, Summertime, came out in 1955. Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi were the romantic leads.

Charlotte Rampling Twice Upon a Time. Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear jury presidentCharlotte Rampling in Twice Upon a Time: Veteran international cinema actress to head Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear jury. In movies beginning in the mid-1960s (The Knack… and How to Get It, Georgy Girl), Charlotte Rampling has been a steady toiler since then, being featured in leads and top supporting roles in more than 50 big-screen releases on both sides of the North Atlantic. These range from Luchino Visconti's rococo The Damned and Liliana Cavani's gloomy The Night Porter to Woody Allen's -esque Stardust Memories and Sidney Lumet's box office hit The Verdict, and on to François Ozon's Under the Sand and Swimming Pool.

Charlotte Rampling to head Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear jury

British actress Charlotte Rampling will preside over the International Competition Jury of the 2006 Berlin Film Festival. Referring to Rampling as a “fascinating woman and brilliant artist,” Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick expressed his pleasure in having on board an actress who “has come to stand for unconventional and memorable cinema.”

During her 40+-year career, Rampling – who has lived in France most of her life – has appeared in almost 70 films, most notably:

  • Luchino Visconti's Nazi era-set The Damned (1969), supporting Helmut Berger, Dirk Bogarde, and Ingrid Thulin.
  • Liliana Cavani's Nazi era-set The Night Porter (1974), costarring Dirk Bogarde.
  • John Boorman's sci-fi fantasy Zardoz (1974), opposite a colorfully clad Sean Connery.
  • Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980), as one of the women (along with Marie-Christine Barrault and Jessica Harper) in the life of troubled, -esque filmmaker Allen.

More Charlotte Rampling movies

Here are a few more Charlotte Rampling movies of the last two decades:

  • Sidney Lumet's The Verdict (1982), in which she delivers a first-rate performance as the woman who becomes involved with down-on-his-luck attorney Paul Newman.
  • Alan Parker's supernatural suspense drama Angel Heart (1987), with Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet.
  • Gianni Amelio's family drama The Keys to the House (2004), opposite Kim Rossi Stuart.
  • François Ozon's Under the Sand (2000) and Swimming Pool (2003). In the latter film, the 57-year-old Rampling has a memorably daring moment, lying fully naked in bed while Ozon's camera lingers on her.

The French-based Rampling has never been nominated for an Academy Award or a BAFTA, but she has been shortlisted for three Best Actress Prix César: He Died with His Eyes Open (1986), Under the Sand (2001), and Swimming Pool (2003). Additionally, in 2001 she was handed an Honorary César for the bulk of her film career.

This year, Charlotte Rampling has been nominated for the Jameson People's Choice Best European Actress Award for her work in Dominik Moll's Lemming. The winner will be announced at the Dec. 3 European Film Awards ceremony in Berlin.

Berlin Film Festival website.


Carmen Miranda costume images: Publicity shots ca. early 1940s.

Ivor Novello The Rat image: Gainsborough Pictures.

Charlotte Rampling Twice Upon a Time image: Gaumont / Columbia TriStar Films.

Carmen Miranda Costume & Memorabilia Exhibition + Gay Icon Ivor Novello Revisited © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about 'Carmen Miranda Costume & Memorabilia Exhibition + Gay Icon Ivor Novello Revisited'


Don't waste time and energy disagreeing with and/or being deeply offended by the presentation of factual information.

On the other hand, it's perfectly okay to disagree with and/or be deeply offended by the views & opinions found on this site. And to let us know about any omissions or, heaven forbid, errors.

Just bear in mind that *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative.

In other words: Feel free to add something reasonable & coherent – AND fact-based – to the discussion.

Spammy, abusive/bigoted, trollish/inflammatory, baseless (spreading misinformation, whether intentionally or not), and/or just plain demented comments will be zapped and offenders may be banned.

And finally, links found in comments will generally be deleted.

Most recent comments listed on top.

3 Comments to Carmen Miranda Costume & Memorabilia Exhibition + Gay Icon Ivor Novello Revisited

  1. Austin Burbridge

    The Carmen Miranda Museum (Museu Carmen Miranda) in the Flamengo neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro is small but curated with love. Mostly it is a gallery of her costumes. She was such a *giant* of entertainment — it is startling to see that the garments were made for a *tiny* person.

  2. Nono

    Sou familiar da carmen miranda prima em 4º grau tenho uma obsessão por sua musica e pela sua beleza!

  3. Joni Giarratano

    I taught an Art class using my memory of Carmen Miranda and hercostume, as one I always wore as my costume for Halloween. NO one in the class knew who I was talking about ! I need a photo of her to show them , next time , just how beautiful she was ! I can't seem to download the photo that accompanies this article !…HELP?