“We want to restore the image of Carmen, who has had an incredible impact on Brazil,” says Fabiano Canosa, the curator of a Carmen Miranda exhibit being held at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro. “Carmen Miranda Forever” marks (a little belatedly) the fiftieth anniversary of Miranda's death, and is being billed as the largest Carmen Miranda exhibit ever. Included are more than 700 items, including clothing and jewelry, old records, magazines, and photographs.
Born in Portugal on February 9, 1909, but raised in Brazil, Miranda appeared in Brazilian films and onstage before heading to Broadway and then Hollywood, where she became a Fox contract player. Her first film was Down Argentine Way (1940), and she – along with the fruit salad she often wore on top of her head – stayed on at the studio until the mid-1940s.
Among her most popular films, invariably supporting American blondes Alice Faye, Betty Grable, and (reddish-blonde) Vivian Blaine, are That Night in Rio (1941), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), The Gang's All Here (1943), Something for the Boys (1944), and Greenwich Village (1944).
Miranda died of a heart attack on August 5, 1955, 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.
As an aside, one interesting thing about Carmen Miranda is that her rat-a-tat Portuguese is unlike anything I've ever heard, whether spoken by Brazilians or the Portuguese.