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Carmen Miranda

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Biography

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Actor
Born:
February 9, 1909 in Marco de Canavezes, Lisbon, Portugal
Death:
August 5, 1955
Biography
Moviedom's "Brazilian Bombshell" was actually born in Portugal, but as a child Carmen Miranda moved with her large and prosperous family to Rio de Janeiro. That she became a popular musical comedy star is all the more remarkable when one realizes that Miranda was born with deformed feet and had to wear special "lifts" for her performances. Miranda was a well-established and much beloved Brazilian radio, stage, and film personality when, at age 30, she was brought to America by the Schubert Brothers to appear in the 1939 Broadway revue The Streets of Paris (which also served as the "legit" debut of former burlesque comics Abbott and Costello). She was signed to a long-term 20th Century-Fox contract in 1940, which proved a wise move when World War II dried up the European movie market, leaving South America as practically the only foreign outlet for Hollywood films. A flamboyant exponent of the "good neighbor" policy, Miranda sang and danced her way through a series of garish Fox musicals, the most outrageous of which was The Gang's All Here (1943), in which she sang "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat" while adorned with a seemingly gargantuan piece of fruit-laden headgear. When the demand for South-of-the-Border musicals petered out during the postwar era, Miranda began limiting her screen performances, spending more of her professional time with successful nightclub engagements. Off-screen, Miranda was a talented sketch artist and costume designer; she was also very active in charitable work, seeing to it that a generous percentage of her earnings were sent to the destitute in South America. After completing a strenuous dance number for a 1955 episode of TV's The Jimmy Durante Show, Miranda suffered a fatal heart attack; her death touched off widespread mourning throughout all of Latin America. The actress' memory is kept alive by the Carmen Miranda Museum in Rio De Janeiro. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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