Miranda, Carmen: Movie Star–Singing and Dancing with Fruit Hats

Rio de Janeiro is paying homage to Carmen Miranda, the 1940s Hollywood star who, more than anybody, gave Brazil a worldwide reputation for dancing and fruit hats.

Many events are taking place in the city, including exhibits of Miranda’s costumes, films, concerts and even the unveiling of a life-sized statue in honor of “The Brazilian Bombshell”. The celebration marks Miranda’s birth 100 years ago, on February 9, 1909, in Portugal.

Miranda, who moved with her family to Brazil as a child, achieved fame in the South American nation as a singer, and was soon brought to the United States where her international career took off.

At the height of her career as a singer and actress, Miranda became the top-earning woman in the country and enjoyed wide popularity for her song-and-dance numbers, usually displaying hats bedecked with fake fruit.

At the time, she was criticized in Brazil for her dancing style that had little to do with samba, and for giving a Hollywood take on what Brazilian tropical tunes were thought to sound like.

After she died of a heart attack in 1955, following a period of amphetamine abuse, half a million people turned out for her funeral procession to a Rio cemetery.

Rio’s authorities in 1976 opened the Carmen Miranda Museum, holding 3,500 objects that belonged to the diva, including clothes, jewelry, costumes, shoes, photos and posters.