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Carmen Miranda, pron. IPA: ['kaɾme͂j mi'rɐ͂dɐ], (February 9, 1909 – August 5, 1955); birth name Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha, GCIH) was a Portuguese-born Brazilian samba singer and motion picture star most active in the 1940s. She was later nicknamed Carmen by her father, because of his love of opera (specifically: Carmen from the opera by Bizet). The "Carmen legacy" was instrumental in synthesizing, divulging and popularizing Tropicalismo.
Carmen arrived in the United States in 1939 with her band, the Bando da Lua, and achieved stardom in the early 1940s. She was encouraged by the United States government in her American career as part of President Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, designed to strengthen links with Latin America and Europe; it was believed that in delivering content like hers, the policy would be better received by the American public. She was the country's highest-paid entertainer for several years in the 1940s, and in 1945, was the highest-paid woman in the United States, earning more than $200,000 that year, according to IRS records.
Carmen made a total of 14 Hollywood films between 1940 and 1953. As a singer, she sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. She was given the nickname "The Brazilian Bombshell".
Carmen’s Hollywood image was one of a generic Latinness that blurred the distinctions between Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico as well as between samba, tango and habanera. It was carefully stylized and outlandishly flamboyant. She was often shown wearing platform sandals and towering headdresses made of fruit, becoming famous as "the lady in the tutti-frutti hat." At only 5 feet tall (1,52 m), these accoutrements made her appear almost larger-than-life on screen.
The official cause of death given on her death certificate was from untreated toxemia (later known as pre-eclampsia), and heart failure stemming from a pregnancy. Her body was flown back to Brazil soon afterwards and the Brazilian government declared a period of national mourning. She was buried in the Cemitério São João Batista in Rio de Janeiro. Her funeral cortège, en route to the cemetery, was accompanied by about half a million people.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Carmen Miranda has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Boulevard.
Helena Solberg made a documentary of her life, Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business in 1995.