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Hollywood's Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda remembered

By AFP

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

Scores of events are taking place in the city, including exhibits of Miranda's costumes, films, debates, concerts and even the unveiling of 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 early in the South American nation as a singer, and was soon whisked 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 United States and enjoyed wide popularity for her song-and-dance numbers, usually displaying a lot of leg and hats bedecked with fake fruit.

In Brazil, she was criticized 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.

Ultimately, though, she won over her home country.

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.

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