2011 44¢ Carmen Miranda
Latin Music Legends
Issue Date: March 16, 2011
City: Austin, TX
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Carmen Miranda was an amazing sight on stage – petite (under five feet), wearing platform shoes with up to 8-inch heels, and topped by headgear made of bananas and other fruit. She was the “lady in the tutti-frutti hat,” whose performances helped set the stereotype of the hot-blooded Latina woman.
Miranda (1909-1955) was born in Portugal and grew up in Brazil. Her first album in 1929 soon made her a national star. Miranda created her own costumes, inspired by fruit-sellers in the streets of Bahia (a Brazilian province). The same region gave rise to the samba music she helped popularize, which originally was a dance style set to prayer music.
After 10 years as Brazil’s leading entertainer, Miranda starred in the 1939 Broadway show, The Streets of Paris. She returned to Brazil, but faced heavy criticism for being “too American.” Moving back to the U.S., Miranda starred in war-era films such as The Gang’s All Here and Copacabana.
Miranda was a smash hit in America – in 1945 she became the top-paid woman in the U.S., making over $200,000. But she still faced criticism for being too commercial. She responded with a song titled “Bananas is My Business.” Miranda collapsed during a live performance of The Jimmy Durante Show in 1955. She died early the next day, at age 46.