Jul 23, 2009
The Often-Imitated Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda, the Brazillian Bombshell: unique, vivacious and topped with fruit. She is best known for being a giddily cheerful representative of Brazil in a series of colorful Fox Studios musicals in the 1940’s. Though Miranda was often second banana to stars like Alice Faye and Betty Grable, she was easily as memorable as whoever topped the marquee. Her songs, like her English, were a mixture of South American hot and North American snap (check out her version of Chatanooga Choo Choo). Though her elaborate costumes were the most memorable thing about her, it is a testament to her charm that those piles of jewelry, bright swaths of fabric and towering hats never overwhelmed her. Miranda’s costumes and enthusiastic performances have inspired innumerable impressions over the years. Check out these seriously silly versions of Mamãe eu quero.
Here’s Miranda singing her version of the song in her first Fox musical That Night in Rio (1941):
Lucille Ball terrorizes Ricky with her Miranda impression in this 1951 episode of I Love Lucy:
Jerry Lewis dons Miranda drag (to fill in for Carmen Miranda!) and tangles with another unruly record player in Scared Stiff (1953):
Even Tom and Jerry get into the act! Here’s a kitten doing his best Miranda in Baby Puss (1943):
Mickey Rooney also does a great Miranda impression in Babes on Broadway (1941), but I couldn’t find a clip.