Carmen Miranda (1909 - 1955)

A photo of Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda
1909 - 1955
February 9, 1909
Marco de Canaveses, Porto District, Portugal
August 5, 1955
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Other Names
Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha, The Brazilian Bombshell
Carmen Miranda was born on February 9, 1909 in Marco de Canaveses, Porto District, Portugal. She is the child of José Maria Pinto Da Cunha and Maria Emilia Miranda Da Miranda. She died on August 5, 1955 in Beverly Hills, California, United States at 46 years of age.
Updated: August 18, 2022
Carmen Miranda was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha on February 9, 1909, near Porto, Portugal, in the town of Marco de Canavezes. Not long after her birth her family moved to Brazil, where her father was involved in the produce business. The family settled in the then-capital city of Rio de Janeiro. After leaving school, Carmen got a job at a local store, and began singing on the job. Before long she was discovered and got a singing job on a local radio station. She ultimately got a recording contract with RCA. By 1928 she was a genuine superstar in Brazil. As with other popular singers of the era, she eventually made her way into the film world. She made her debut in the Brazilian documentary A Voz do Carnaval (1933). Two years later she appeared in her first feature film, Alô, Alô, Brasil (1935). However. it was Estudantes (1935) that seemed to solidify Carmen in the minds of the Brazilian movie audiences. Now they realized she could act as well as sing. Although there was three years between "Alo, Alo Carnaval" and Banana-da-Terra (1939), Carmen continued to churn out musical hits in Brazil. The latter film would be the last in her home country. In late 1939 Carmen arrived, with much fanfare in the press, in New York City. She was now ready to capture Americans' hearts with her talent. She appeared in some musical revues on Broadway and, just as everyone thought, was a huge hit. In 1940 Carmen was signed to appear in the Twentieth Century-Fox production Down Argentine Way (1940), with Betty Grable and Don Ameche. The only complaint that critics had was the fact that Carmen was not on the screen enough. In 1941 she was again teamed with Ameche in addition to Alice Faye in That Night in Rio (1941). The film was extremely popular with the theater patrons. Her unique songs went a long way in making her popular. It was after Weekend in Havana (1941) that American cartoon artists began to cash in on Carmen's ever-growing popularity. In the 1930s and 1940s cartoons were sometimes shown as a prelude to whatever feature film was showing. Sure enough, the cartoon version of Carmen came wriggling across the screen, complete with her trademark fruit hat and wide, toothy grin. In 1942 Carmen starred in Springtime in the Rockies (1942) with Betty Grable and Cesar Romero, both of whom she had worked with before. It was shortly after this that America began adopting her style of dress as the latest fad. 1944 saw her in three films: Something for the Boys (1944), Four Jills in a Jeep (1944) and Greenwich Village (1944). The first two did well at the box-office, but the last one left a lot to be desired. It was her last busy year in film. Carmen made one film each in 1945, '46, '47 and '48. After that she didn't make a film for two years, until Nancy Goes to Rio (1950), a production for MGM. Once again she didn't make a film for several years, returning with Scared Stiff (1953). She did stay busy, singing on the nightclub circuit and appearing on the relatively new medium of television. However, "Scared Stiff" was her final performance on the silver screen. On August 4, 1955, she suffered a heart attack, although she didn't realize it at the time, during a video taping of The Jimmy Durante Show (1954). She went home after attending a party. Early the next morning, on August 5, Carmen suffered a fatal heart attack. She was just 46 years old. Her body was flown to her adopted country of Brazil, where her death was declared a period of national mourning.
Show & Tell Her Story
Share your memories, stories, and photos so that Carmen is always remembered.
Update biography

Carmen's biography

This collaborative biography is for you to show & tell Carmen's life so that she is always remembered. What's this?

Carmen Miranda
Most commonly known as
Carmen Miranda
Full name
Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha, The Brazilian Bombshell
Other names or aliases
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California United States
Last known residence
Carmen Miranda was born on in Marco de Canaveses, Porto District Portugal
Carmen Miranda died on in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California United States
Heart attack
Cause of death
August 1955
Cemitério São João Batista Botafogo. in Município de Rio de Janeiro., Rio De Janeiro Brazil
Burial / Funeral

Ethnicity & Lineage

Carmen was born in Portugal but her family migrated to Brasil, where she was raised and began her career. She later moved to the United States where she had a successful film and television career. Carmen died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

Nationality & Locations

Where was Carmen born and where did she live?


Carmen attended school in Brazil.


She was a practicing Catholic so she did not divorce her husband who was a brute to her.


Was Carmen baptized?


The intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Orange Drive was named Carmen Miranda Square. [September 1998] In the 1940s, she was the highest paid star and performer in the United States. The Lady with the Tutti-Frutti Hat in Hollywood musicals of the 1940s. See her at her sparkling best as the cheeky Rosita Murphy in the gorgeous Technicolor Springtime in the Rockies (1942), in which, without the slightest effort, she virtually steals every scene she's in - upstaging even the film's [nominal] star, Betty Grable. She appeared in the 1939 Broadway revue, "Streets of Paris", in which she introduced the song "South American Way". Sister of actress Aurora Miranda (born 1915), Olinda da Cunha (born 1907), Amaro da Cunha (born 1911), Cecília da Cunha (born 1913) and Oscar da Cunha (born 1916). Jimmy Buffett made her the subject of a song called "They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More". The song appeared on his album "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean" (1973). Leslie Fish made Carmen Miranda, or rather her ghost, the subject of a song called "Carmen Miranda's ghost is haunting Space Station Three". There is also a book by that name, containing a collection of short stories. The only connection between the stories is that each have to do with the title. Her contract with 20th Century Fox specified that there would be no cutting away from her to reaction shots and/or dialog from other players while her musical numbers were in progress. Daughter of José Maria Pinto da Cunha (1887-1938) and Maria Emília Miranda (1886-1971). She was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960. Pictured on one of five nondenominated USA commemorative stamps honoring Latin Music Legends, issued on 16 March 2011; price on day of issue was 44¢. The other stamps honored Tito Puente, Selena, Carlos Gardel and Celia Cruz. Following her sudden death, she was flown back to Rio de Janerio according with her wishes, and was interred at San Joao Batista Cemetery. To date (2016), she was the only Brazilian to have their hand - and footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater. Though this was not widely known by her fans, she refused to wear panties forcing the camera to do very careful filming. Although born in Portugal, she considered herself Brazilian deep down.

Personal Life

Carmen Miranda was a young hat maker before she was invited to display her singing talents at a music academy. That attempt proved successful and she went on to become a popular singer in clubs and on radio in Brazil. It was during this time that she developed the costume with the distinctive fruit hat from the traditional headdress seen on black women fruit sellers. In the mid-thirties, a theatrical producer named Lee Shubert saw her act in Brazil and offered her a spot on his new Broadway show. Knowing the need for a real Brazilian band to keep the appropriate music true, she insisted that her backup band be included in the deal. With the help of the Brazilian government who saw the good national image opportunity in Carmen, her demand was met. She proved to be a hit on Broadway, though her image was that of a foreign bimbo because she didn't know English. She later made films, but by then much of Brazil thought she became too "Americanized". When the US entered World War II, South America became the subject of American diplomatic attention, because it was an alternative source for raw materials that previously came from Europe. Carmen was the showpiece of Hollywood's contribution to this attitude of trans-Continental chumminess. Unfortunately, in doing so, Carmen became trapped in the image of the fruit dancer that every producer insisted on having. Even her attempt at a break-out role in Copacabana had to have her doing the same dance act for part of the film. It proved to be a disaster in many ways since it failed and she married the producer of the film, David Sebastian. He proved to be an abusive and opportunistic brute who made Carmen's life hell. Yet Carmen was a good Catholic and never considered a divorce. Instead she kept up a grueling schedule of shows, taking uppers and downers to remain functional, even when they began to damage her health. Eventually she collapsed and her doctor ordered her to go back to Brazil. She recovered and returned to America to resume the grind until she died of a heart attack hours after her final appearance on the Jimmy Durante Show. Spouse (1) Dave Sebastian (17 March 1947 - 5 August 1955) ( her death)

Military Service

Did Carmen serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with her life?

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Looking for a different Carmen Miranda?
View other bios of people named Carmen Miranda

Family Tree

Carmen's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Miranda family tree.


Friends can be as close as family. Add Carmen's family friends, and her friends from childhood through adulthood.

Add bio


Leave a comment to ask questions, share information, or simply to show that you care about Carmen.

Daniel Pinna commented on Feb 09, 2021
The Brazilian Bombshell!!


Share Carmen's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

Carmen Miranda ORIGINAL NAME Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha BIRTH 9 Feb 1909 Marco de Canavezes, Marco de Canaveses Municipality, Porto, Portugal DEATH 5 Aug 1955 (aged 46) Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA BURIAL Cemitério São João Batista Botafogo, Município de Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil PLOT Alea 5 - n.1724E-1 MEMORIAL ID 1588 · View Source Renowned Actress, Dancer, and Singer. Born in Marco de Canavezes, Portugal, her family moved to Brazil when she was still a toddler. She was singing at her hatmaking job as a teenager when she was discovered by a local promoter. She began singing on local radio and secured a recording contract with RCA, soon becoming a major Brazillian star. Miranda made her United States debut in 1939, singing and dancing in several well-received Broadway revues and nightclub performances. Her first film, "Down Argentine Way," was released in 1940 to good notices, and would be followed with such films as "Weekend in Havana," "Springtime in the Rockies," "Something for the Boys," "Four Jills in a Jeep," "Copacabana," and "Scared Stiff." She would also make regular television appearances and live appearances, almost always in her often-copied fruit hat and distinctive dress. She died of a heart attack after performing a dance number on a Jimmy Durante TV show. Parents José Maria Pinto da Cunha 1887–1938 Maria Emilia Miranda da Miranda Cunha 1886–1971 Spouse David Alfred Sebastian 1908–1990 Siblings Aurora Miranda 1915–2005

1909 - 1955 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Carmen's lifetime.

In 1909, in the year that Carmen Miranda was born, the U.S. penny was changed to the Abraham Lincoln design. The Lincoln penny was so popular that it soon had to be rationed and it sold on the secondary market for a quarter. Abraham Lincoln was the first historical figure to be on a U.S. coin - which was released to commemorate his 100th birthday. This penny was also the first U.S. cent to include the words "In God We Trust.".

In 1914, by the time she was merely 5 years old, in August, the world's first red and green traffic lights were installed at the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland Ohio. The electric traffic light had been invented by a policeman in Salt Lake City Utah in 1912.

In 1924, she was merely 15 years old when Macy's department store in New York held its first "Thanksgiving parade" on November 27th at 9a - during church services but leaving plenty of time to attend the big football game between Syracuse and Columbia universities. The parade was held as a way to promote the opening of the “World’s Largest Store” and its 1 million square feet of retail space in Manhattan’s Herald Square. The parade was 6 miles long and included floats, Macy's employees dressed as clowns, cowboys, and sword-wielding knights, and animals from Central Park Zoo. Santa Claus, of course, brought up the rear - opening the Christmas shopping season for Macy's.

In 1947, she was 38 years old when in June, the Marshall Plan was proposed to help European nations recover economically from World War II. It passed the conservative Republican Congress in March of 1948. After World War I, the economic devastation of Germany caused by burdensome reparations payments led to the rise of Hitler. The Allies didn't want this to happen again and the Marshall Plan was devised to make sure that those conditions didn't arise again.

In 1955, in the year of Carmen Miranda's passing, in January, President Eisenhower sent direct aid to South Vietnam. In February, U.S. advisors were sent to train troops.

Other Biographies

Other Carmen Miranda Biographies

Other Miranda Family Biographies

Back to Top