Monday, February 9, 2009

Carmen Miranda, 1909-1955

Today marks the 100th birth anniversary of of singer and actress Carmen Miranda. She only made about a dozen movies in Hollywood, most of which don't show up all that often because she worked at Twentieth Century-Fox. Talk to most people today, and she'd probably be more remembered not for having performed in the movies, but for the outfits she wore. Carmen Miranda was to hats what Busby Berkeley was to choreography. Miranda's hats were elaborate, giant constructions with fruit motifs that are the subject of parody even today.

In fact, that parody makes finding Carmen Miranda photos on the web a bit of a pain. There are a lot of photos out there of people dressing up in similarly-styled outfits, which the people putting them up on the internet understandably refer to by Miranda's name. Unfortunately, computer search engines can't distinguish between the actress and the imitators. Having said that, it all makes me wonder whether it's a curse to suffer such parody, or an honor. We all remember Miranda, but who remembers the female leads in the movies in which she made an appearance, such as The Gang's All Here (Fox musical star Alice Faye) or the dreadful If I'm Lucky (Vivian Blaine)?

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