Birthdate: Tuesday, February 9th, 1909
Location: Marco de Canaveses, Portugal
Died: Friday, August 5th, 1955
Location: California, USA
Cause of death: Heart attack
Best known for: Singer, dancer, Broadway star and film actress who made it big on the big screen in the 1940s with films such as Down Argentine Way (1940) and The Gang's All Here (1943). She is particularly remembered for her fruit hat and extravagant appearance.
The Brazilian Bombshell became a massive star in the 1940s, being invited to sing for President Roosevelt, and becoming the highest paid woman in the United States in 1945 (in excess of $200,000). However, in the years following the war, Carmen's popularity waned, and she became frustrated with her constantly being labelled the "Brazilian Bombshell" when she felt she had much more to offer. Her career turned gradually away from movies and onto the television, appearing in variety spectaculars as well as returning to her roots performing in nightclubs.
|Carmen in her final film|
appearance, in 1953's
After completing recording on Scared Stiff, Carmen began a European tour, but once back in the US in October, she collapsed from exhaustion in Cincinnati. This led to her suffering from depression, and she underwent electroshock therapy in an effort to combat her mental illness. However, this did not seem to work, and she decided a return to her roots might help. She returned to Brazil in December 1954, but returned to the US the following April.
|Carmen, just hours before she died, with|
Jimmy Durante on his variety show,
August 5th, 1955 (aged 46)
|Carmen's body in its open coffin in Rio|
The Jimmy Durante Show featuring Carmen's very last performance, recorded just hours before her death, was broadcast on October 15th, 1955. Here it is in full: it's pretty low quality but the energy and fire she puts into her performance shows what a professional she was literally to the end.