Famous Brazilians


Brazil has produced a number of well-known personalities that have made their mark on the modern world. These ones come from many different arenas, including sports, film, science, literature and politics. Just some of the best-known Brazilian personalities include:

Carmen Miranda
Born in 1909, this singer was known for her sultry samba as well as her acting on Broadway and in Hollywood. She was famous for the signature fruit hat that she wore in The Gang’s All Here (1943). In 1955, Carmen Miranda was performing live on The Jimmy Durante Show in Beverley Hills when, during a dance number, she collapsed. Although she recovered and continued with the performance, she died later that night of a second heart attack. Her body was flown back to Rio de Janeiro and approximately 60 000 people attended her mourning ceremony.

Paola Oliveira
Caroline Paola Oliveira da Silva is a gorgeous Brazilian actress that was born in 1982. She started out in commercials and has since moved on to star in Sônia and Insensato Coração for TV Globo. She also starred in the feature film, Entre Lençóis.

Oscar Niemeyer
This architect was born in 1907 and has earned international acclaim for his incredible designs. However, he is also famous for getting married to Vera Lucia Cabriera in 2006, at the impressive age of 99 years. His structures are characterised by their open, spacious nature, with the generous use of empty areas and unconventional patterns. Some of his buildings include the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion in Hyde Park, London, and the tombstone for Carlos Marighella in Salvador da Bahia.

Fernando Meirelles
Meirelles is a film director that has been nominated for an Academy Award, based on the Brazilian production of 2002, City of God. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for The Constant Gardener in 2005. He was born in 1955 in São Paulo, Brazil. His film, Blindness, was the opener for the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, an esteemed privilege.

Francisco Costa
Born in May 1964, this designer is best known for his contribution to Calvin Klein. He is the Women’s Creative Director for this collection and won the 2006 and 2008 Council of Fashion Designers America award in the category of Womenswear Designer of the Year.

Princess Isabel
Princess Isabel was born in 1846 and died in 1921. She was probably best known for officially approving of the abolition of slavery in Brazil. She lived in Rio de Janeiro, in the Palace of São Cristóvão and subscribed to Roman Catholicism.

Gisele Bündchen
Gisele Bündchen, born in Rio Grande do Sul in 1980, is best known for her pouty lips and long legs. She has made her mark on the modelling world and is respected as one of the world’s most desirable faces and bodies. She has also entered the acting arena and is a goodwill ambassador for the UN Environment Programme. She achieved much fame for her relationship with American actor, Leonardo di Caprio, but has since married New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.

Rubens Barrichello
Barrichello was born in 1972 and is one of the world’s top Formula One racing drivers. In fact, he became the world’s most experienced driver in Formula One history at the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix. In 2010, he also became the first driver to achieve 300 Grand Prix entries and 300 starts.

Edison "Edson" Arantes do Nascimento, known to most as Pelé, has been a World Cup Champion three times in his football career, making him one of the best known Brazilian sportsmen of all time. He was born in 1943 and was voted the Football Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) in 1999. He also works hard to implement policies that are aimed at social upliftment of the poor. He retired from football in 1977, but continues to act as an ambassador for this sport, his passion.

Miguel Nicolelis
While his name may not be known to the layman, Nicolelis is certainly one of the science world’s most respected figures. In fact, this neuroscientist was named one of Scientific American's best scientists in 2004. He was born in São Paulo in 1961 and is best known for his use of monkeys in a project that ultimately enabled them to detect the motor intent of the monkey and control different movements of a robotic arm accordingly. The robotic arm was then programmed to mimic the monkey’s movements. Eventually, the monkey realised that it could simply think about moving to get the robotic arm to move; it did not actually have to perform the action. Nicolelis was also instrumental in founding the International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal and, in 2011, was appointed (by Pope Benedict XVI) as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

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