TODAY’S PORTRAIT: HIBISCUS, BABY!

And now for something COMPLETELY different — La Hibiscus!

Look at that hibiscus go!

Talk about in-your-face!  No shrinking violet she. Her philosophy is, If you’ve got it, flaunt it! A hot-blooded lady from the tropics, our hibiscus is right out there. In her gorgeous color, her glamorous pose, her whole exotic demeanor, she reminds me of a floral Carmen Miranda.

You’re mostly young things out there, I can hear you now:  Carmen who?

Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian Bombshell, the lady in the tutti-frutti hat — still doesn’t ring a bell, does it? She was a Brazilian singer and dancer who was popular from the 1930’s until the 1950’s on Broadway and in Hollywood. In 1940, she made her first Hollywood film, “Down Argentine Way“, with Don Ameche and Betty Grable. Her exotic looks, flamboyant clothes, Latin accent, and outrageous hats heaped with fruits and vegetables became her trademarks. And, like the hibiscus flower, she was a real charmer.

Wikipedia reports that in 1945 she was the highest-paid woman in the United States. Her dazzling, dizzy song and dance numbers provided much-needed relief during the hard years of World War II. 

I remember her from the movies in the 1940’s, when I was just old enough to clutch my quarter and head off with friends to a Saturday matinee. (Those quarter matinees, by the way, included two movies, both the feature and a B-movie to go with it, a newsreel, a serial, and several cartoons. Not bad, huh.) Because I haven’t seen or thought of her for decades, I went to Youtube to check her out. After all, things can play brilliantly in memories of long-ago that, seen again, fall flat in the present. 

But not in this case! She really was a star. There are lots of Youtubes I could have picked to show you. It was a tough choice. But I think I’ll go with this one, and if you like what you see, you can try some others yourself. Here she is, as brilliant and outrageous and charming as a hibiscus flower:

The movie is Week-end in Havana (1941), starring Alice Faye and John Payne. (Don’t remember them either, I suppose!) As in most of her movies, Carmen Miranda appears as her starry self in a night club scene (or two or three) to entertain the lead actors in their romantic drama. They don’t make movies like this any more! Just as well, perhaps. Nevertheless, maybe you can see why the brilliant flower makes me think of this brilliant performer —

 

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35 Responses to TODAY’S PORTRAIT: HIBISCUS, BABY!

  1. Her skirt looks like it’s drenched in hibiscus! And yes I remember them all. 😉

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  2. WOW! Your Hibiscus and Carmen Miranda – simply “temperamentvoll”! Oh yes, I can see why Carmen M. came into your mind. Again – an interesting post, full of charm with a wonderful photo.
    Love it! Love the video, werde meinen Tag temperamentvoll starten!
    Dear Judith, I really enjoyed “meine kleine Reise” through your flowering posts! It looks as we have the same “friends” in our garden and as we see them with “same eyes”. A real pleasure!
    Wish you a wonderful flowering summer,
    herzlichen Gruss aus dem Périgord, karin

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  3. mybrightlife says:

    I know who Carmen Miranda is because as a child, when VHS arrived here, my Mom would only let us watch old classics – Fred and Ginger etc…so a bit of Carmen Miranda was thrown into the mix.
    When we were little though, we would take the fallen hibiscus flowers, remove the petals and find the sticky bit right in the middle. This part (I don’t remember enough biology to name it correctly), but anyway, has one flat sticky side and one pointy side – a bit like a pixie hat. We took great delight in running around with these stuck onto our noses. Go figure…kids!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I love your comment, because when we were kids in Brooklyn, halfway around the world (or more?), we would do the same sort of thing with the seed cases that twirled down from the maple trees. We’d pry the half-wings apart and stick them on our noses, just like you guys. We called them “polly noses”!
      It’s also fascinating that you were watching those nice old classics because your mom considered them suitable — and so they were. But C.M. was considered pretty risqué first time around the block!

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  4. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I saw a great performance of Carmen 20 years ago!

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  5. Well put; “…if you’ve got it, flaunt it!” 🙂 I remember lots of movies from this era, just not this one. Recognized her name too.

    My mum had hibiscus as potted, indoor plant … and she was very careful about them. Then, in 1978, we went to Florida on a trip, she and I. We were in awe to see them growing outdoors … big!

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  6. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Sorry! Couldn’t help myself; you said “Carmen Miranda” and my mind went straight to Carol Burnett and Charo; )
    She is gorgeous btw – your hibiscus – reminds me of our (oh-so-long-ago) holiday in St Lucia. And just look at all of those lovely little landing strips(stripes; ) to guide pollinators to her sweet spot…

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Ho ho! All that beauty, and it’s functional too!
      The sweet spot of the hibiscus, love the concept, Joss!
      Thanks for coming by! Now I have to search on Youtube for Carol Burnett doing a Carmen Miranda —

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      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Well, I HOPE it was supposed to be Carmen Miranda – wouldn’t want to think I’d tarred her with someone else’s brush… (The skit I have in mind was funny, but far from complimentary):

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          Found it —
          It was very funny — and not uncomplimentary, really. The costumes were dead on, and the accompanying male singers.
          It’s really a tribute, in which Carol Burnett is always being Carol Burnett!

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          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            LOL, after watching your vid, maybe Carol B’s version of (an aging?) Carmen Miranda wasn’t so far off after all; )

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            It was an innocent time — and we all loved her, with a little extra frisson because she was a little bit risqué!

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          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            Yes, LOVED the teensiest strip of tanned belly showing in your clip; ) how she made Caesar Romero squirm (same movie, different YouTube vid) I’m thinking that someone was an incredibly talented painter, ’cause that skirt was absolutely gorgeous!

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            Now I have to chase down THAT vid!
            What we do in the name of research!
            😉

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          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            LOL, hang on a sec: )

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          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            Okay, giving it a go.
            (Do you realize we’re, like, skyping between the US and France without a picture, but everything else!
            What an amazing world we live in!)

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          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            It truly IS an amazing world, isn’t it?!
            But I’m just a little north of Lynda… (In Ontario, Canada, that is; )

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            *Blush*
            My geographic ignorance is showing re: Canada and points north!
            Perhaps France is wishful thinking, mine!!!!

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          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            That’s okay (obviously I’m not sure where you are either; ) Let’s just say, from Athens, Alabama it’s roughly a 15.5 hour – 1,500km or 900mile – drive from here on the north shore of Lake Ontario (pretty much straight across from Rochester NY; )

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            Next research tool: an atlas! We’re in New England, in the western part of the state of Massachusetts. From Rochester to us is 316 miles to the east south-east. If that helps!
            In a fertile valley that is famous for asparagus, and for big leaves of tobacco to make wrappers for cigars.
            And for five, count them, five colleges! Smith College and Mount Holyoke College (elite women’s colleges), Amherst College (once an elite men’s school now co-ed), Hampshire College (an experimental kind of curriculum based on Oxbridge tutorial models), and the University of Massachusetts (giant flagship of the state’s university system, with some 28,000 graduate and undergraduate students in all).
            Probably in the realm of TMI (too much information).

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  7. Carolina says:

    awesome!

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  8. Love the voluptuousness of it all….

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  9. Stephanie says:

    I knew they reminded me of something–I adore the way they hold up all that top-heaviness and manage to sway without toppling, like those towering piles of bright fruit.

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  10. Madhu says:

    Carmen is the perfect match for the flamboyance of the hibiscus! 🙂

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  11. Patti Kuche says:

    What a woman! She moves the hibiscus in a breeze all her own! I loved watching those films when I was young, what worlds away they felt to be.

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