The Washington Post
October 18, 1999
Then, Now and Forever, 'The Girl From Ipanema'

                  By Stephen Buckley
                  Washington Post Foreign Service
                  Monday, October 18, 1999; Page A13

                  RIO DE JANEIRO—She is still tall and tan and lovely, and when she
                  walks by, people still nudge each other with faint incredulity. Airline
                  passengers change seats to sit next to her. Women smile shyly and
                  sometimes say hello. Men gawk.

                  The girl from Ipanema has grown up. She's nearing 60, although she likes
                  to tell strangers that she is a decade younger. Which somehow makes
                  sense, because she's still defined by youthful beauty: jolting, sea-green
                  eyes; honey-blond hair; pole-straight posture; a trim figure.

                  Not much has changed for Helo Pinheiro, although nearly 35 years have
                  passed since poet Vinicius de Moraes revealed that she had inspired his hit
                  song, "The Girl From Ipanema."

                  For Pinheiro, the song has meant a lifetime of work and celebrity, as a talk
                  show host, soap opera actress, beauty pageant organizer, model,
                  businesswoman, author, newspaper columnist. She has visited 10 countries
                  on four continents. Her face has appeared on cans of tea in Japan. She has
                  posed for Playboy magazine.

                  For Brazil, the song came to embody the mythical, mysterious beauty that
                  enshrouds this nation--a beauty most powerfully symbolized by this
                  shimmering former capital that calls itself The Wonderful City.

                  And all because a songwriter and a poet happened to see a beautiful
                  teenager stroll past a bar.

                  "Yes, it changed my life, that one moment," Pinheiro said recently, sitting in
                  a hotel restaurant at a table overlooking Ipanema Beach. "I think there's
                  something about me that's allowed me to keep it going for all these years.
                  But yes, it all goes back to that moment."

                  Tom Jobim, de Moraes's songwriting sidekick, spotted her first in 1962.
                  He kept seeing her amble past the Veloso bar, on her way to Ipanema
                  Beach. He grew so enraptured that he told de Moraes they had to write a

                  De Moraes waited three days to see Pinheiro. And when he did, he agreed
                  with his friend. So, they wrote a song and sold it. The song flopped in
                  Brazil. But 5,000 miles north, its soothing samba rhythms sent American
                  hearts sailing. In 1964, it won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

                  Even more than the Academy Award-winning film "Black Orpheus," the
                  song came to epitomize Brazil, at least in the American mind, says Joseph
                  Page, a law professor at Georgetown University, who has written
                  extensively about Brazil.

                  "It was kind of Brazil growing up," Page said of the song. "It was no longer
                  samba, a national thing. It was cool. It was sophisticated. It was the first
                  song that universalized Brazilian music."

                  Until 1965, no one knew whom Jobim and de Moraes had written about.
                  Angered by the torrent of women claiming to be "The Girl," de Moraes
                  wrote a magazine article explaining how Pinheiro had mesmerized him and
                  Jobim. He called her a "flower and mermaid, full of light and grace."

                  Pinheiro's life would never be the same. Countries invited her to visit.
                  Eventually, she started acting and appeared in three soap operas. She has
                  hosted four talk shows. She made commercials.

                  She also ran a modeling agency for 18 years, and she oversees the Girl
                  From Ipanema beauty pageant. She has written a memoir and currently
                  writes a column for community newspapers. She also acts in a weekly
                  comedy show.

                  And she has managed to raise four children and stay married to the same
                  man--a Sao Paulo businessman--for four decades.

                  Pinheiro still delights in her role as The Girl. On a plane recently, "a lady
                  came over and sat next to me, and she said, 'I can't believe it! I'm sitting
                  next to a myth!' "

                  The myth seems to grow with each year. A movie was made of her life
                  (she didn't like it). There's a rock band called Girl From Ipanema. Next
                  year, there reportedly will be a soap opera of the same name. The building
                  where Pinheiro grew up is now named in her honor. And the songwriters'
                  old haunt, the Veloso, is now called the Girl From Ipanema bar. It's on
                  Vinicius de Moraes Street.

                  Pinheiro tries to keep up with the myth. She works out at least three times
                  a week. Her once-brilliant brown hair is now blond, to match Brazil's
                  modern standard of beauty. She wears wraparound sunglasses, pastel
                  colors and platform shoes.

                  There are days, though, when Pinheiro says she longs to shed her
                  legendary status. Those are the days when she goes to the beach and feels
                  self-conscious because people notice that she is no longer 19.

                  "People want us to be always young," she said. "I know people look and
                  they make comparisons to when I was younger. And that makes me a little
                  sad. Because you realize that time goes by."

                  "The Girl From Ipanema"

                  Tall and tan and young and lovely

                  The girl from Ipanema goes walking

                  And when she passes

                  Each one she passes goes ahhh

                  When she walks she's like a samba

                  That swings so cool and sways so gently

                  That when she passes

                  Each one she passes goes ahhh

                  Oh, but he watches so sadly

                  How can he tell her he loves her

                  Yes he would give his heart gladly

                  But each day when she walks to the sea

                  She looks straight ahead not at he

                  Tall and tan and young and lovely

                  The Girl from Ipanema goes walking

                  And when she passes he smiles

                  But she doesn't see

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