Everyone knows that, tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking. But did you know the actual Girl from Ipanema that inspired the Bossa Nova hit?
"It's the oldest story in the world," says Norman Gimbel, who wrote the English lyrics. "The beautiful girl goes by, and men pop out of manholes and fall out of trees and are whistling and going nuts, and she just keeps going by. That's universal."
So reasoned composer Antônio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinícius de Moraes five decades ago. Stalled on a number for a musical called "Blimp," they sought inspiration at the Veloso, a seaside cafe in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. There they remembered a local teenager, the 5-foot-8-inch, dark-haired, green-eyed Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, whom they often saw walking to the beach or entering the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother. And so they penned a paean to a vision.
Thomas Vinciguerra of The Wall Street Journal has the story, in honor of the song's 50th year anniversary: LinkAt 66 years old today, Heloísa is still stunningly beautiful.