Wednesday, 28 August 2013

1950 - Brazil loses the World Cup

13 May 1950 - Barbosa, Juvenal, Bauer and Augusto; Friaça, Danilo Alvim, Bigode e Chico; Zizinho, Jair Rosa Pinto and Ademir Menezes. 

Uruguayan goal-keeper Maspoli consoles Brazilian Captain Augusto da Costa after Brazil's defeat at the last game at Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro in 1950.

Uruguay's 1950 triumph versus Brazil 

Britain's papers buried the story, but Uruguay's Rio win was one of the most far-reaching and dramatic games ever played.

The Guardian, 18 February 2014.
written by Scott Murray.

Uruguay's Alcides Ghiggia scores.

Monday 17 July 1950, and the front page of the Manchester Guardian was still given over to classified advertising. Buy your new Bendix home laundry appliances at Fred Dawes, 90 London Road. Manchester; Miss Newgrosh or Princess Street; Blackburn is offering a German/Polish translation service at competitive rates; the Lancashire County Fire Brigade are selling off a 1930 Leyland fire engine, 55 hp, no guarantee attached, sold as seen, the County Council accepts no responsability for any unexplained mechanical combustion.

Even taking the idiosyncrasies of old-school newspaper layout into account, one of the day's biggest stories had been inexplicably squirreled  away. The edition's lead story on page 5 was fair enough: a report on the Battle of Taejon, the first big stramash in a war in Korea that had begun a month beforehand. But here's a few of the day's other top tales: 3 yatchs were caught in a squall near Bridlington; lightning struck a house in Wigan; the Yorkshire Winding Enginemen's Association called a strike ballot in a pay dispute with the National Coal Board; 1.39 inches of rain fell in Hull. And after all that, there in the bottom corner, was a brief five-paragraph report of the greatest, most dramatic, far-reaching, resonant football match ever played.

All attendance records were broken at Rio de Janeiro today for the world championship Brazil-Uruguay football game: more than 160,000 people attended, paying the equivalent of about £ 120,000.

More than 5,000 policemen, supported by special units of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force, stood by and every precaution was taken to prevent scenes like those that took place last Thursday, when 2 people died and more than 260 were injured in a rush for seats. The police made a final appeal to the crowd not to use fireworks to welcome the teams or to celebrate the scoring of a goal. They banned the sales of oranges and bottles of soft-drinks, as these are handy weapons for anyone who disagrees with the referee.

But the police appeal was ignored. When the Brazilians trooped on to the field thousands of fireworks and rockets - both banned by the police - were let off. Clouds of confetti swept over the stands. Thousands enthusiastically waved small Brazilian flags and chanted 'Brazil, Brazil, Brazil.'

But it was Uruguay that won - by two goals to one - and when the final whistle blew the Brazilian players, who had expected to obtain gold medals and thousands of pounds for a win bonus, walked slowly off the field, their heads bowed low.

In the huge white-and-blue concret stands, women were prostate with grief, and the announcer was so thunderstruck that he forgot to broadcast the result of the other cup match between Spain and Sweden to decide minor placings. Stadium doctors treated 1969 people for fits of hysteria and other troubles. Six were taken to hospital seriously ill.

Some of this report was repeated verbatim halfway down the sports section on page 6, along with additional information of a celebratory samba, Brazil the Victors, which had remained unsung, and of joyous Uruguayan players hugging match referee George Reader of England as he whistled his whistle for the final time. That, however, was your lot. A couple of broad brush strokes, and no detail about the actual game. We've got to take this one on the chin: the Guardian lost the news!

Though in fairness, we were far from the worst offenders. The Times buried the story at the very bottom of the sixth column of page 7, a seven-liner consisting of the bald facts and nothing else, below the racing results from Sandown, Doncaster and Hamilton, and news of a rugby friendly between a British team on tour in New Zealand and a combined Waikato-King Contry / Thames Valley side. (For the record, Britain won 30-0, a remarkable scoreline considering the state of the pitch.) The Daily Mirror hid news of the 'World Soccer Cup' away on page 12, in a small piece which gave no details of the match but did at least add a splash of colour with a jazz riff on that presumptuous 'Brazil the Victors' ditty. 'It will probably become known as the Silent Samba.' they lyrically predicted. The Daily Express did mention the match on its front page, fair's fair, though only in a 4-line snippet at the end of a column otherwise concerned with the recall of farmer Harold Gimblett, Somerset's hard-hitting batsman, to the England Test team after an 11-year absence. Britain's coverage of what interested.

More fool us. There have been World Cups which brought better teams, greater players and higher skill levels, most of it captured in modernity's blistering Technicolor for added glitz and glamour. But the IV Campeonato Mundial de Futebol gave us the most jaw-dropping collection of stories.

The Superga air disaster took place on Wednesday 4 May 1949 when a plane carrying almost the entire Torino A.C. football team crashed into Superga Hill near Torino, killing all 31 people aboard. 18 players, club officials, journalists accompanying the team and the plane's crew were lost. The team was returning from a farewell match for Xico Ferreira against Benfica in Lisbon.

Reigning champions Italy, feared of flying in the wake of the Superga disaster (, sailing to Brazil, rolling down the gangplank like gnocchi, then jetting home in a sulk after an early exit. The home-based amateurs of Sweden, denying themselves the Milan-based Gre-No-Li geniuses ( but making it to the Final Pool anyway.

Swedish players Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl & Nils Liedholm.

Gre-No-Li is a contraction of the surnames of 3 Swedish footballers: Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl & Nils Liedholm. The denomination was colloquially used after these players composed a formidable trio of strikers while playing for the Swedish national team and Italian club AC Milan in the 1950s. The 3 forwards led Sweden to Olympic gold at the 1948 Olympic tournament in London. Shortly after that success, centre-forward Nordahl joine Milan, and was accompanied by Gren and Liedholm in the 1949-1950 season, during which Milan scored 71 goals in 38 matches. 

England beating the USA 10-1. Hooray! (That was according to one British agency, blithely assuming a rouge 1 had been lost over their wires.) The newly-built Maracanã raining concrete from its roof during the opening ceremony's 21-gun salute. Even the teams who didn't make it contributed unforgettable twists to the narrative: India, refusing to wear boots and thus being ordered to do one by Fifa; Scotland, refusing to engage their brains and turning down a runner-up's qualification spot behind England in the Home Championship.

And then there's the final, the greatest story the World Cup has ever told, its circumstance a perfect storm of biblical proportion, the enventual outcome a sporting tragedy worthy of Shakespeare. The deciding match of the 1950 World Cup, between host Brazil and neighbouring minnows Uruguay, wasn't, of course, technically the final: it was merely the last round-robin rubber in a ridiculous four-team Final Pool, the bureaucrats at Fifa having lost the thread completely. But fate would save them, and the tournament's historical integrity, as Fifa's pão (bread) landed jam side up, and they got away with the ludicrous decision to do away with a set-piece final. Thanks to the way the first 4 matches of the Final Pool panned out, the Brazil-Uruguay tie was effectively a winner-takes-all final, though Brazil's better record against the Pool's floaters, Sweden and Spain, meant they had the draw in the bag as well. Looking back, that caveat, ostensibly to Brazil's benefit, ramped up the narrative possibilities.  And so a match which, in theory, could so easily have ended up as a damp-squib irrelevance turned out to be the most dramatic 90 minutes of association football ever played.

Going into the final showdown, Brazil were hot favourites to get the job done. They'd been fancied from the get-go. As well as being hosts, they were the reigning South American champions, having won the 1949 Copa América. They bagged the trophy by scoring 46 goals in 8 matches, a run which included a 9-1 win against Ecuador, a 10-1 victory over Bolivia, a 7-0 evisceration of Paraguay (their nearest challengers in the league-based tournament), and a 5-1 thrashing of ... yes, you knew it, Uruguay.

Still, the 1950 World Cup wasn't all plain sailing for Brazil, who suffered some group-stage judders. They conceded a late equaliser to draw 2-2 against Switzerland. And would they have subsequently registered a 2-0 win over Yugoslavia in a tense winner-takes-all group game had the Yougoslav captain Rajko Mitic not missed the start after cracking his head open on an exposed girder in the still-half-finished Maracanã? But Flavio Costa's team made it through, and got their act together in the Final Pool in a style which was unprecedented and arguably since unmatched. They beat Sweden 7-1 in their first Pool game, then spanked Spain 6-1 in their second. The front three of Ademir, Chico and Zizinho had caught fire, coming at opponents from all angles, their many goals punctuating 90-minute showcases of dainty flicks, delicate feints, mazy dribbles, pacy runs, fluid bicycle kicks, vicious volleys, thundering headers and cute finishes. According to legend - no telly camercas, you see - one of Ademir's 4 against Sweden came about when he gripped the ball between his feet and somersaulted over the keeper. The Seleção's soccer was anything but a one-note samba.

Uruguay on the other hand had struggled to get to a stage where the last match in the Final Pool remained alive and decisive. Having sauntered into the Pool by beating Bolivia 8-0, their only group game in a ludicrously lopsided tournament - Fifa couldn't be bothered to rearrange their showpiece after India and Scotland had let it down - it took them a while to get their chops up against proper opposition. (Spain and Sweden were no mugs, which only goes to demonstrate Brazil's excellence.) Uruguay had to battle to salvage a draw against Spain in their first match, their captain, the obdurate Obdulio Varela, scoring a late equaliser which stood more as a testament to sheer will than skill. They then needed two goals in the last 13 minutes to turn a looming loss against Sweden into last-gasp victory. Avoiding defeat against Brazil appeared to be a pipe dream - and thanks to that dropped point in the draw against Spain, they needed a win. Good luck, lads!

By common consent, it seemed they were going to need it. Uruguay were walking into the lion's den with neither whip nor chair. The Maracanã bounced with anticipation and expectation. The early edition of O Mundo newspaper screamed 'Brasil Campeão 1950'. A celebratory samba, 'Brazil the Victors', had been composed, the house band ready to strike it up the minute Brazil had made it 3 out of 3 in the Pool. The mayor of Rio got in first with a paen to Costa's XI: 'You, players, who in less than a few hours will be hailed as champions by millions of compatriots! You who have no rivals in the entire hemisphere! You who will overcome any other competitor! You, who I already salute as victors!' An official world-record crowd of 173,850 - but in truth closer in number to 210,000 - spent the time leading up to kick-off in full party mode. 'Brasil! Brasil! Brasil!' There were approximately 100 Uruguayans in attendance. Good luck, lads!

And when the first whistle sounded, it seemed they were going to need it. Brazil flew out of the traps, Zizinho haring straight for the Uruguayan box and winning a corner that was fizzed straight through the six-yard box by Friaca. By the time 180 seconds were on the clock, Ademir had whistled two shots down the throat of Roque Maspoli in the Uruguayan goal. Within another couple of minutes, Jair had sent a free-kick close.

It seemed only a matter of time: 7-1 against Sweden, 6-1 against Spain, 5-1 against Uruguay in the Copa América the previous year, the Uruguayan goal now under fire at machine-gun pace in the opening skirmishes. But all this didn't quite tell the whole story, and may explain why Uruguay didn't simply give in. For a start, the Uruguayans were, in their own heads at least, still the reigning world champions. They'd won the 1930 version, after all, then refused to compete in the 1934 and 1938 tournaments in policial pique. So as things stood, they were still unbeaten in World Cup competition - and as such, it was their title to lose. Brazil who?

Uruguay also had 3 of the best players in the world lining up in their team: inside forward Juan Alberto Schiaffino, winger Alcides Ghiggia, and the domineering (and afore-mentioned) box-to-box midfielder Obdulio Varela. The trio played their club footbal for Peñarol, who had been scoring goal at a preposterous rate: on average, they were rattling home 4.5 goals per league match. All 3 Peñarol players would have a major say in the way the game panned out.

It should also be noted that Brazil's status as champions of South America and recent 5-1 bosses of Uruguay wasn't all it seemed. Since that thrashing in the Copa América, the two countries had met 3 more times, Uruguay winning one game 4-3 and narrowly losing the other two. Additionally, the way Brazil claimed the 1949 Copa América title was instructive, certainly in retrospect: they had only required a draw in their final game against closest challengers Paraguay to stop the tournament's league system, but lost 2-1, and were forced into play-off against the same side. Which they admittedly won 7-0, but the affair illustrated that this brilliant Brazil could suffer from crippling nerves at the business end of tournaments along with the best of them.

Brazil remained on top throughout the first half. They had 17 efforts on goal, Ademir with 5 of them, the best being a thumping header from Chico's cross which Uruguayan keeper Roque Maspoli, his back arched, tipped over the bar in spetacular style. (This was Ademir being kept quiet! A state of affairs thanks in no small part to the close attention afforded him by Varela.) But Brazil couldn't score. And the half wasn't quite the one-way traffic it has been often since painted as. Ghiggia caused a fair bit of trouble down the right, where the left-back Bigode - in English, literally, Moustache - was just about holding his own. Meanwhile, for all Brazil's dominance, it was Uruguay who actually came closest to scoring, when Omar Miguez hit the post with a shot 8 minutes before the break. Ten minutes earlier, Ruben Moran - making his debut in a World Cup final (!) - had missed an open goal by spooning an effort over the crossbar.

Uruguayan goalkeeper Roque Maspoli leaps to touch the ball over the bar.

But the defining moment of the half came on 28 minutes, when Bigode, suffering his continued tussles with Ghiggia, nudged his adversary in the back. A cheeky foul. Varela, stationed nearby but getting mighty closer at speed, motioned to give Bigode a friendly pat on the head, then issued a little cuff round the defender's ear. The Moustache bristled. The English referee George Reader, mindful that he was dealing with two adults, told them both to stop being so bloody effing stupid and to shake hands. The players reluctantly embraced, with Bigode looking visibly shaken. Varela wandered off gathering the front of his sky blue shirt into his fist, a gesture which celebrated the recording of a little victory. 

A little victory that would have big repercussions.

Brazil came out for the second half in a similar manner as they did the first. Zizinho firing straight at Maspoli. And within two minutes of the restart, they were finally ahead. Ademir, in the middle of the park, spotted Friaça making good down the inside-right channel, and released him with a reverse pass. Rodrigues Andrade tried to muscle in over Friaça's left shoulder, but he didn't get there in time. Friaça bobbled a not wholly convincing shot towards the bottom-left corner. Maspoli arguably should have got a hand to it, the ball crossing his body, but for once the keeper - who had been in astonishing form during the first half - was found wanting.

Brazil, a goal up when a draw would do, could touch the trophy. The Maracanã erupted. Varela, very cutely, engaged the linesman in vociferous debate. Ostensibly he was demanding an offside flag, but it would later become clear that he was simply playing for time, letting the 200,000-plus crowd scream themselves out, in order to take a little heat out of the situation. Not that he was of a mind to sit back and wait for things to happen, mind you. It was therefore appropriate for Varela to announce his strident manifesto. 'Let them shout,' he told his teammate Rodrigues Andrade before Uruguay restarted the match. 'In five minutes the stadium will seem like a graveyard, and then only one voice will be heard. Mine!'

The stadium was destined to seem like a graveyard all right, though Varela's timescale proved a bit ambitious. Uruguay did respond to going a goal down with a positive mindset. Schiaffino shooting wide almost immediately after the restart, Ghiggia embarking on a couple of pacy dribbles, getting right up in an increasingly flustered Bigode's grille. But it was Brazil who came closest to scoring the second goal of the game, Ademir sprinting into the box just after the hour and being clattered to the turf by Juan Carlos Gonzales. Different times, different standards: while the player himself cried for a penalty kick, even the commentators on Brazilian radio were admitting that although 'the play was... of great violence' it was also 'lawful'.

On 63 minutes, Jair sent a wild free-kick sailing miles over Maspoli's crossbar. It would prove to be Brazil's last meaningful attack until the whole atmosphere had changed and the panic was on. Upon seeing his side take the lead, Brazil coach Costa had instructed his players to sit back a little, in the hope that Uruguay, desperately flooding forward, would leave spaces open at the back for deadly counter attacks. The flaw in the plan was that Uruguay were too good to be teased and manipulated in this way. Varela, now with fewer defensive duties, stepped up to augment the attack. On 66 minutes, he slid a pass to the right for Ghiggia, who turned Bigode inside out and tore past the lumbering defender on the outside, before whipping a ball to the near post, where Schiaffino stepped ahead of Juvenal to roof the ball home past goalkeeper Moacyr Barbosa. 

The Maracanã didn't quite fall silent - yet - but for the first time doubts were creeping in and the atmosphere became oppressively muted. Varela, just before Brazil gingerly kicked off, stood in the centre circle with his shirt bunched in his fist again, filling the air by shouting to nobody in particular. Brazil were still on course to win the World Cup, but suddenly their passes were no longer sticking. Ghiggia danced past Bigode again and crossed once more for Schiaffino, whose header clanked wide. Ghiggia-Bigode III saw the usual depressing result for Brazil, Uruguay's scintillating winger finding the byline with ease. Schiaffino headed the resulting cross down for Moran, but before the new boy could send the ball fizzind goalwards, Augusto hacked upfield.

Bigode, who had just about kept up with Ghiggia in the first half before being cuffed by Varela, was now a shell of a man. And on 79 minutes he crumbled, as the visitors delivered the killer blow. Brazil were attempting shift in momentum given the stats of the opening period - but Danilo's searching pass for Jair was intercepted by Julio Perez. After one-twoing with Miguez, Perez then sashayed to the right, where he executed another one-two, this time with Ghiggia on the halfway line, before slipping a pass down the flank for the winger to chase. Ghiggia had been given the spring on the leaden-footed Bigode, and drifted inside and into the area, homing in on Barbosa. The keeper was in two minds. Should he close Ghiggia down? Thing was, Schiaffino was hovering in the middle. The indecision was fatal. Ghiggia cracked a shot low towards the near post, the ball flying into the bottom-right corner, Barbosa unable to drop to the floor in time to smother.  

The Maracanã fell silent, at least 200,000 jaws agape, swinging sadly in the breeze. Make that at least 200,001, for Gonzales appeared to be as stunned at Uruguay's turnaround as the hundreds of thousands of emotionally battered Brazilians: his keeper Maspoli had to forcibly shake him back into the land of the living. Gonzales was far from the only one to have lost focus. Brazil, frightened but with ten minutes left to scramble out of a hole, came back at Uruguay in body, but without any real conviction in mind. Jair, Zizinho and Ademir poured forward, but Varela made a couple of easy blocks, and Maspoli gathered other speculative efforts calmly. 'I will dribble them all!' Zizinho was heard to jabber at one point. Brazil were literally in a flat spin: Ademir sent one shot ballooning out for a throw by the corner flag. The Maracanã offered volume again, but the screams within were desperate where they had once been joyful. 

The 90 minutes were up, but there was still time for one moment of time standing still. With the clock kaput, Friaça - who for 19 minutes looked like being Brazil's hero - forced a corner down the right and quickly took the kick himself. Jair challenged Maspoli for the high centre. The ball dropped loose at the left-hand post, where Zizinho, Ademir and Danilo were hanging. But the Uruguayan defender Schubert Gambetta got there first - then grabbed the ball with both hands! 'What are you doing, you animal?!?' screamed team-mate Rodriguez Andrade. However there would be no penalty. Gambetta was one of the few people who had heard referee Reader's final whistle in the hubbub. It was over. The match was over. The 1950 World Cup was over. For Brazil, everything was over. 

The Uruguayans took turns to hug and kiss referee Reader. Fifa president Jules Rimet, ushered on to the field by hysterically crying policemen, let the winning captain and man-of-the-match Varela get his hands on the trophy, though he was advised against raising it. Varela made do with going out drinking in Rio that night, the king of Uruguay, the king of the world. No celebratory samba had been performed. Elsewhere in Rio, there were suicides. The country, almost as one, resigned themselves to the fact that they would never win the World Cup. This was seismic. The world of football would never be the same again. 

Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, three yachts were caught in a squall near Bridlington, lightning struck a house in Wigan, the Yorkshire Winding Enginemen's Association called for a strike ballot in a pay dispute with the National Coal Board, and there was 1.39 inches of rain in Hull. 

Scott Murray is, along with Rob Smyth, the author of 'And Gazza Misses The Final', a collection of minute-by-minute reports of classic World Cup matches, to be released in April 2014. The 1950 final is one of them, perhaps the best, but not necessarily so. 

Oh dear: Juan Schiaffino equalises for Uruguay against Brazil in the 1950 World Cup final. Thirteen minutes later Alcides Ghiggia put 2-1 up and plunged Brazil into a world of pain. 

read the article at The Guardian:

Ademir Menezes, artilheiro da Copa de 1950.


boy watches a game at Maracanã in 1950. Photo by José Medeiros; acervo Inst. Moreira Salles. 

Uruguayans show how racists they were with the placard reading: Uruguay 2 x Monkeys 1.

1951 - Getulio Vargas is back

Getulio Vargas becomes Brazil's 17th President of Brazil. The people celebrate.

Getulio Vargas was inaugurated as President of Brazil (elected with almost 50% of the popular vote) in 31 Januray 1951. It was a Wednesday... the popular party would go on with Carnival starting on the Friday 2 February and stopping only in the morning of Ash Wednesday 7 February 1951. 

Brazil witnessed one of its most joyous moments in its entire history during this festive week .

Life's photographer Leonard McCombe took myriads of pictures which were published in the famous magazine a few weeks later. 

Getulio Vargas becomes President of Brazil in 31 January 1951.

Getulio puffing away at his Cuban cigar... 31 January 1951.

Getulio on his way to being inaugurated as 17th Brazilian President in 31 January 1951.

Church & State... pomp & circumstance... 31 January 1951.

crowd pack up a tram going to town to see Getulio Vargas' inauguration - 31 January 1951.

people celebrate on the streets of Rio de Janeiro... 31 January 1951.

Getulio Vargas' automobile heads towards Catete's Palace - 31 January 1951.

Alzira Vargas, Getulio's daughter watches the day's event from a balcony... 31 JAN 1951.

actress & dancer Luz del Fuego in the streets of Rio during Carnival 1951. - Francisco Alves' 1951 hit about Getulio Vargas return. 'Retrato do velho' de Haroldo Lobo e Marino Pinto.

Getúlio Vargas in 1939 when things were much smoother. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Samuel Wainer's 'Ultima Hora' (Latest Hour)

'Ultima Hora' (Latest Hour) was a popular newspaper launched by journalist Samuel Wainer around the time Getulio Vargas was elected President of Brazil in 1950. Most of the Brazilian press was politically conservative so 'Ultima Hora' would occupy a uniquely left-of-the-centre position, usually supportive of Vargas' government and running against right-wing hatred-mongers like Carlos Lacerda's 'Tribuna de Imprensa', 'O Globo' or São Paulo's conservative buwarks like 'O Estado de S.Paulo'.  

In 1954, there was an eminence of a right-wing conspiracy leading into a military putsch against democracy, but President Vargas, who was a sharp politician saw right through it and committed suicide turning the tide agains the conspirators. Democracy in Brazil was saved in the nick of time and so 'Ultima Hora' (and Brazilian Democracy) had another 10 years of breathing space. In 1964, with the Cold War at its peak, Brazilian Democracy finally fell victim of the US blind campaign against 'Communism', especially the kind Fidel Castro had just introduced in Cuba.

The USA backed the most backward forces in the country and they finally imposed an ugly Dictatorship led by a short General with no neck that would last for more than 20 years.

'Ultima Hora' was one of the first victims of the new reign of terror. From 1964, until Samuel Wainer sold his newspaper with great losses 'Ultima Hora' wasn't up to scratch to what it had been since 1950. 

'Ultima Hora' was a great mixture of 'popular journalism' (crime, disaster & scandal) and the most sophisticated columnists be them socialites or political analysts. 

24 August 1954, Getulio Vargas shoots himself in the heart putting an end to a rigth-wing conspiracy being cooked by journalist Carlos Lacerda with the conservative wing of the Army & Air Force. They wanted Getulio impeached but they only got his dead body instead. The country was outraged and turned against their newpaper 'Tribuna de Imprensa' so the conservatives had to lie low for a while just waiting for the next chance to ambush democracy.

jornalista Samuel Wainer.

Samuel Wainer concocted something new in the early 1950s. His 'Ultima Hora' newspaper would be published in 5 different capital cities, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, making it Brazil's very first national newspaper before the advent of the satellite age.

It was centre-of-the-left and nationalistic but its make-up was really cosmopolitan having columnists with different political persuasions. Alik Kostakis was its São Paulo high-society priestess. UH carried old Cholly Knickerbocker sydicated column that had started in the Hearst newspaper chain. The show business section always had the best including actress-singer Odete Lara and Miguel Vaccaro Netto an early enthusiast of rock'n'roll and the yankee culture. 

'Ultima Hora' was undoubtedly the best Brazilian newspaper, having an independent view of the world totally opposed to the majority of the conservative papers that always sided with the USA in the Cold War. When it came to the US aggressive position against the Cuban Revolution, UH was there for Castro and for João Goulart's stand. 

Unfortunately, after the 1962's Cuba missile crisis and the escalation of the Cold War everything pointed to the worst possible scenario. Finally, with the coup d'etat in April 1964, Brazil entered a long Dark Age whose aftertaste still lingers on even today (2013).  

This blog is an attempt to revive those years between 1957 and 1964, before the Scourge set in. We stress the show-business side of events with politics coming in second place. 

Carlus Maximus, 13 Junho 2012.

'The weapon which is the Vote is with the People' (A arma do voto está como povo). The Brazilian righ-wing was never popular... that's why they tended to be plotting against Democracy eternally.

The headlines shout: Janio renunciou! Janio has renounce! - The only time Brazilian right-wing got to elect a President was in 1960, with Janio Quadros. But Janio, being a 'maverick' was hard to 'harness' and believe it or not, he pursued an independent foreign policy to the chagrin of the conservative parties (UDN/Press) and the USA. In 1961, only 8 months after taking power, Janio ended up being cornered and saw no way out but to renounce the Presidency. The country was plunged into another crisis because the right-wing of the military would not 'allow' the vice-president João Goulart to come back to the country (he was touring China then) to take his post. 

Jânio Quadros renounces to the Presidency: 'I was beaten by the Reaction!' 

  Jango (João Goulart) says: I am returning to take my post (as President) or to die.

As Jango could not arrive through Rio de Janeiro (due to the Army not allowing his plane to land), his plane flew down to Porto Alegre in Rio Grande do Sul, where his brother-in-law Leonel Brizola was the governor. Part of the Army was against the coup against João Goulart and the rest had to back down. The military putsch was aborted in 1961. Actually it was only postponed because the same conspirators finally got what the wanted in April 1964. 

Common people in São Paulo read 'Ultima Hora' about local politics. Adhemar de Barros was a populist politician who had a cunning resemblance with General Perón. He was a powerful agent because differently from most right-wing politician he had a huge following and could veer both to the left or to the right according to the winds.  

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

1952 - singer Francisco Alves dies in a car crash

Francisco Alves, Brazil's most popular singer dies in a car crash in 27 September 1952. Even though Alves is not as well remembered as Carmen Miranda, he was really popular when he died. 

Francisco Alves & his mother in a photo posted on O Cruzeiro in January 1952.


Augusto da Costa, 31 years old was Vasco da Gama's oldest player.  

Miss Universe 1952, the very first Miss Universe pageant was held on 28 June 1952 at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in California, USA. 30 contestants competed for the crown. The winner was Miss Finland, 18-year-old Armi Kuusela, who was crowned by actress Piper Laurie.

from left to right: #4 Miss Hong Kong (Judy Dan);  # 2 Miss Hawaii (Elza Kananionapua Edsman); # 1 Miss Universe (Armi Helena Kuusela); #5 Miss Germany (Renate Hoy) & # 3 Miss Greece (Ntaizy - Daisy - Mavraki). 

Miss Universe 1952

Miss Finland

Finland, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Mexico (Olga Llorens Pérez-Castillo), South Africa (Catherine Edwina Higgins), Sweden (Anne Marie Thistler), USA (Jacqueleen "Jackie" Loughery)  & Uruguay (Gladys Rubio Fajardo).

a traditional photo op starts in 1952 with all the Misses posing on a 3-leveled-platform wearing swim-suits.

Miss Finland is crowned Miss Universe 1952 by Hollywood actress Piper Laurie.

1953 Miss Universe

Miss Universe 1953, was held on 17 July 1953 at Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in California. Miss France, an 18-year-old Christiane Martel won the competition becoming the 2nd Miss Universe. As Armi Kuusela resigned before her reign ended, Christiane was crowned by actress Julie Adams.

Jeffery Chandler & Christiane Martel.

Top Five

from left to right: #5 Miss Australia (Maxine Morgan); #4 Miss Mexico (Ana Bertha Lepe); Miss U (Christiane Martel); #2 Miss USA (Myrna Hansen);  Miss Japan (Kinuko Ito). 

Opening gala of Miss Universe 1953 at the Long Beach Auditorium in California.

Christiane Martel, Miss Universe 1953... even though her sash says 1954.

Christiane Martel e seu sorriso famoso nas paginas sépias de O Cruzeiro.

1954 Miss Universe

It was such a tragic year for Brazilians. On 5 August 1954, just 12 days after Miss Brazil 1954, Martha Rocha was chosen the runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant in Long Beach, California, there was an attempt at the life of right-wing journalist Carlos Lacerda in Rio de Janeiro in which his security agent was killed. 

The right wing media tried its best to pin the murder on President Getulio Vargas and hysteria took hold of the conservatives leading a campaign against the Vargas who saw no alternative but to kill himself with a shot through his heart. That happened 19 days after the murder on Rua Tonelero. 

On 25 November 1954, Juscelino Kubitschek is chosen candidate for president of the left-of-the-centre coalition - the same coalition that governed Brazil since 1946, which swang a little to the right a a little to the left.

Martha Rocha, Miss Brazil 1954 

Miss Universe 1954 was held on 24 July 1954, at Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in California. Miss USA, 21-year-old Miriam Stevenson from South Carolina won the competition.

There was a controversy among the newspaper people due to Miss Brazil having been the favourite to win up to the last minute. See text about the whole 'imbroglio' further down. The most beautiful woman in the Universe, Martha Rocha from Bahia, Brazil was actually placed at # 2.

Miss New Zealand can't stand the California midday sun and passes out while watched by her peers. Martha Rocha also suffered a sun-stroke but was helped in time not to pass out on the floor. 

Miriam Stevenson is crowned Miss Universe by Christiane Martel. 

#3 Miss Hong Kong (Virginia Lee Wai-Chun); #2 Miss Brazil (Martha Rocha); Miss Universe from South Carolina (Miriam Stevenson); #4 Miss Germany (Regina Ernst) & #5 Miss Sweden (Ragnhild Olausson).

Martha Rocha, the most beautiful woman in the Universe (left) and official Miss Universe (right).

Mere inches at hips cost Brazil entry title of Miss Universe 

Sunday Morning, 25 July 1954

Long Beach, Calif. July, 24;  Girls let this be a lesson - two extra inches on the hips cost Miss Brazil the Miss Universe title.

One of the judges, who naturally didn't want to be quoted, disclosed today that Miss USA, a perfectly formed Southern girl, won because of the Latin's bulge.

In judging beauty contests, the experts look for the ideal form which is the hips and bust the same, with the waist 10 to 12 inches less. 

Maria Martha Rocha of Bahia, Brazil, measured 36 inches at the bust, 23 at the waist and 38 at the hips.

Miriam Stevenson, the 21-year-old South Carolina entrant who won both Miss USA and Miss Universe titles, measured 36 at the bust and hips and 24 at the waist. 

Even with the hip measurements Miss Brazil came awfully, awfully close. The judges had an unprecedented triple the vote before finally giving the nod to the Southern lass last night.

'Miss Brazil's face was the most gorgeous in the contest.', said the unnamed judge. 'But we just couldn't discount those hips.' 

Actually to newsmen covering the event Miss Rocha's hips were an asset. Of the 200 press people covering the contest, Miss Brazil was the overwhelming favourite to win. 
Although the beautiful blue-eyed Latin won't go home with the title, she will gather up some of the material rewards. 
By winning both of the titles Miss Stevenson was entitled to 2 movie contracts of 13 weeks each and two $4,000 convertibles. But the contest officials decided that Miss Brazil should have one of the cars. So, in a display of international amity, Miss Stevenson kissed Miss Rocha and presented her with the keys of one of the cars in a ceremony today. 

Final big event on the 10-day program was the coronation ball tonight at which the beauties escorts were handsome Naval air cadets from Pensacola, Fla. This was an eagerly awaited event because the girls' only contact with men this week has been with Rotarians, Kiwanians, Shriners, policemen and firemen - most of them old enough to be the girls fathers. 

Miriam Stevenson, a blond co-ed from Lander College at Greenwood, won the title of Miss Universe Friday night at Long Beach, California.

Miriam Stevenson & Martha Rocha

Semi-finalists at Long Beach 1954

 Argentina - Ivana Olga Kislinger
 Chile - Gloria Legisos Mesina
 Costa Rica - Marian Esquivel McKeown
 France - Jacqueline Beer
 Greece - Rika Diallina
 Italy - Maria Teresa Paliani
 Norway - Mona Stornes
 Panama - Liliana Torre
 Peru - Isabella León Velarde Dancuart
 Philippines - Blesilda Mueler Ocampo
 Uruguay - Ana Moreno

Brazilian team at Football World Cup 1954 from 16 June to 4th of July.

Manchete - 24 August 1954 - President Getulio Vargas shoots himself in the chest.

Manchete 9 October 1954 - singer Doris Monteiro gets married.

1954 Governor elections. The first elections after Getulio Vargas committed suicide. Dark horse Janio Quadros is surprisingly elected São Paulo governor running against Adhemar de Barros who was a  populist powerhouse. Janio's cadaverous face belied a cunning politician that would soon go to the very top and become the President of Brazil in another 6 years.