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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Girl from Ipanema fights for title
Helo Pinheiro
Helo Pinheiro has enjoyed fame as a model and actress
The Brazilian inspiration behind one of the most evocative songs of an era could be stripped of her title as the official The Girl From Ipanema.

The families of the song's authors have objected to Helo Pinheiro using the name to promote her shop.

The name The Girl from Ipanema only exists because I exist

Helo Pinheiro
Pinheiro has laid claim to the title since songwriters Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes saw her walking up and down Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a teenager in 1962.

Surprisingly, The Girl from Ipanema was a total flop in Brazil when it was first released.

But it was big hit in the United States, winning a Grammy for the best song of the year in 1964.

Legal threat

Helo Pinheiro was "tall and tan and lovely" at the time - but now, as a 54-year-old, has opened a jewellery and clothing shop called Garota de Ipanema, or Girl from Ipanema, in So Paulo.

Helo Pinheiro
Pinheiro: "The muse who inspired the song"
The families of the songwriters, who are both dead, are now suing Pinheiro for "unduly using the works and images of the deceased."

The lawsuit says: "She doesn't have the legitimacy to use, at her pleasure, the work and images of Tom Jobim and of Vinicius Moraes as she has been doing."

It cites a popular T-shirt featuring a picture of Pinheiro with the song's lyrics written in the background.


Helo Pinheiro told the BBC she was confused by the subpoena she had received.

"There are no grounds for it. The apartment building where I live in Rio is called The Girl From Ipanema, and throughout Brazil there are many bars and night-clubs that are using this name.

Saxophonist Stan Getz
Stan Getz: Helped make the song popular
"No-one has ever complained. If I am the muse who inspired the song, I have the right to use this title.

"They are trying to kill me', she said, "but how are you going to tell the story of the 'The Girl From Ipanema, if I am erased from the picture?"

Helo feels that what caused this lawsuit to be brought after such a long time, are perhaps personal motives.

"Tom Jobim asked me to marry him once. Maybe his widow has only decided to become jealous now," she stated.

'Creature of God'

The song was famously recorded by Joo and Astrid Gilberto and saxophonist Stan Getz, and has been performed by stars including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong.

The songwriters revealed more than 30 years ago that Pinheiro - who was born Heloisa Eneida - was their inspiration.

"She was a green-eyed girl, blond and dark, a mixture that is so beautiful," Jobim once said.

"She was a creature of God."

Totally unknown until Jobim and Moraes' revelation in 1965, Pinheiro became an overnight celebrity in Brazil.


Pinheiro's lawyers say they will not only fight the charges but also sue the two families for damages.

She believes that if Jobim and Moraes were still alive, they would not be suing her.

Pinheiro said she was friends with both Jobim, who died in 1994, and Moraes, who died in 1980.

Jobim even wrote the text that accompanied nude photos of her in Brazilian Playboy in 1987 under the title The Girl From Ipanema, Pinheiro said.

Her career as a model, soap opera actress and businesswoman was boosted by the song's popularity.

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