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Thereza de Orléans e Bragança, Brazilian Society Doyenne, Dies at 93

  • July 14, 2020

Thereza de Orléans e Bragança, an elegant society figure in Rio de Janeiro who gained a measure of international celebrity in the 1950s and ’60s before transforming herself into a princess by marrying into Brazil’s royal family, died on June 27 in Rio. She was 93.

Her stepson Dom João Henrique Orleans e Bragança said the cause was heart failure.

Ms. Orléans e Bragança was one of the last vestiges of a now largely vanished postwar high society in Rio, an “old money” class, sprinkled with remnants of an even earlier era of Brazilian royalty and aristocracy, that prized elegance and discretion over ostentation.

“She belonged to an era that doesn’t exist anymore, Rio in the 1950s,” her stepson said.

She was known for her exquisite taste and a sense of style that made her the epitome of chic in Rio de Janeiro. Her association with American movie stars like Rita Hayworth and Bing Crosby, who reportedly offered her a movie role, which she turned down, provided fodder for the society page — so much so that there was a popular samba song written about her.

In 1954, Life Magazine ran an article about her, titled “The Best Dressed Woman in Rio de Janeiro,” that described her life with her husband at the time, Carlos Eduardo Souza Campos, a polo-playing banker. “Possessed of a huge wardrobe and unerring taste,” Life wrote, “she brilliantly adorns this idyllic existence.”

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