Dies, at 96, star who participated in great soap operas on Globo

Actress Maria Fernanda left us last Saturday (30), at age 96, due to complications from pneumonia. Daughter of poet Cecília Meirelles and artist Fernando Correia Dias, the artist was especially dedicated to theater, but also left her mark on TV.

Father Hero - Maria Fernanda

Maria was considered one of the first modern actresses in the country – just like Fernanda Montenegro, Dulcina de Moraes, Cleyde Yáconis and Cacilda Becker. She was awarded the first Molière Award for Best Actress, for Blanche Dubois, in A Streetcar Named Desire (1963).


the call of television

Maria Fernanda

In the 1950s, Maria Fernanda acted in teletheaters. His debut in telenovelas took place with João da Silva (1973), an educational production by TVE – now TV Brasil. Before, she turned down the invitation for Irmãos Coragem (1970), a classic by Janete Clair that added the male audience to the genre.


In 1975, Maria could not resist Walter Avancini’s invitation to Gabriela. With him, she made three other plots of the extinct ten o’clock time: O Grito (1975), Nina (1977) and the censored Despedida de Casado. Also Father Hero (1979), which Janete developed for the eight o’clock range.

“He was a fascinating person. Suddenly, he got me to play ‘Gabriela’, as Dona Sinhazinha. I only accepted because it was an invitation made by him”, declared the actress to the newspaper O Globo (30/06/2002).

Victims of sexism on the small screen

Father Hero - Maria Fernanda

In Band, Maria Fernanda participated in Dulcinéa Vai à Guerra (1980), starring Dercy Gonçalves. In Cultura, she was part of the team for the special O Tronco do Ipê (1982). In 1986, another great success: Dona Beija, from Manchete – where she also acted in Mania de Querer (1986) and Olho por Olho (1988).

Most of Maria’s characters on TV were women tormented by machismo. Gabriela’s Sinhazinha was murdered by her husband Jesuíno (Francisco Dantas) after the discovery of her affair with Osmundo (João Paulo Adour). Mafalda, from O Grito, was an elitist just like her husband, of whom she was jealous.

In Pai Herói, Gilda Baldaracci despised her son André (Tony Ramos), the result of a previous relationship, so as not to confront her current partner, Bruno (Paulo Autran). Finally, the moralist Cecília, by Dona Beija, who had an aversion to the romance between the heir Antônio (Paulo Gracindo) and the cafetina Beija (Maitê Proença).


the last years

Dona Beija - Maria Fernanda

The artist distanced herself from TV in the 1980s, but continued to work in theater and cinema. Maria Fernanda was even in the feature film that marked the resumption of national production with Queen D. Maria I, by Carlota Joaquina, Princess of Brazil (1995) – directed by Carla Camurati.

Maria’s last works on stage and in films were 15 years ago. She left a son, Luiz Heitor, from a relationship with TV director Luiz Gallon.

It is also worth mentioning Maria Fernanda’s struggle against the military dictatorship. Arrested due to a production of Um Bonde Chamado Desejo in Brasília, she mobilized the artistic class, which promoted a 72-hour strike in theaters in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The manifesto culminated with the famous Walk of Culture against Censorship, which brought together professionals from the medium in Cinelândia, downtown Rio de Janeiro.

About Hrishikesh Bhardwaj

Tv specialist. Falls down a lot. Typical troublemaker. Hipster-friendly advocate. Food fan.

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