Woman Who Inspired 'The Girl From Ipanema' to Carry Olympic Torch | NBC New York

Woman Who Inspired 'The Girl From Ipanema' to Carry Olympic Torch

Helo Pinheiro, 71, was a teenager when she caught the attention of musicians Antonio Jobim and Vinicius Moraes

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    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016)

    The woman who inspired the international bossa nova hit “The Girl From Ipanema” will carry the Olympic torch through Rio on Friday. 

    Helo Pinheiro was a Brazilian teenager when she caught the attention of musicians Antonio Jobim and Vinicius Moraes while walking to the beach. Her stunning good looks were immortalized in the song. 

    "Everything changed because (of) the song," Pinheiro said. 

    Now 71 years old, Pinheiro runs a bikini shop aptly called "The Girl form Ipanema." 

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    She said she knew the composers were checking her out from the bar, but had no idea they wrote the song until it exploded years later. 

    "After that I become famous," she recalled. 

    And so did the street itself. It was re-named Vinicius de Moraes. 

    The bar where Jobim and Moraes found their inspiration is right next door from Pinheiro’s bikini shop. 

    "The bar was Veloso, now it's The Girl from Ipanema,” Pinheiro said. 

    Pinheiro said there will be a performance of "The Girl From Ipanema" during the Opening Ceremony — Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen will play the 71-year-old. 

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    "I don't know the words I can (use) in this moment," Pinheiro said. "It's so emotional for me and all the Brazilian people." 

    Pinheiro still enjoys the attention that comes more than 50 years after the song was covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz.

    She said she still gets many visitors who want to pose for photos, and many of them wonder how she still looks so good at age 71. 

    "I make gym, I make dance. It's good for my health and my mind," Pinheiro explained. "When people say you are so nice and your body looks like girls (who are) 35-years-old, I'm proud because of this." 

    Pinheiro has 4 children and 4 grandchildren and for many years worked as a TV presenter in Brazil and around the world.