HeloÃsa Pinheiro (nÃ©e HeloÃsa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, now known as HelÃ´ Pinheiro, born 1945) was the real-life “Girl from Ipanema”, a carioca whose strolls through the fashionable Ipanema district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil inspired the sonGg Girl from Ipanema (originally titled, in Portuguese, A Garota de Ipanema.)
Though the writers and their estates have made millions in royalties from the song, HelÃ´ never made a penny from it. When she tried to open a clothing boutique with the name “The Girl from Ipanema” she was sued by the heirs to co-writers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, but after much legal wrangling she was able to keep the name of her shop. Attorney Lawrence J. Siskind wrote in Legal Times in 2001:
“If you have tears to shed, prepare to shed them now. [...] Her husband has been unemployed for the past five years. Their 22-year-old son suffered brain damage as an infant and requires special medical care. [...] Finished shedding tears? Then set aside sentiment, and explore who is right. Disregard the fawning press treatment and the ceremony held in her honor by the Ipanema merchants association, including the red carpet rolled out for the beloved heroine to tread upon as she memorialized her celebrated stroll. [...]
What did HelÃ´ contribute to “The Girl From Ipanema”? Not the words. Not the music. Not her appearance, her name, her publicity rights, or her privacy. HelÃ´ supplied the inspiration — something perhaps more important than the conventional elements of intellectual property, but utterly unprotectable.
HelÃ´ Pinheiro became a Brazilian Playboy Playmate in 1987 and once again in 2003, when she did a pictorial along with her daughter, Ticiane Pinheiro.
She also appeared in the second season of the Amazing Race, for the Beach portion of the first Detour clue.