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The Girl From Ipanema

“The Girl From Ipanema” is one of the classics of 20th century music, esp. of the ‘easy listening’ variety (it was #1 on Billboard‘s Easy Listening chart for 2 weeks). It is one of the most-recorded songs in history, and is easy recognizable to most people over a certain age, even if many of them don’t quite remember the title.

The greatest and most celebrated recording of the tune comes from the 1964 album Getz/Gilberto, a collaboration between jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist Joao Gilberto, as well as input from Brazilian composer and performer Antonio Carlos Jobim (who had written the music for the song). Gilberto’s wife Astrud, who wasn’t a trained singer but had a working command of the English language, was chosen to sing on this track.

“The Girl From Ipanema” was released in late July 1964 as a single, a pared-down version of what existed on the album. It reached #5 in the U.S. as well as becoming a hit in several other countries. A classic was born.

The shy-but-authentic Astrud could be seen singing her hit in the teen comedy Get Yourself a College Girl:

Since then there have been a few variations on the theme….

Vladek Sheybal and Dobby the House Elf: Separated At Birth?

Now, please let me be clear: I am a big fan of the late Vladek Sheybal’s work. He was a very engaging actor, and although his looks and accent made him a great villain (such as Satan in The Apple), he was also very engaging in roles where he played a more sympathetic character (such as Dr. Jackson on UFO).

The man had a good career in some really interesting films and TV series. He was in the 1967 Casino Royale; he was a chess master in From Russia With Love. In fact, his face and voice made him perfect to play Cold War villains, and he did so on a variety of TV series in Britain, where he moved in the early 60’s.

Offscreen, he was a badass. He was actually a member of the Polish underground and fought Nazis – captured twice, and put into concentration camps, from which he escaped – again, twice.

Nevertheless, one can’t help but notice a certain similarity of features between Mr. Sheybal and Dobby the House Elf of the Harry Potter film series. Please tell me I’m not the only person to have noticed this.