SAO PAULO – Television host and singer Hebe Camargo, called by many the “Queen of Brazilian Television,” died in Sao Paulo of a heart attack after a two-year battle with peritoneal cancer, the SBT network reported. She was 83.
Camargo, who had signed a contract last week to return to Sistema Brasileńo de la Television, or SBT, after a stint at Rede TV, died on Saturday at her home in the exclusive neighborhood of Morumbi, the network said.
In a message of condolence, President Dilma Rousseff said she had received with “sadness” the news of the death “of one of the most important personalities in Brazilian television,” whom she called her “dear friend.”
Camargo was “a pioneer of interview programs” and “with her friendliness and spontaneity she welcomed, over the course of six decades, the most diverse personalities on her television programs, always maintaining a great reception among the public,” the president said.
“Thousands of admirers all over Brazil lose today the joy of Hebe, a great artist, and at this time of pain and sadness, I want to express my solidarity with her family, her friends and all Brazilian television viewers,” Rousseff said.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife Marisa Leticia also issued a statement in which they emphasized that Camargo, “with her friendliness and charisma, gained the admiration of generations of Brazilians and provided an unequaled contribution to the history of the country’s television.”
“Her joy of living will always remain in our memory,” Lula and the former first lady said.
The artist, who had achieved fame as a singer of peasant music in the 1940s, participated in the first live Brazilian television broadcast in 1950 and never left the medium, where she established herself as one of the top hosts for variety programs.
Her final musical work was a tribute to her colleague and friend Robert Carlos in 2010, and a few months after that she had to undergo chemotherapy for peritoneal cancer.
In 2011, after being with her program for 24 years, Camargo left SBT, the channel headed by octogenarian host Silvio Santos, and signed a contract with Rede TV, where she remained until August, when she decided to accept an offer to return to her former television home.