Zuzu Angel

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Zuzu Angel
Born June 5, 1921
Curvelo, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Died April 5, 1976(1976-04-05) (aged 54)
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
Cause of death
Car crash (possibly murdered)
Nationality Brazilian
Citizenship American
Occupation Fashion designer
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Norman Angel Jones
Children Stuart Angel Jones
Hildegard Angel
SNI document on Stuart, 1971

Zuleika Angel Jones (June 5, 1921 – April 14, 1976), better known as Zuzu Angel, was a Brazilian-American fashion designer, who became famous for opposing the Brazilian military dictatorship after the forced disappearance of her son, Stuart. She was also the mother of journalist Hildegard Angel.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Zuzu Angel was born on June 5, 1921, in Curvelo, Brazil. While still a child, she moved to Belo Horizonte, later living in Bahia. Bahian culture and colors significantly influenced the style of Angel's creations. In 1947, she went to live in Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil's capital city.[1]

In the 1950s, Angel began her work as a seamstress, usually making clothing for close relatives. At the start of the 1970s, she opened up a store in Ipanema, at the same time beginning to exhibit her clothes on American runways. In her fashion expositions, she always harnessed the joy and richness of the colors of Brazilian culture, making a name for herself in the fashion world of her time.[1]

Angel married an American salesman, Norman Angel Jones, and on January 11, 1946, they had a son, Stuart.[2]

Forced disappearance of Stuart Angel[edit]

Stuart Angel was an undergraduate student at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's School of Economics when he joined the left-wing urban guerrilla group Revolutionary Movement 8th October (Movimento Revolucionário 8 de Outubro – MR-8).[2] He was known by his fellow guerrillas by the codenames "Paulo" and "Henrique".[3] He married fellow militant Sônia Maria Morais Angel Jones,[2] who would later die in the custody of the military dictatorship's political police.

Stuart was arrested in the neighborhood of Grajaú, Rio de Janeiro, near Av. 28 de Setembro, around 9 a.m. on June 14, 1971, by officers of the Aeronautics Information Center (Centro de Informações da Aeronáutica – CISA).[2] He was then taken under custody to CISA headquarters, where he was reportedly tortured. According to political prisoner Alex Polari, who claimed to have witnessed the incident, Stuart was then tied to the back of a jeep with his mouth glued to the vehicle's exhaust pipe and dragged through the courtyard of the Aeronautics headquarters, resulting in his death by asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.[1][2] His body was never found.


Alex Polari wrote a letter to Zuzu Angel explaining the circumstances of her son's death.[1][2] Based on Polari's letter and other evidence, Angel denounced the murder to Ted Kennedy, who revealed the case during a speech at the United States Senate.[2] Angel also handed to then Secretary of State of the United States, Henry Kissinger, a letter she wrote herself,[1] a translation of Polari's letter, and a copy of the twentieth volume of the book History of the Brazilian Republic by Hélio Silva, in which Stuart's death is discussed.[2] According to Silva, among the reactions of the regime to the protests of the American-Brazilian community were the removal and subsequent retirement of Brigadier João Paulo Burnier, who Polari accused of being responsible for Stuart's death,[4] and the dismissal of then Minister of Aeronautics, Márcio de Sousa Melo.[2]


Zuzu Angel was killed in a car crash on April 14, 1976.[1] The suddenness of her death raised suspicions of further government involvement; the case was investigated by the Comissão de Mortos e Desaparecidos Políticos (Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances), under process number 237/96, who found many reasons to doubt the official version of events.[5]

Homages and cultural references[edit]

Stuart Angel is the patron of Juventude Revolucionária 8 de Outubro, MR-8's youth branch. MR-8 is now a faction of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

Stuart's probable death by asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning was referred in the lyrics of the song "Cálice", written by Chico Buarque and Gilberto Gil.[6] In homage to Zuzu Angel, and other mothers who were unable to bury their children, Buarque wrote the song "Angélica" in 1977.

In 2006, the events surrounding Stuart's death were dramatised in the film Zuzu Angel, directed by Sérgio Rezende. The movie, in which Daniel de Oliveira plays Stuart, is about Zuzu's struggle to find out the truth of her son's death.[7]

The Tunnel Dois Irmãos, which connects Gávea to São Conrado, the same place where Zuzu's car crashed, was renamed after her.

In 2006, a film based on Zuzu Angel's life was released in Brazil. The title character was played by Patrícia Pillar.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Zuzu Angel" (Portuguese). UOL Educação. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Stuart Edgar Angel Jones" (Portuguese). Tortura Nunca Mais. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  3. ^ "Stuart Edgar Angel Jones" (Portuguese). Eremias Delizoicov. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  4. ^ "Notorious Graduates from Brazil". School of the Americas Watch. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  5. ^ "Direito à Memória e à Verdade" (in Portuguese). Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos da Presidência da República. 2007. pp. 414–6. Archived from the original on December 5, 2007. 
  6. ^ "'Bebida amarga' não era metáfora em 'Cálice'" (Portuguese). Futepoca. January 29, 2010.
  7. ^ Leite, Paulo Moreira. "Zuzu Angel até parece novela mas é um bom filme" at the Wayback Machine (archived June 14, 2007) (Portuguese). O Estado de S. Paulo. August 17, 2006. Archived from the original on June 14, 2007.

External links[edit]