Paulo Gustavo, Comedian Who Lampooned Brazilian Mothers, Dies at 42


Condolence statements came in a torrent, including one from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has played down the threat of Covid-19 and disparaged gay people. “His talent and charisma earned the affection of all Brazilians,” Mr. Bolsonaro wrote.

Mr. de Barros is survived by his husband, Thales Bretas, a dermatologist whom he married in 2015. He is also survived by his parents, Déa Lúcia Vieira Amaral, a retired schoolteacher, and Júlio Márcio Monteiro de Barros; and by two children, Gael and Romeu, both one year old, born to surrogate mothers in the United States.

Mr. de Barros was born in Niterói on Oct. 30, 1978. After studying acting at Casa das Artes de Laranjeiras in Rio de Janeiro, he made his debut as Dona Hermínia in a play he wrote, “My Mother Is a Character.” It was a hit, drawing more than 100,000 theatergoers in 2006 and 2007.


In the play, and in the film adaptation, which he produced and wrote, Dona Hermínia, an overbearing mother whose husband abandons her for a younger woman, leaves home abruptly, leaving her children perplexed. She seeks refuge at the home of a beloved aunt, with whom she shares her sorrows and frustrations.

The movie was also a hit, and was followed by two sequels.

Late last year, during one of his final television appearances, Mr. de Barros urged Brazilians to take care of themselves during the pandemic and to find solace in the arts.

“Laughter is an act of resistance,” he said. “We’re needing these annoying masks now to protect our face from this virus, and unfortunately these masks hide something very precious for us Brazilians: our smile.”

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