Yma Sumac

Yma Sumac, the improbable singing star of the 1950s who claimed to possess a five-octave vocal range and ancestors who could be traced back to the Incas, died Nov. 1, 2008, at an assisted-living home in Los Angeles after an eight-month bout with colon cancer. She was 86. Ms. Sumac's career was suffused with self-manufactured mystery. She was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo on Sept. 13, 1922 (other accounts say 1927), in Ichocán, Cajamarca, Peru, but a popular story that circulated during her heyday had her beginning life as Brooklynite Amy Camus. In the early years of her career, she went by Imma Sumack, Ymma Sumack and Ima Sumack. All the names were based on her mother's name which was derived from Ima Shumaq, Quechua for "how beautiful." She capitalized on the Inca lineage story by dressing in the manner of an exotic princess, and made a movie called "Secret of the Incas" with Charlton Heston.

Read More
  • Born: Sep 13, 1922 in Peru
  • Death: Nov 1, 2008 in Los Angeles, California