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The telenovela conquered its place as a mass medium, able to mobilize a sizable audience, with the very successful broadcasting of “O Direito de Nascer" (The Right to Be Born). Requested by a cosmetic company, it was the product of a contract between an advertising agency and TV Tupi. The first episode aired on December 7, 1964, at the nine-thirty p.m. time slot. The final episode on August 13, 1965 was celebrated by a huge crowd that filled a soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro to share this moment with the characters of the soap. Instead of the usual soccer chanting, people cried for their favorite characters and chanted their names. It was the proof that advertisers and TV executives needed to establish the soap as a cornerstone of TV programming. After such success, TV stations started to show three to four novelas daily (Fernandes, 1994).

Tufte (1995) explains that telenovelas are part of Brazilian culture, to the extent that “most Brazilians have been born with novelas as part of their everyday life” (p.30). In his analysis of telenovelas in Brazil he reports:

In 6-8 consecutive months a telenovela is screened daily, six days a week. Three, four or even five telenovelas are screened everyday, just on TV Globo, the largest TV network in Brazil. Average ratings are 50-55, often reaching peaks of 60, 70 and even more. If the multitude of secondary media texts in radio, TV and print media, telenovela constitute a genre that has a popularity, a presence and an influence on everyday life, that must be difficult to find likewise any other place in the world.

Since the mid 1960s-1970s telenovelas in Brazil began taking distinct characteristics and flavor. Researchers agree that the landmark of a new mode of creating and performing soaps, the Brazilian way, was a telenovela produced and launched by TV Tupi called "Beto Rockfeller", which aired for one year from 1968-1969 (Hippolyte-Ortega, 1998; Távola, 1996; Mattelart & Mattellart 1990; Straubhaar, 1982; Fernandes, 1994). "Beto Rockfeller" (Luis Gustavo) was a charming young man who worked in a shoe store, but through his socialite girlfriend could infiltrate into the upper class, passing as a millionaire. The name was no coincidence. Beto was the representation of a working class individual, while Rockfeller, meant the sophisticated, smooth player. His heart was divided between two female characters, Cida (Ana Rosa) who is his girlfriend from the neighborhood, and Lu (Débora Duarte) the rich girl (Fernandes, 1994). Bráulio Pedroso, the telenovela's author, brought the colloquial adventures of an urban anti-hero to the small screen. The author implemented many innovations, beginning with the choice of protagonist. Instead of the courageous, above all evil hero of past melodramatic productions, Beto was a cheating, manipulative, but adorable character who used many tricks to infiltrate Rio's high society. The style of the novela was as close to reality as possible, unlike the more pompous and erudite style of previous telenovela work. The director, Lima Duarte, gave the actors more freedom to interpret their characters. He allowed more room for improvisation, more use of outdoor locations, and a faster narrative. (Ortiz et al., 1991; Fernandes, 1994; Mattelart & Mattelart, 1990).



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