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'Too sexy' for the Rio airport? Why Iris Lettieri's voice drew so much attention

In 1993, The National was able to find out just who was making those very memorable announcements at the Rio de Janeiro airport.

Airport announcer's voice turned heads, but not all travellers were on board with its 'sexy' sound

In 1993, some people felt the voice announcing the flights at a Rio de Janeiro airport was "too sexy." 2:22

That voice at the international airport in Rio de Janeiro. Who was it? 

It was a question many men were asking, according to what Marina Mirabella reported on The National in December of 1993.

"The deep, breathless voice of the flight announcer is unlike anything these travellers have ever heard," Mirabella told viewers, in a report that heard various men describing that voice as "unusual," "sexy" and above all, attention-getting. 

"Whenever the voice oozes out over the airport intercom, men turn their heads," Mirabella continued. "The information counter has been inundated with questions."

This man was a fan of Iris Lettieri's airport announcements, describing her voice "wonderful" and "sexy." (The National/CBC Archives)

There were some travellers, however, who did not like the announcements. They preferred a less sultry sound from the overhead speakers.

"I think it's too sexy," said one woman, who laughed when sharing that opinion with The National

But who was it?

Iris Lettieri, the woman who read the flight announcements at the international airport in Rio de Janeiro, said she was trying to sound soothing to travellers who were nervous about flying. (The National/CBC Archives)

Mirabella spoke to an airport employee, who said the identity of the woman reading off the flight names was a constant curiosity. 

Viewers of The National found out exactly who the voice was: Iris Lettieri, a 51-year-old former actress who had been reading out flight information since the airport opened in 1977.

Over the years, she'd heard from hundreds of fans who wrote letters to her, many of whom wanted to meet her.

Mirabella said Lettieri was "not trying to be sexy." Rather, she was trying to be helpful to the people waiting for their flights.

Airport officials said travellers listened to what Iris Lettieri was saying and to them, that was what mattered most about her voice. (The National/CBC Archives)

"A lot of travellers are nervous about flying," she told The National, in remarks translated to English. "I'm just using a soothing voice to calm them."

Airport officials said the bottom line was that travellers listened to what Lettieri said, and in their opinion, Mirabella said "that's what counts."