The Imperatriz Leopoldinense, founded in 1959, remained a small, marginal samba school in the Carioca Carnaval until 1980. In that year, the wealth of its newly appointed president of honor, Luisinho Drummond, assured its first championship, followed by another one the next year. In 1989 the samba school won the contest again, having the samba-enredo "Liberdade, Liberdade, Abre as Asas Sobre Nós" included in the gallery of classics of the genre. The Imperatriz dominated the Carnaval in the '90s and later, winning five championships (1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2001) and two vice-championships (1993 and 1996). The efficacy of the school's strategy among the jurors, heavily based in the luxury and sophistication of its parades, has been considered of low popular and artistic merit.
The dissolution of the Recreio de Ramos samba school, which had as its members Armando Marçal, Pixinguinha, Heitor dos Prazeres, Alcebíades Barcelos (Bide), Amaury Jorio, Mano Décio da Viola, and others, evidenced the necessity of another samba school in the region encompassed by the Leopoldina railroad, in the Carioca working-class suburbs. That was when Amaury Jorio invited sambistas from Ramos and environs to create the Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school. Founded at March 3, 1959, by Jorio, Oswaldo Gomes Pereira, Elísio Pereira de Mello, Aloísio Soares Braga, José da Silva, Jorge Costa, Jorge Salaman, Agenor Gomes Pereira, Vicente Venâncio da Conceição, Manoel Vieira, Manoel Hermogenes dos Santos, Arlindo de Oliveira Lima, Nair dos Santos Vaz, Nair da Silva, Francisco José Femandes, Claudionor Belizário, and others, the Imperatriz Leopoldinense had as its headquarters for seven years Jorio's home at the Dr. Euclides Faria 22 Street, Ramos. The first parade, in 1960, was at the third division (Grupo 3), and in the next year the school won the title, being admitted in the second division (Grupo 2). Until 1980 the samba school would oscillate inexpressively between Grupos 2 and 3, but in that year Jorio invited the banqueiro do bicho (powerful owner of the numbers game) Luisinho Drummond to be the school's president of honor. Drummond's first act was to buy the definitive headquarters for the school to rehearse and to fundraise.
Next, Drummond hired the famous carnavalesco (Carnaval parade organizer) Arlindo Rodrigues. In that same year the Imperatriz became champion of the Carioca Carnaval, tied with Beija-Flor and Portela with the plot (enredo) "O Que É Que a Bahia Tem?" In 1981, the Imperatriz won the contest again, this time alone, with the enredo "O Teu Cabelo Não Nega," dedicated to Lamartine Babo. From then on, the samba school would become a key participant in the Carioca Carnaval contests with several championships and vice-championships won in the '90s and beyond. The championships and enredos were: 1994 -- "Catarina de Médicis na Corte dos Tupinambôs e Tabajeres"; 1995 -- "Mais Vale um Jegue que me Carregue que um Camelo que me Derrube lá no Ceará"; 1999 -- "Brasil, Mostra a sua Cara em...Theatrum Rerum Naturalium Brasiliae"; 2000 -- "Quem Descobriu o Brasil, foi Seu Cabral, no dia 22 de Abril, Dois Meses Depois do Carnaval"; and 2001 -- "Cana-Caiana, Cana Roxa, Cana Fita, Cana Preta, Amarela, Pernambuco...Quero vê Descê o Suco, na Pancada do Ganzá." ~ Alvaro Neder, Rovi