Remembered as the first Brazilian politician to serve as governor of two states, this Democratic Labour Party politician led Rio Grande do Sul from 1959 until 1963 and Rio de Janeiro from 1983 until 1987 and again from 1991 until 1994.
Before beginning his political career, he earned a degree in civil engineering. He entered politics in 1946 as a member of the Rio Grande State Assembly; a decade later, he took office as Mayor of Porto Alegre.
He served as vice president of an organization known as Socialist International.
His marriage to Neusa Goulart Brizola resulted in children named Joao Otavio, Neusinha, and Jose Vicente. His brother-in-law,
He, like World Cup championship-winning soccer player Bebeto, had a political career as a member of Brazil's Democratic Labour Party.