Rita Hayworth (1918-1987)
Rita Hayworth was a glamorous American film actress who rose to fame during the 1940's not only as a top movie star, but also as one of the great sex symbols of Hollywood's Golden Age, becoming known as 'The Love Goddess'.
As well as her great beauty Rita Hayworth was also an extremely talented dancer with great technique, stamina and rhythm, and whom many felt was the best on-screen partner of Fred Astaire. Over her 37 year career Rita Hayworth appeared in 61 movies and is listed at number 19 in the American Film Institute's List of Greatest Stars of All Time.Search Amazon for Rita Hayworth
BiographyShe was born Margarita Carmen Dolores Cansino on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, and she was destined to be a dancer. Her father was Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino and her grandfather was Antonio Cansino, whose dancing school in Madrid had been world-famous. ... soon as she could walk she was given dancing lessons and she her natural talent soon showed through. When Rita was eight her family moved to Hollywood and opened a dancing school. When she was thirteen Rita became part of her parents' stage act 'The Dancing Cansinos', which performed in Tijuana and in offshore gambling ships. Her energy and burgeoning talent were apparent and after catching the eye of the vice-president of the Fox Film Corporation, she was offered a screen test and and at the age of 17 in 1935 signed a six month movie contract.
She made her feature film debut, still under the name Rita Cansino in 'Dante's Inferno' starring Spencer Tracy in 1935 and made four other very average films with Fox. When she was 18 in 1937 Rita eloped with her first husband, businessman, Ed Judson and with his help Rita was able to sign a contract with Columbia Pictures when her Fox contract was not renewed. Her name was changed at this time to her mother's family name of Hayworth and she began the process of transforming the alluring Latin girl into the glamorous Hollywood superstar. She followed the studio's suggestions regarding new makeup, hair color, nose reshaping and electrolysis treatment to raise her hairline.
After appearing in a number of minor 'B' movies in 1937 and 1938 Rita was offered a small but vital part in 1939 in 'Only Angels Have Wings', playing opposite Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. The movie was a major success and the public clamoured for more of the beautiful redhead. Columbia continued grooming her in several minor movies in 1940 and then in 1941 loaned her out to Warner Brothers to appear in 'The Strawberry Blonde' with James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland. Again the movie was a great success and Rita's stock rose even higher. After another success as an important supporting player in 'Blood and Sand' in 1941, Rita became a fully fledged Hollywood star later that year, with her appearance dancing with Fred Astaire in 'You'll Never Get Rich.' Rita's exceptional dancing was showcased in a follow up with Astaire the following year 'You Were Never Lovelier'. Astaire was to comment privately that Rita was his favorite dancing partner.
Rita was now one of the foremost actresses in Hollywood. She had her first leading role in 'My Gal Sal' in 1942, and co-starred with Ginger Rogers and Charles Boyer, in 'Tales of Manhattan' in the same year. With America in WWII after Pearl Harbor, Rita became one of the servicemen's most popular pinup girls, second only to Betty Grable. During the war years she made many appearances for servicemen at the Hollywood Canteen and she appeared in many of the USO troop revues.
Rita's marriage to Judson was ending and she started to date the young genius of Hollywood, the director and star of 'Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, whom she married in September, 1943. In 1944 Rita reached the peak of her fame with one of her best-known films, the musical 'Cover Girl', with Gene Kelly, in which an ordinary chorus girl is transformed before the audience's eyes into a beautiful actress and successful musical star. She and Orson Welles separated in 1945 but her successes continued with 'Gilda' in 1946, the movie that she is best remembered by. She became famous as a sexual temptress by her rendition of "Put the Blame on Mame" whilst doing a "striptease". The scene was seductive enough to cause a problem with the censors although all she actually takes off is one glove. The film was a box office sensation and made Rita one of the best known stars in the world.
After another success in 1947 with 'Down To Earth', Rita starred opposite her husband, Orson Welles and gave one of her most polished performances, in the noir film 'The Lady from Shanghai' which came out in 1948. The movie is now considered a classic but it did not do well on its release, attributed in part to Rita appearing with short blonde hair instead of her trademark long auburn locks.
Her next movie was also in 1948 and was yet another success for Rita. 'The Loves of Carmen' with Glenn Ford, was the first film co-produced by Columbia together with Rita's own newly formed production company, The Beckworth Corporation and it became Columbia's biggest moneymaker for that year.
Bt this time Rita had become known as "The Love Goddess" and after her divorce from Welles, in 1948, her third marriage did nothing to dispel that image. In May 1949 she married Prince Ali Khan, one of the richest men in the world, and son of the Aga Khan. She settled with her new husband in Europe and in December 1949 she gave birth to Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. It appeared to be the ideal fairytale combination of Hollywood glamour and European royalty, but it did not last. The lifestyle of a royal wife did not appeal to Rita and she split from Khan in 1951 and they officially divorced in 1953. Rita returned to Hollywood with her two daughters and resumed her career. She had been away for 4 years and would never again reach those earlier dizzy heights of fame and adulation but she had not been forgotten.
She appeared in a string of movies which were all hits: 'Affair in Trinidad' in 1952 with Glenn Ford, her neighbour and favorite co-star, 'Salome' the following year with Charles Laughton and Stewart Granger, and 'Miss Sadie Thompson' also in 1953 with Josť Ferrer and Aldo Ray.
Rita then entered into a period of personal difficulties due mainly to her new husband, Argentinean singer Dick Haymes, whom she married in September, 1953. Haymes was deeply in debt to the IRS and to his ex-wives, and Rita's world descended into a round of litigation, court appearances and physical violence from the troubled and unpredictable singer. After two stress filled years she was granted a divorce from Haymes in December 1955.
After a break in Europe to recuperate Rita, who was still under contract to Columbia, returned to filmmaking in 1956 to star in 'Fire Down Below' with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon. In the same year she made what would be her last musical, 'Pal Joey' with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, after which she finally left Columbia after 20 years. For the fifth and final time she tried marriage again, marrying screenwriter and producer James Hill in 1958. She worked with Hill on 'Separate Tables' in 1958 with Burt Lancaster and David Niven. The movie was a very successful and was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture. Rita also made 'The Happy Thieves' in 1962 with Hill but they divorced after only three years.
Hayworth went on to earn a Golden Globe nomination for her performance opposite John Wayne and Claudia Cardinale in "Circus World" in 1964 and in 1966 she apeared in 'The Money Trap' and 'The Poppy Is Also a Flower' but, although she made some low budget films in Europe and appeared on a number of television shows, her days as a number one star were behind her. Her appetite for filming had gone and she had serious health issues to consider. In 1972 she made her last film, 'The Wrath of God'. After that her appearances in public became less frequent and it became known that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It is likely that she had been suffering with the early stages for many years but it had been thought that her erratic behaviour and difficulty in remembering her lines was due to her acknowledged drinking problem and not disease.
In 1981 her daughter, Princess Yasmin, moved Rita into her home in New York and looked after her as the dementia took hold. Princess Yasmin has since become an active promoter of Alzheimer's awareness. Rita Hayworth died peacefully in her daughter's apartment in Manhattan on May 14, 1987, aged 68 years.
Rita Hayworth Academy AwardsNo Nominations:
Rita Hayworth Filmography
La fiesta (uncredited)
Cruz Diablo (uncredited)
Under the Pampas Moon (as Rita Cansino)
Charlie Chan in Egypt (as Rita Cansino)
Dante's Inferno (as Rita Cansino)
Piernas de seda (uncredited)
Hi, Gaucho! (uncredited)
Paddy O'Day (as Rita Cansino)
Professional Soldier (uncredited)
Dancing Pirate (uncredited)
Meet Nero Wolfe (as Rita Cansino)
Treason (as Rita Cansino)
Hit the Saddle (as Rita Cansino)
Trouble in Texas (as Rita Cansino)
Criminals of the Air
Girls Can Play
The Game That Kills
Life Begins with Love (uncredited)
Hard to Hold
The Circus Shadow
Who Killed Gail Preston?
There's Always a Woman
The Renegade Ranger
The Lone Wolf's Daughter
Only Angels Have Wings
Music in My Heart
Blondie on a Budget
The Gay Mrs. Trexel
The Lady in Question
Angels Over Broadway
The Strawberry Blonde
Blood and Sand
You'll Never Get Rich
My Gal Sal
Tales of Manhattan
You Were Never Lovelier
Tonight and Every Night
Down to Earth
The Lady from Shanghai
The Loves of Carmen
Affair in Trinidad
Miss Sadie Thompson
Fire Down Below
The Story on Page One
They Came to Cordura
The Happy Thieves
The Magnificent Showman
The Money Trap
Danger Grows Wild
Road to Salina
The Naked Zoo
The Wrath of God