Hayworth, Rita: 1918–1987: Actor, Dancer, Producer

views updated Jun 27 2018

Rita Hayworth: 19181987: Actor, dancer, producer

Called "the fiery epitome of screen sensuality," by People magazine, Rita Hayworth became one of America's most popular and famous actresses of the 1940s and beyond, known for her grace, her beauty, and her amazing dancing ability. Born Margarita Cansino on October 17, 1918 in Brooklyn, NY, Hay-worth was part of a family descending from a long line of performers. When she was nine years old and the Vaudevillian scene was breaking up, Hayworth's family moved to Los Angeles. There her parentsEduardo, a vaudevillian performer, dance instructor, and director, and Volga Haworth, a Ziegfield Follies showgirlencouraged her to follow in the family line and started her in acting and dancing lessons. Hayworth's father at this time moved from Vaudeville performing to being a dancer and director for several Hollywood movie dance scenes.

While Hayworth was busy learning the family business, she also went to the Carthay School where she had parts in a few school plays, including a stage prologue for the movie Back Street at the Carthay Circle Theater. She then spent one year at Hamilton High before, in ninth grade, her schooling was halted when she became her dad's dancing partner. Called the "Dancing Cansinos," they performed up to 20 times per week. The show traveled throughout Mexico and California until Fox Film Corporation spotted Hayworth in Agua Caliente, Mexico. Because of her grace and beauty she was invited by Fox Films, at age 16, to begin her career in film, acting in B-grade movies. Although her screen debut was with her family in La Fiesta in 1932, her first film by herself was Dante's Inferno. Hayworth was billed on the film as Rita Cansino. The movie wasn't popular, but it brought her to the attention of Fox Film bigwigs and Hayworth was given a year-long contract. For this one year Hayworth held small, ethnic parts in movies such as Charlie Chan in Egypt, 1935, Under the Pampas Moon, 1935, Paddy O'Day, 1935, and Human Cargo, 1936. Her contract was not renewed, and Hayworth was forced to take a line of small parts playing Mexican and Indian girls for very little money.

When Hayworth was 18 she married Edward C. Judson, a man who was a car salesman and businessman and soon became Hayworth's manager. Judson is said by the Encyclopedia of World Biography to have transformed Hayworth, changing her from a dark Latin girl into a red-headed sophisticate. Hayworth altered her hairline and eyebrows with electrolysis and changed her name to Rita Hayworth (This was a variation on her mother's maiden name, with the 'y' added to help pronunciation). Her new look brought her speedily into the public eye and garnered her a seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures. After a string of small parts in low-budget movies, Hayworth was finally given a leading role, portraying an unfaithful wife in Only Angels Have Wings, 1939, alongside Cary Grant. After that she was seen in movies such as Strawberry Blonde, 1941, with James Cagney, and Blood and Sand, 1941, with Tyrone Power.

At a Glance . . .

Born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, NY; died on May 14, 1987, in New York, NY; daughter of Eduardo and Volga Haworth Cansino; married: Edward C. Judson, 1936 (divorced, 1943); married Orson Welles, 1943 (divorced, 1948); married Prince Aly Khan, 1949 (divorced, 1951); married Dick Haymes, 1953 (divorced, 1955); married James Hill, 1958 (divorced, 1961): children: Rebecca, Yasmin.

Career: Actress. (as Rita Cansino): A Dancing Cansino, Anna Case with the Dancing Cansinos, 1926;Cruz Diablo, 1934; Dante's Inferno, 1935; Paddy O'Day, 1935; Dancing Pirate, 1936; Rebellion, 1936; (as Rita Hayworth): Girls Can Play, 1937; The Shadow, 1937; Juvenile Court, 1938; The Renegade Ranger, 1938; Who Killed Gail Preston?, 1938; Only Angels Have Wings, 1939; Angels Over Broadway, 1940; The Lady in Question, 1940; Blondie on a Budget, 1940; The Strawberry Blonde, 1941; My Gal Sal, 1942; Show Business at War, 1943; Cover Girl, 1944; Tonight and Every Night, 1945; Gilda, 1946; Down to Earth, 1947; The Loves of Carmen, 1948; The Lady from Shanghai, 1948; Champagne Safari, 1952; Miss Sadie Thompson, 1953; Salome, 1953; Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Grows Up, 1954; Fire Down Below, 1957; Pal Joey, 1957; Separate Tables, 1958; The Story on Page One, 1959; The Happy Thieves, 1962; Circus World, 1964; The Money Trap, 1965; Poppies Are Also Flowers, 1966; L'Avventuriero, 1967; The Carol Burnett Show, 1967; I Bastardi, 1968; The Naked Zoo, 1971; Road to Salina, 1971; The Wrath of God, 1972; That's Action, 1977. Producer: The Loves of Carmen, 1948; Affair in Trinidad, 1952; Salome, 1953; The Happy Thieves, 1962.

Awards: Nominated Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion PictureDrama for Circus World, 1965.

It was, however, in 1941's You'll Never Get Rich in which Hayworth starred with Fred Astaire, that Hay-worth began her ascent into the heights of stardom. It has even been said that Fred Astaire called Rita Hay-worth his favorite dancing partner, not his more popularly known partner Ginger Rogers. For this part she appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was labeled "The Great American Love Goddess" by Life. The next year she made three hit movies, My Gal Sal, 1942, Tales of Manhattan, 1942, and You Were Never Lovelier, 1942, her only other movie with Fred Astaire. Although her career was becoming more and more successful, her marriage was notshe divorced Edward Judson in 1942.

Also in 1942 Hayworth married Orson Welles, the famous actor, director, and screenwriter. With him she had a daughter, Rebecca, and life was looking up for the new mother and increasingly popular lead actress. In 1944 she starred alongside Gene Kelly in Cover Girl. As a promotion Life had an article about the actress along with a seductive picture of her wearing black lace and satin which was infamous in World War II as an American servicemen's pinup picture. American Decades quoted Times magazine as having noted that "intended as the ultimate compliment, the picture was even pasted to a test atomic bomb that was dropped on Bikini atoll in 1946." As her celebrity rose, she started acting in better films. In 1945 she was seen in Tonight and Every Night, and in 1946 she took the leading role in the movie Gilda, the part that scandalized more conservative viewers because of a seductive strip scene, and the part which eventually became Hayworth's best known. According to The Daily Mail, it was Hayworth's part in Gilda that sealed her "screen goddess reputation." Another movie of hers done around this time, Down to Earth, was even included in a 20th century time capsule even though it received mixed reviews.

In 1948 Hayworth starred in The Lady From Shanghai alongside her husband Orson Welles who was also the director of the film. Although that seems rather nice, this was actually the end of Hayworth's relationship with Welles, she was in the process of divorcing him as they made the film. After making The Loves of Carmen, 1948, Hayworth married her third husband, Prince Aly Kahn in 1949. This marriage shocked the nation and brought Hayworth a little ways out of her popularity. Hayworth and Prince Aly Kahn had been having an affair even though they were both married, and she was already pregnant with their daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn when they were married. Unfortunately this marriage ended, and the two were divorced in 1953.

At this point her career was beginning to fade. She never quite recovered from the scandal of her affair and marriage. She made the movies Affair in Trinidad, 1952, Salome, 1953, and Miss Sadie Thompson, 1953 and then was married again in 1953 to the singer Dick Haymes. The marriage was doomed to failure as Haymes beat Hayworth and was said to have tried capitalizing on her fame to bring back his failing career. The marriage ended in 1955. After her divorce she made the film Fire Down Below, 1957 and had a supporting role in 1957's Pal Joey, with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak playing the leads. In 1958 Hayworth, although acclaimed for her part in Separate Tables, 1958, faced a career that was definitely on a downward spiral. It was at this time that she married for the fifth time, marrying producer James Hill. This marriage too ended in divorce, with Hayworth leaving him in 1961. She was quoted in People as having said, "Most men fell in love with Gilda but they woke up with me." Hayworth began to doubt that she would ever have a happy and successful relationship and she thought that one of the biggest problems was the fact that men went to bed with the image of glamour and sophistication shown in parts like Gilda and then woke in the morning with the real her. According to Barbara Learning, Hayworth's biographer, however, Hayworth's troubles with men were caused by her abusive relationship with her father. Although unknown prior to his, it seems that her father "raped [Hayworth] in the afternoons and danced with her at night." Whatever the problem really was, Hayworth never married again.

Hayworth's last string of films included such films as They Came to Cordura, 1959, The Story on Page One, 1960, The Poppy Is Also a Flower, 1967, I Bastardi, 1968, The Naked Zoo, 1971, and The Wrath of God, 1972. She attempted, in 1971, to perform on stage but couldn't do so because she could not remember her lines. It was about this time that people started realizing that there was something seriously wrong with Hayworth. Alzheimer's disease wasn't well known at the time, and there were a myriad of different diagnoses for what was wrong with the once famous actress. In 1981 she was declared unable to take care of herself, and for the next 6 years, until her death on May 14, 1987, her daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn took care of her. Although she had been missing from the public eye for almost two decades, the public felt Hayworth's death, and the once called "American Goddess" will not be forgotten anytime soon. In 2000, according to PR Newswire, Sony Pictures Consumer Products and Hayworth's daughter Princess Yasmin unveiled the first Rita Hay-worth as Gilda Collector Doll. As Interview magazine said about why modern movie stars don't reach the heights of actresses like Rita Hayworth, "Hayworth's skin glows, her eyes beam with pleasure, her hair spills around her face like a river of luxuryit is impossible not to look at her, or long to know her, or want to be like her."



American Decades CD-ROM, Gale Research, 1998.

Contemporary Newsmakers 1987, Gale Research, 1988.

Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale Research, 1996.

DISCovering Biography, Gale Research, 1997.

DISCovering Multicultural America, Gale Research, 1996.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale Research, 1998.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.

Learning Barbara, If This Was Happiness, Viking, 1989.

Notable Hispanic American Women, Book 1, Gale Research, 1993.

The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 2: 1986-1990, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.


The Daily Mail (London, England), November 19, 2001, p. 43.

Entertainment Weekly, Fall, 1996, p. 48.

Interview, September, 2001, p. 72.

Ladies Home Journal, January, 1983, p. 84.

The New York Times, February 8, 2002, p. E28.

People, June 1, 1987.

PR Newswire, September 26, 2000.



Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com


Catherine Victoria Donaldson

Rita Hayworth

views updated May 14 2018

Rita Hayworth

In the 1930s, Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) was confined to leads in "B" pictures, but through much of the 1940s she became the undisputed sex goddess of Hollywood films and the hottest star at Columbia Studios.

Whether illuminating the screen with a song and dance or beaming from a magazine photo, Rita Hayworth was an unforgettable sight. Capitalizing on her inherited beauty and talent to become a legendary motion picture star, Hayworth captured the hearts of countless American servicemen during the 1940s. At her peak, she epitomized American beauty, and her career produced several memorable moments: dance routines with Fred Astaire in You'll Never Get Rich (1941); a glamorous photo in Life magazine; a scandalous striptease in Gilda (1946); and mature sophistication in The Lady From Shanghai (1949). While Hayworth's death in 1987 saddened America, it alerted the nation to the plight of those threatened by Alzheimer's disease, the illness that slowly killed her.

Born Margarita Carmen Cansino to Eduardo and Volga Haworth Cansino on October 17, 1918, in New York City, Rita Hayworth was no stranger to show business. Her father, a headliner on vaudeville, was descended from a line of famous Spanish dancers, and her mother, a Ziegfeld showgirl, came from a family of English actors. When the girl was nine years old, the family moved to Los Angeles, California, where the motion picture industry was rapidly growing. There, Eduardo taught dancing and directed dance scenes for various studios. She began her education at the Carthay School and later spent her first and only year of high school at Hamilton High. Throughout her school years, she continued family tradition by taking acting and dancing lessons.

At eleven, the girl found her first acting role in a school play, and by 1932, she had made her professional debut. She appeared in a stage prologue for the movie Back Street at Carthay Circle Theater. At this point, Eduardo Cansino decided that his attractive twelve-year-old daughter was ready for work. The perfect dance partner, she was introduced as Eduardo's wife when they danced at the Foreign Club in Tijuana, Mexico, for a year and a half, and then later on a gambling boat off California's coast. The "Dancing Cansinos" performed twenty times per week.

Makes Film Debut in Dante's Inferno

Rita Cansino, as she was called during this time, received her first big break when she was noticed dancing with her father in Agua Caliente, Mexico. Winfield R. Sheehan of the Fox Film Corporation hired the young woman, then sixteen, for a role in a movie starring Spencer Tracy entitled Dante's Inferno (1935). Though the film was not successful, Rita Cansino was given a year-long contract with Fox. During this year she held minor, ethnic roles in the motion pictures Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), Under the Pampas Moon (1935), Paddy O'Day (1935), and Human Cargo (1936), in which she played Egyptian, Argentinean, Irish, and Russian dancers respectively. When her contract expired and was not renewed, the actress spent a year playing Mexican and Indian girls; she earned $100 for each role.

When Rita Cansino was 18, she married Edward C. Judson, a car salesman, oil man, and businessman who became her manager. According to the New York Times, Judson "transformed" the actress "from a raven-haired Latin to an auburn-haired cosmopolitan" by altering Rita's hairline and eyebrows with electrolysis and changing her professional name. Rita Cansino took her mother's maiden name, added a "y" to ensure its proper pronunciation, and became Rita Hayworth. Magazines and newspapers captured the image of the new Rita, who won the favor of Harry Cohn and a seven-year contract with his Columbia Pictures.

After fourteen low-budget movies, Hayworth was finally given a leading role. She was hired by Howard W. Hawks to portray an unfaithful wife in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), which starred Cary Grant. Good reviews of her performance attracted attention: she was borrowed from Columbia by Warner Brothers Pictures for the film Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney, and in that same year, she made Blood and Sand (1941) with Fox. Hayworth began to shine. According to Time, "something magical happened when the cameras began to roll"; the woman who was "shy" and "unassuming" offstage "warmed the set." The New York Times wrote that Hayworth "rapidly developed into one of Hollywood's most glamorous stars."

Hayworth achieved celebrity status when she starred as Fred Astaire's dance partner in You'll Never Get Rich (1941) for Columbia. She appeared on the cover of Time and was dubbed "The Great American Love Goddess" by Winthrop Sargent in Life. In 1942, she made three hit movies: My Gal Sal, Tales of Manhattan and You Were Never Lovelier, with Fred Astaire. As her career skyrocketed, however, Hayworth's marriage failed; she divorced Edward Judson that same year.

Marries Orson Welles

During the early forties, Hayworth's personal life improved and she established her professional allure. She married Orson Welles, the famous actor, director, and screenwriter, in 1943; they had a daughter, Rebecca, two years later. Hayworth was earning more than $6,000 a week as Columbia's leading actress. After she starred in Cover Girl (1944) with Gene Kelly, Life presented a seductive photograph of the actress wearing black lace which, according to the New York Times, "became famous around the world as an American serviceman's pinup." The Times also noted that, in what was "intended … as the ultimate compliment, the picture was even pasted to a test atomic bomb that was dropped on Bikini atoll in 1946."

Hayworth's fame continued to grow after she made Tonight and Every Night (1945) and Gilda (1946). Of these films, critics contend that Gilda is the most memorable. A scene in which Hayworth sang "Put the Blame on Mame" and stripped off her long, black gloves scandalized conservative viewers. It was testimony to her popularity that her 1947 film, Down to Earth, was included in a twentieth-century time capsule despite the fact that the film itself received some bad reviews.

Hayworth did not mind the attention she garnered. "I like having my picture taken and being a glamorous person," she was quoted as saying in the New York Times. "Sometimes when I find myself getting impatient, I just remember the times I cried my eyes out because nobody wanted to take my picture at the Trocadero." Hayworth's daughter Yasmin Aga Khan confirmed this in People: "Mother was very good with her fans, very giving and patient."

While Hayworth starred as a sophisticated short-haired blonde in The Lady From Shanghai (1948) with her husband Orson Welles—who also directed the movie—she was in the process of divorcing him. She was later quoted in People as saying, "I just can't take his genius anymore," and in Time, she noted, "I'm tired of being a 25-percent wife." After making The Loves of Carmen (1948), she married Prince Aly Kahn, with whom she had been having an affair, in 1949. This was an off-screen scandal, for Hayworth was already pregnant with their daughter, the Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn. Although she was quoted in Time as saying, "The world was magical when you were with him," this marriage did not last as long as her second; the couple divorced in 1953.

Hayworth's career began to wane. After making the movies Affair in Trinidad (1952), Salome (1953), and Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), she once again entered a marriage (1953-1955) that would prove to be unsuccessful as well as destructive. This fourth husband, the singer Dick Haymes, "beat her and tried to capitalize on her fame in an attempt to revive his own failing career," said Barbara Leaming, a Hayworth biographer, in People. While Hayworth came out of her temporary retirement after her divorce to make Fire Down Below (1957), which met with some positive reviews, she had only a supporting role in the film Pal Joey (1957). Failing to maintain her glamour, this movie was Hayworth's final appearance as a contracted actress.

At this point in the actress's life, Hayworth's personal life seemed to parallel her professional career. She married producer James Hill in 1958 and divorced him in 1961. People reported that Hill had wanted Rita to continue to make movies instead of "play golf, paint, tell jokes and have a home." After the failure of this fifth and final marriage, it was apparent that Hayworth did not have good luck with the men in her life. While Hayworth was quoted in People as saying, "Most men fell in love with Gilda but they woke up with me," biographer Barbara Leaming asserted that these "doomed" relationships were due to Hayworth's abusive father, Eduardo Cansino. Leaming told People, "Eduardo raped her [Hayworth] in the afternoons and danced with her at night." In her biography of Hayworth, If This Was Happiness, Leaming elaborates on this revelation, which she says was given to her by Orson Welles.

Develops Alzheimer's Disease

While critics agreed that Hayworth gave one of her best performances as a traitorous American in They Came to Cordura (1959), they also noted that her trademark beauty was fading. As a free-lance actress, Hayworth found fewer roles. The Story on Page One (1960), The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1967), and The Wrath of God (1972) were some of her last films. Hayworth's 1971 attempt to perform on stage was aborted; the actress could not remember her lines.

Biographers, relatives, and friends now believe that the first stages of Alzheimer's disease were responsible for Hayworth's memory lapses, alcoholism, lack of coordination, and poor eyesight during the last three decades of her life. Although Alzheimer's, a disease which was relatively unknown at the time, was not diagnosed as the source of Hayworth's problems, it was obvious that Hayworth was ill. In 1981 she was legally declared unable to care for herself. Her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn provided shelter, care, and love for her mother, and sought to enlighten the public to the symptoms of the obscure neurological disease by helping to organize Alzheimer's Disease International and serving as its president.

Hayworth's mind slowly began to deteriorate. When she died in her New York apartment on May 14, 1987, she did not even know her own family. Nevertheless, the "All-American Love Goddess," as Time called her, was not forgotten by her fans. The New York Times reported at the time of her death that President Ronald Reagan, a former actor, stated: "Rita Hayworth was one of our country's most beloved stars. Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments … and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. [First Lady] Nancy and I are saddened by Rita's death. She was a friend whom we will miss."

Further Reading

Leaming, Barbara, If This Was Happiness, Viking, 1989.

American Film, July, 1986, pp. 69-72.

Good Housekeeping, August, 1983, pp. 118-27; September, 1983, pp. 74-82.

Harper's Bazaar, November, 1989, pp. 156-59.

Ladies' Home Journal, January, 1983, pp. 84-89.

Ms., January, 1991, pp. 35-38.

New York Times, May 16, 1987.

People, November 7, 1983, pp. 112-17; June 1, 1987, pp. 72-79; November 13, 1989, pp. 129-32.

Time, May 25, 1987, p. 76.

Variety, May 20, 1987, pp. 4-6. □

Hayworth, Rita

views updated May 08 2018


Nationality: American. Born: Margarita Carmen Cansino in New York City, 17 October 1918. Education: Attended Hamilton High School, and Carthay School, Los Angeles. Family: Married 1) Edward C. Judson, 1936 (divorced 1942); 2) the director and actor Orson Welles, 1943 (divorced 1948), daughter: Rebecca; 3) Prince Ali Khan, 1949 (divorced 1953), daughter: Princess Yasmin; 4) the singer Dick Haymes, 1953 (divorced 1955); 5) the producer James Hill, 1958 (divorced 1961). Career: 1926—film debut with her family group The Dancing Cansinos in La Fiesta; 1932—professional stage debut in Los Angeles; 1934–35—dancer with her father at Foreign Club, Tijuana, Mexico, and on California gambling boat; 1935—adult film debut in Dante's Inferno, then one-year contract with Fox; 1937—contract with Columbia; 1958—freelance acting career began with Separate Tables, and continued into 1970s. Died: In New York City, 14 May 1987.

Films as Actress:

(as Rita Cansino)


La Fiesta (short) (as Anna Case)


Cruz diablo (The Devil's Cross) (De Fuentes)


Under the Pampas Moon (Tinling) (as Carmen); Charlie Chan in Egypt (King) (as Nayda); Dante's Inferno (Lachman) (as speciality dancer); Paddy O'Day (Seiler) (as Tamana Petrovich); Piernas de seda (Silk Legs) (Boland)


Human Cargo (Dwan) (as Carmen Zorro); Meet Nero Wolfe (Biberman) (as Maria Maningula); Rebellion (Lady from Frisco) (Shores) (as Paula Castillo); A Message to Garcia (Marshall)


Trouble in Texas (Bradbury) (as Carmen); Old Louisianna (Treason) (Willat) (as Angela Gonzales); Hit the Saddle (Wright) (as Rita)

(as Rita Hayworth)


Criminals of the Air (Coleman) (as Rita); Girls Can Play (Hillyer) (as Sue Collins); The Shadow (The Circus Shadow) (Coleman) (as Mary Gillespie); The Game That Kills (Lederman) (as Betty Holland); Paid to Dance (Coleman) (as Betty Morom)


Who Killed Gail Preston? (Barsha) (title role); There's Always a Woman (Hall) (as Mary); Convicted (Barsha) (as Jerry Wheelen); Juvenile Court (Lederman) (as Marcia Adams);The Renegade Ranger (Howard) (as Judith Alvarez); Homicide Bureau (Coleman) (as J. G. Bliss)


The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (The Lone Wolf's Daughter) (Godfrey) (as Karen); Special Inspector (Across the Border) (Barsha) (as Patricia Lane); Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks) (as Judy MacPherson); Music in My Heart (Santley) (as Patricia O'Malley)


Blondie on a Budget (Strayer) (as Jean Forrester); Susan and God (The Gay Mrs. Trexel) (Cukor) (as Leonora Stubbs); The Lady in Question (C. Vidor) (as Natalie Rougin); Angels over Broadway (Hecht and Garmes) (as Nina Barona)


The Strawberry Blonde (Walsh) (as Virginia Bush); Affectionately Yours (Bacon) (as Irene Malcolm); Blood and Sand (Mamoulian) (as Doña Sol); You'll Never Get Rich (Lanfield) (as Sheila Winthrop)


My Gal Sal (Cummings) (as Sally Elliot); Tales of Manhattan (Duvivier) (as Ethel Halloway); You Were Never Lovelier (Seiter) (as Marina Aluna)


Show Business at War


Cover Girl (C. Vidor) (as Rusty Parka/Maribelle Hicks)


Tonight and Every Night (Saville) (as Rosalind Bruce)


Gilda (C. Vidor) (title role)


Down to Earth (Hall) (as Terpsichore/Kitty Pendleton)


The Lady from Shanghai (Welles) (as Elsa Barrister); The Loves of Carmen (C. Vidor) (title role)


Champagne Safari (Leighter—documentary of Hayworth and Khan wedding trip)


Affair in Trinidad (Sherman) (as Chris Emery)


Salome (Dieterle) (title role); Miss Sadie Thompson (Bernhardt) (title role)


Fire Down Below (Parrish) (as Irena); Pal Joey (Sidney) (as Vera Simpson)


Separate Tables (Mann) (as Ann Shankland)


They Came to Cordura (Rossen) (as Adelaide Gears)


The Story on Page One (Odets) (as Jo Morris)


The Happy Thieves (Marshall) (as Eve Lewis)


Circus World (The Magnificent Showman) (Hathaway) (as Lila Alfredo)


The Money Trap (Kennedy) (as Rosalie Kenny); The Poppy Is Also a Flower (Danger Grows Wild) (Young) (as Monique)


The Rover (L'Avventuriero) (Young) (as Caterina)


Sons of Satan (I Bastardi, I gatti; The Cats) (Tessari) (as Martha); Road to Salina (La Route de Salina) (Lautner) (as Mara); The Naked Zoo (The Naked Lovers; The Hallucinators) (Grefé)


The Wrath of God (Nelson) (as Semona de la Plata)


Circle (Seidelman)


On HAYWORTH: books—

Rosen, Marjorie, Popcorn Venus, New York, 1973.

Ringgold, Gene, The Films of Rita Hayworth: The Legend and Career of a Love Goddess, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1974.

Kobal, John, Rita Hayworth: The Time, the Place, and the Woman, New York, 1978.

Hill, James, Rita Hayworth: A Memoir, New York, 1983.

Morella, Joseph, and Edward Z. Epstein, Rita: The Life of Rita Hayworth, New York, 1983.

Dureau, Christian, Rita Hayworth, Paris, 1985.

Merrill, Gary, Bette, Rita, and the Rest of My Life, Augusta, Maine, 1988.

Leaming, Barbara, If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth, New York, 1989.

On HAYWORTH: articles—

Kobal, John, "The Time, the Place and the Girl: Rita Hayworth," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1972.

Stanke, Don, "Rita Hayworth," in Films in Review (New York), November 1972

Drew, Bernard, "Heartbreak Hollywood," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1977.

Obituary, in Variety (New York), 20 May 1987.

Pulleine, Tim, obituary, in Films and Filming (London), July 1987.

Mille, A., "Rita Hayworth: Star en mouvement," in Positif (Paris), September 1987.

McLean, Adrienne L., "I'm a Casino: Transformation, Ethnicity, and Authenticity in the Construction of Rita Hayworth, American Love Goddess," in Journal of Film and Video (Atlanta), Fall-Winter 1992–1993.

Stars (Mariembourg), Autumn 1994.

McLean, Adrienne L., "The Cinderella Princess and the Instrument of Evil: Surveying the Limits of Female Transgression in Two Postwar Hollywood Scandals," in Cinema Journal (Austin), Spring 1995.

Helling, William P., "Rita Hayworth's The Loves of Carmen as Literary Criticism," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), October 1996.

* * *

Rita Hayworth's life might serve as the prototype for that of the glamorous movie queen, the classic story of the beautiful young woman trapped in a profession that took over her life in ways she found difficult to understand, much less control. Born into a show-business family, Hayworth went to work early as a dancing partner for her father, Eduardo Cansino of The Dancing Cansinos. Her grace and beauty soon attracted Hollywood, and, after a lackluster beginning playing bit parts as a Latin type in B pictures, she was remade from an ethnic beauty into an all-American glamour girl through new makeup, hair color, and an electrolysis treatment that lifted her hairline. The careful exploitation of her as the ultimate in Hollywood 1940s desirability brought her fame and wealth, but little happiness.

The Hayworth image was always sexy and alluring, but she didn't play in only one type of film. She was the dancing star of 1940s escapist musicals, and at the same time she played femmes fatales in a series of films noir. Her first real success as a leading lady came in 1941, and her films that year reflect these differences: Rouben Mamoulian's Blood and Sand, in which she was the temptress Doña Sol, and You'll Never Get Rich, in which she was Fred Astaire's dancing partner. She made another film with Astaire, You Were Never Lovelier, and many felt that Hayworth, a natural dancer with great stamina and rhythm, was Astaire's best on-screen partner. Although her singing had to be dubbed, she found great success in the musicals of the 1940s.

Two of the most financially successful and best remembered films of the war years starred Hayworth: the musical Cover Girl, in which she co-starred with Gene Kelly, and the sexually suggestive Gilda, opposite Glenn Ford. Cover Girl presented Hayworth in a Technicolor version of her own story. An ordinary dancer is transformed before the audience's eyes via clothing and makeup into a dazzling face on a magazine cover. She becomes a famous model as well as a successful musical comedy star, descending, as it seems, from the very heavens as she dances down a gigantic ramp in flowing chiffon. (Needless to say, none of it brings her happiness.) In Gilda she is used and abused by more than one man, and her apparent passivity allows her to be victimized and degraded, culminating in her famous striptease "Put the Blame on Mame, Boys." Hayworth's image as a destructive but pliable woman seemed to stick with her after Gilda. "Every man I've known has fallen in love with Gilda and wakened with me," she allegedly told a friend. One of her ex-husbands, Orson Welles, used Hayworth's image as a passive yet destructive temptress in his film The Lady from Shanghai. Whether Hayworth played in musicals or dramas, she was always the ultimate in desirability. When in 1948 Life magazine dubbed her "The Love Goddess," she was officially marked with the tagline that would plague her the rest of her life. The issue coincided with the release of her film Down to Earth, in which she played the Greek goddess of dance, Terpsichore. Her image as a woman men could not resist was further enhanced by her five unhappy marriages, in particular her wedding to Prince Ali Khan in 1949. This publicity bonanza, fully exploited by the tabloids, made Hayworth into an international celebrity. She soon returned to Hollywood, however, and resumed her career, although she would never regain the fame she had in the 1940s.

Hayworth continued to perform during the 1960s and 1970s, occasionally trying her hand at television or a serious drama, such as her role in Rattigan's Separate Tables, for which she received good reviews. Hayworth's most famous and successful films, musical or dramatic, tend to deal with her as a woman whose image does not truthfully reflect her personality, and for whom success, riches, and beauty bring no real and lasting personal satisfaction. Sadly enough, it seemed to be the story of her own life.

—Jeanine Basinger

Hayworth, Rita

views updated Jun 08 2018

Hayworth, Rita (1918–87) US film actress. Blood and Sand (1941) established her sultry, temptress image. She was the dancing partner of both Gene Kelly in Cover Girl (1944), and Fred Astaire in You Were Never Lovelier (1941). Orson Welles (one of her four husbands) directed her in The Lady From Shanghai (1948).