Rita Hayworth

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Rita Hayworth
Gilda poster

Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918May 14, 1987), whose real name was Margarita Carmen Cansino, was an American actress of Spanish and Irish descent, who reached fame during the 1940s. She was sometimes called "The Love Goddess" or "The Great American Love Goddess", and was celebrated as an expert dancer and as a great beauty.

First attracting attention of film producers as part of the dance team "The Dancing Cansinos", Hayworth was signed first by Fox studios, then free-lanced for several years before signing with Columbia. After a name change from Rita Cansino to Rita Hayworth, and painful electrolysis to raise her hairline, Rita made a splash as part of the ensemble cast in Howard Hawks' "Only Angels Have Wings". Her "other woman" part in Rouben Mamoulian's "Blood and Sand" solidified her new-found stardom. Her fame as a redhead first arose from this Technicolor film. A Bob Landry Life Magazine photograph released at this time added to her celebrity and became one of the most requested wartime pinups.

Hayworth's well-known films include the musicals that made her famous: You'll Never Get Rich (1941) and You Were Never Lovelier (1942) (both with Fred Astaire), and Cover Girl (1944) with Gene Kelly. Her erotic appeal was notable in Gilda (1946), which encountered some difficulty with censors.This role made her a cultural icon. Others include The Lady from Shanghai (1948), and the 1953 remake of Sadie Thompson. During the 1940's, she ranked with Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, and Lana Turner as one of the most popular pinup girls with servicemen.

Personal Life

Shy and reclusive in real life, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she played. She once complained that all the men she knew fell in love with Gilda, but woke up with her. She was close to her frequent co-star and next door neighbour Glenn Ford.

Hayworth was married five times: first with Edward C.Judson (1937-1943), followed by actor-director Orson Welles (1943-1948, one daughter Rebecca Welles), to Prince Aly Khan (1949-1953, one daughter Princess Yasmin Aly Khan), then to actor-singer Dick Haymes (1953-1955), and finally to director James Hill (1958-1961).

Final Years

After about 1960, Hayworth suffered from early onset of Alzheimer's disease, which was not diagnosed until 1980; she continued to act in films until the early 1970s and made a well-publicized appearance on The Carol Burnett Show near the end of her career. Lynda Carter starred in a 1983 biopic of her life. She lived in an apartment at the San Remo in New York City. Following her death in 1987, she was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.


  • In 2005, the White Stripes wrote a song titled "Take, Take, Take" on their album "Get Behind Me Satan" which humourously describes a man meeting Hayworth in a bar and pestering her for an autograph and a picture. She is also briefly mentioned in the song "White Moon" from the same album.



External links

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