RITA HAYWORTH Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Rita Hayworth                                                                     
Birth name: Margarita Carmen Cansino                                                     
Born: 17 October 1918 Brooklyn, New York, U.S.                                           
Died: 14 May 1987 New York, New York, U.S.                                               
Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 - May 14, 1987), was an American actress who             
attained fame during the 1940s as one of the era's leading sex symbols.                 
Margarita Carmen Cansino, better known as Rita Hayworth, was born in Brooklyn,           
New York, the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and             
English/Irish-American Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth.                                     
Hayworth was on stage by the age of six as a member of The Cansinos, a famous           
family of Spanish dancers working in vaudeville. Also, her father had performed         
in a dancing duo with his sister, and later revived the duo with his daughter           
Rita as his dancing partner, performing in nightclubs in California and the             
Foreign Club in Tijuana, Mexico. At age sixteen, she attracted the attention of         
film producers as part of "The Dancing Cansinos" and was signed by Fox Studios           
in 1935.                                                                                 
After her option was not renewed by Fox, Rita Cansino freelanced at minor film           
studios before signing with Columbia Pictures in 1937.                                   
In 1937, Margarita Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth. After two more years of         
minor roles, she gave an impressive performance in Howard Hawks' Only Angels             
Have Wings (1939), as part of an ensemble cast headed by Cary Grant. Her                 
sensitive portrayal of a disillusioned wife sparked the interest of other               
studios. Between assignments at Columbia Pictures, she was borrowed by Metro             
Goldwyn Mayer for George Cukor's Susan and God (1940) with Joan Crawford and             
Warner Brothers for Raoul Walsh's The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney.       
While on loan to Fox Studios for Rouben Mamoulian's Blood and Sand (1941)               
starring Tyrone Power, Hayworth achieved stardom with her sizzling performance           
as the amoral and seductive Doña Sol des Muire. This Technicolor film forever           
branded her as one of Hollywood's most beautiful redheads. Gene Tierney was             
originally intended for the role but was dropped by Darryl F. Zanuck when she           
eloped with Oleg Cassini. Carole Landis was the next choice for the role, but           
refused to dye her blonde hair red. Fox then borrowed Hayworth from Columbia and         
dyed her dark brown hair auburn which soon became her best remembered feature.           
Her stardom was solidified when she made the cover of Time Magazine as Fred             
Astaire's new dancing partner in You'll Never Get Rich (1941).                           
The "love goddess" image was cemented with Bob Landry's 1941 Life magazine               
photograph of her (kneeling on her own bed in a silk and lace nightgown), which         
caused a sensation and became (at over five million copies) one of the most             
requested wartime pinups. During World War II she ranked with Betty Grable,             
Dorothy Lamour, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner as the pinup girls most popular             
with servicemen. Rita Hayworth would also become Columbia's biggest star of the         
1940s, under the watchful eye of studio chief Harry Cohn, who recognized her             
value. After she made Tales of Manhattan (1942) at Twentieth Century Fox                 
opposite Charles Boyer, Cohn would not allow Hayworth to be lent to other               
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,       
who wrote in his autobiography that she "danced with trained perfection and             
individuality"), My Gal Sal (1942) with Victor Mature, and her best known               
musical, Cover Girl (1944) with Gene Kelly. Although her singing voice was               
dubbed in her movies, Hayworth was one of Hollywood's best dancers, imbued with         
power, precision, tremendous enthusiasm, and an unearthly grace. Cohn continued         
to effectively showcase Hayworth's talents in Technicolor films: Tonight and             
Every Night (1945) with Lee Bowman, and Down to Earth (1947), with Larry Parks.         
Her erotic appeal was most notable in Gilda (1946), a black-and-white film noir         
directed by Charles Vidor, which encountered some difficulty with censors. This         
role in which Hayworth in black satin performed a legendary one-glove                   
striptease made her into a cultural icon as the ultimate femme fatale.                   
Alluding to her bombshell status, in 1946 her likeness was placed on the first           
nuclear bomb to be tested after World War II at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall             
Islands, as part of Operation Crossroads. Hayworth performed one of her best             
remembered dance routines, the samba from 1945's Tonight and Every Night, while         
pregnant with her first child, Rebecca Welles (daughter of Orson Welles).               
Hayworth was also the first dancer to partner both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly           
on film the others being Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Debbie Reynolds, Vera               
Ellen, and Leslie Caron.                                                                 
Hayworth gave one of her most acclaimed performances in Orson Welles's The Lady         
from Shanghai (1948), though it failed at the box office. The failure was in             
part attributed to the fact that director/co-star Welles had Hayworth's famous           
red locks cut off and the rest dyed blonde for her role. This was done without           
Harry Cohn's knowledge or approval, and he was furious over the change. Her next         
film, The Loves of Carmen (1948) with Glenn Ford, was the first film co-produced         
by Columbia and Rita's own production company, The Beckworth Corporation (named         
for her daughter Rebecca). It was Columbia's biggest moneymaker for that year.           
She received a percentage of the profits from this and all of her subsequent             
films until 1955, when Hayworth dissolved Beckworth to pay off debts she owed to         
Hayworth left her film career in 1948 to marry Prince Aly Khan, the son of the           
Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. Initially Hayworth and           
Prince Aly had trysts at the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. The couple             
moved to Europe, causing a media frenzy. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, in writing and           
directing 1954's The Barefoot Contessa, was said to have based his title                 
character, Maria Vargas (played on film by Ava Gardner), on Hayworth's life and         
her marriage to Aly Khan.                                                               
After the marriage collapsed in 1951, Hayworth returned to America with great           
fanfare to film a string of hit films: Affair in Trinidad (1952) with favorite           
co-star Glenn Ford, Salome (1953) with Charles Laughton and Stewart Granger, and         
Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) with Jose Ferrer and Aldo Ray, for which her                 
performance won critical acclaim. Then she was off the big screen for another           
four years, due mainly to a tumultuous marriage to singer Dick Haymes. In 1957,         
after making Fire Down Below with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, and her last           
musical Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, Rita Hayworth finally left           
Columbia. She got good reviews for her acting in such films as Separate Tables (1958)   
with Burt Lancaster and David Niven, and The Story on Page One (1960) with               
Anthony Franciosa, and continued working throughout the 1960s. In 1964 she               
appeared with John Wayne in Circus World (UK title Magnificent Showman) and in           
1972 she made her last film, The Wrath of God.                                           
Although Hayworth didn't like horses and thoroughbred horse racing, she became a         
member of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Her husband Prince Aly Khan and his             
family were heavily involved in horse racing and Hayworth's filly Double Rose           
won several races in France and notably finished second in the 1949 Prix de l'Arc       
de Triomphe.                                                                             
Naturally shy and reclusive, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she           
played. She once complained, "Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with         
me." With typical modesty she later remarked that the only films she could watch         
without laughing were the dance musicals she made with Fred Astaire. She was             
close to her frequent costar and next-door neighbor Glenn Ford.                         
Hayworth was married five times:                                                         
1) Edward C. Judson (1937-1943)                                                         
2) Orson Welles (1943-1948, one daughter Rebecca Welles)                                 
3) Prince Aly Khan (1949-1953, one daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Khan),                   
4) Dick Haymes (1953-1955)                                                               
5) James Hill (1958-1961)                                                               
She also had a nephew named Richard Cansino, who is a voice actor in anime and           
video games; he has done most of his work under the name "Richard Hayworth".             
Barbara Leaming claims in "If this was happiness" that as a child and teenager,         
Rita was a victim of sexual and physical abuse by her father.                           
After about 1960, Hayworth suffered from extremely 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 1971 appearance on The Carol Burnett         
Show. Both of her brothers died within a week of each other in March 1974,               
saddening her greatly, and causing her to drink even more heavily than before.           
In 1976 in London, Hayworth was removed from a flight during which she had an           
angry outburst while traveling with her agent, an event which attracted much             
negative publicity. In 1977, Rita Hayworth was the recipient of the National             
Screen Heritage Award (see photo). 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 from Alzheimer's disease in 1987 at age 68, she was interred         
in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California; location: Grotto, Lot 196,       
Grave 6 (right of main sidewalk, near the curb). Her marker includes the                 
inscription "To yesterday's companionship and tomorrow's reunion."                       
One of the major fund raisers for the Alzheimer's Association is the annual Rita         
Hayworth Gala, which is held in New York City and Chicago. Hayworth's daughter,         
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, has been the hostess for these events, which since             
1985 have raised more than $42 million for the Association.