June 11, 2015

A Look at a Legend: Rita Hayworth



A name and a face synonymous with controversial cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, Rita Hayworth is a legend who has continued to capture the hearts and imaginations of movie lovers from across the world following her death in 1987.

An icon who pushed the boundaries of the big screen and prompted the domination of Hollywood by strong female stars, Hayworth was a screen legend who was seemingly born into show business. Billionaires has explored her life and film career to discover the secrets behind her success and the rocky personal life that eventually led to her departure from the movie industry altogether.

Early Career
Rita Hayworth, formerly Margarita Carmen Cansino, was born in New York City on 17 October 1918. Born to dancers, Rita had the show business bug from a young age and by the time she reached her 12th birthday she was dancing professionally. During her teen years, Rita moved with her family to Los Angeles where she joined her father on the stage in nightclubs. Travelling across the US and Mexico, she was soon spotted by Fox Film Company producer and was offered a contract, still aged just 16.

A star before she’d reached adulthood, Rita starred in a string of films in her first year in the limelight, including her 1935 debut Under the Pampas Moon and Dante’s Inferno, in which she acted alongside Spencer Tracy. In the next two years she also featured in many other Fox movies including Charlie Chan in Egypt, Meet Nero Wolfe and Human Cargo, which was released in 1936.

It was the next year, however, that marked the beginning of Hayworth’s success and her launch into the Hollywood limelight for good.

Into the Limelight
In 1937, Rita married Judson, a man 22 years her senior, who was the catalyst for change in her life. After convincing Rita to change her name to Hayworth and dye her hair auburn, Judson took on a managerial role and was successful in achieving enough newspaper and magazine coverage for the star to attract the offer of a seven-year contract from Columbia Pictures.

Although this new contract initially began with a series of disappointing roles, Hayworth soon landed the part as a faithful wife opposite Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings in 1939, which earned her critical acclaim and a stream of movie offers that saw her into the 1940s.

Within the next two years, Hayworth became a star in her own right, earning the title of ‘The Great American Love Goddess’ from Life magazine and winning the hearts of men all over the world. In 1941, Hayworth secured her name when she took to the screen opposite James Cagney in Strawberry Blonde, before becoming the “favourite dance partner” of Fred Astaire following the filming of You’ll Never Get Rich.

These successes only furthered the infatuation that had spread across the nation’s males, with a 1944 black lace photograph of the star quickly becoming the unofficial pin-up photo for American servicemen serving during World War II.

Life in the Public Eye
Hayworth’s stardom reached its peak in 1946 when she starred opposite Glenn Ford in Gilda, shocking US audiences with a controversial striptease. Rita also featured in The Lady From Shanghai the same year, which was directed by her second husband, Orson Welles.

Hayworth’s marriage to Welles, which began in 1943, only lasted until 1948 but still managed to garner a great deal of attention from the press, particularly following the birth of her first child, Rebecca. Reaching the pinnacle of its life in the public eye during the filming of The Lady From Shanghai, their marriage ended due to Welles’ apparent reluctance to settle down with the actress. In court documents, Hayworth stated: “Mr Welles told me he never should have married in the first place; that it interfered with his freedom in his way of life.”

Hayworth had also found herself another love interest towards the end of her marriage in the form of Prince Aly Khan, whose father was the head of the Ismaili Muslims at the time. Although the couple married in 1949 and had a daughter together, Rita quickly divorced the prince after just two years, before moving on to her fourth marriage with singer Dick Haymes.

Sadly, this also lasted just two years, as did her fifth and final marriage with movie producer James Hill. This emotional turmoil that was taking over her personal life was also reflected in her movie career, which had begun to dwindle following her 1940s successes. Despite once being one of the most well known names in Hollywood, Hayworth had become a shadow of her former self and decided to end her career in 1972 with her final film, The Wrath of God.

Appreciating an Icon
Over the next decade, Rita became known for her suspected alcohol abuse and battle with Alzheimer’s disease, with which she was diagnosed in 1980. Placed into the care of Princess Yasmin, her second daughter, Hayworth spent seven years struggling with her deterioration before succumbing to the disease on 14 May 1987.

Despite her lessening fame within the last three decades of her life, Hayworth’s passing prompted an outpouring of condolences and appreciation from her lifelong fans and those who had worked with her during her career. President Ronald Reagan was one of the most significant names to publicly comment on her death, describing the actress as one of the country’s “most beloved stars”. He continued: “Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments on the stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl.”

By Joni Oneil

With many thanks to Billionaires Newswire

May 14 - 2016:


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