Rita Hayworth Overview:

Legendary actress, Rita Hayworth, was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on Oct 17, 1918 in Brooklyn, NY. Hayworth appeared in over 60 film roles. Her best known films include Only Angels Have Wings (as Judy MacPherson), The Strawberry Blonde (as Virginia Brush), Blood and Sand (as Dona Sol), You'll Never Get Rich (as Sheila Winthrop), You Were Never Lovelier (as Maria Acu?a), Cover Girl (as Rusty Parker), Gilda (as Gilda Mundson Farrell), Pal Joey (as Vera Prentice-Simpson) and Separate Tables (as Ann Shankland). Hayworth died at the age of 68 on May 14, 1987 in New York City, NY and was laid to rest in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA.

Early Life

Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17th, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in the glittery world show business; her father was an accomplished Spanish dancer/vaudeville performer and her mother was a Ziegfeld Follie. At the age of three, she began taking dance lessons from her Uncle at Carnegie Hall. By the age of six, Hayworth began performing with her family on stage and in 1926 she was dancing in the Warner Brothers short film La Fiesta. In 1928, at tender age of eight, she moved west with her family to Los Angeles where her father worked as a choreographer for Hollywood and opened a dance studio, where he worked with stars such as James Cagney. Although initially successful, the business did not survive the great depression. Soon after, he and Rita began the dancing duo"The Dancing Cansinos," performing mostly in Nightclubs across the border in Mexico. Although popular with the crowds, it was a personal Hell for Hayworth, as later reports indicate, she was often physically, emotional, and sexually abused by her father.

Due to Rita's young age, was unable to perform at adult venues in the United States and the duo was often spotted in Tijuana. The location was a popular tourist spot for the population of Los Angels and soon studios began to take note of the young dancer. In 1934, at the age of 16, Hayworth took a small role in the Cruz Diablo. Soon after she caught the eye of talents scouts at Fox Studios, who quickly signed her to a six-month contract and changed her stage name Rita Cansino.

Early Career

During her time at Fox, Hayworth acted in a series of unforgettable films, including 1935's Dante's Inferno. When Fox failed to renew her contract, Hayworth's manager/husband managed to arrange the young actress for a screen test at Columbia Studios. Studio Head Harry Cohn then signed her to long-term contract. She was initially cast in small roles and often as an exotic foreigner. She played Argentinean in Under the Pampas Moon and Latin in Human Cargo. The studio felt, however, her image was too Spanish and, thus, limited her appeal to mainstream audiences. She then soon under went a complete image transformation, sitting through painful electrolysis sessions to raise her hairline and rid herself of her widows-peaks. She also dyed her naturally dark brown hair to it's now trademark fiery red, literally erasing her Latin heritage, thus making her more palatable for white audiences. She continued appearing in smaller role and minor films for later part of the 1930's. In 1939, she played a small but key role in Howard Hawks action/adventure film Only Angels Have Wings with Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks JR., and Jean Arthur. The film was a hit and audiences took note of the beautiful young starlet.


After the success of Only Angels Have Wings, Hayworth began to receive more significant roles. In 1940 she starred opposite Glenn Ford in the courtroom drama The Lady in Question. That same year she was loaned to MGM studios for George Cukor's Susan and God. In 1941 Hayworth played the second female lead opposite James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland in The Strawberry Blonde. The film was especially successful and Hayworth's popularity only grew. She was then loaned to 20th Century Fox for the bullfighting drama Blood and Sand. She returned to Columbia and starred opposite Fred Astaire in the musical You'll Never Get Rich. The film went on to be one of highest grossing films the studio had ever produced. The formula proved so successful that Hayworth and Astaire were paired together the next year for 1942's You Were Never Lovelier. The next year, in surprising and bold move, Hayworth married her second husband, famed director Orson Welles.

1944 Hayworth starred opposite Gene Kelly in the Technicolor musical, Cover Girl. The film solidified her name as one of biggest box office draws in America. The next year she starred in the Victor Saville musical Tonight and Every Night.  In 1946 Hayworth starred in what has become her signature performance as the titular role in Charles Vidor's Gilda. Hayworth offers her most seductive performance was the object of Glenn Ford's desires. Her nightclub rendition of Put the Blame on Mame and subsequent one gloved strip tease has since solidified her place in film and pop-cultural history. Her next film, the fantasy comedy Down to Earth, was released the next year. In 1947, Hayworth cut and dyed her signature locks from Red to blonde to star in her husband's next film, The Lady from Shanghai. The process was painful for all involved, as Welles and Hayworth were separated and on the verge of divorce.  Although Hayworth was well received by the critics, the film over all enjoyed only mixed reviews and all together failed at the box office. Soon after Hayworth and Welles divorced. The next year she once again paired with Glenn Ford and Charles Vidor for The Love's of Carmen. The film marked her first to be produced by her production company, Beckworth Productions and was one of biggest moneymakers of the year.

Short Career Hiatus

After her divorce from Orson Welles, Hayworth took a break from Hollywood and traveled to Europe. While in Cannes she was introduced the famed Prince Aly Khan and soon the two began seeing each other. A year later, they were married. The wedding marked the first time a Hollywood actress married a Prince, thus becoming true royalty. Although initially happy to start a life away from Hollywood, after the birth of their only child the marriage began to go sour. By 1951, Hayworth had returned to the United States with her children and by 1953 the pair had divorced. Although she had already been a steady drinker, Hayworth began to slip further and further into alcohol dependency.

Return to Hollywood

After her second marriage failed, Hayworth returned to acting. In 1952 she once again teamed with Glenn Ford to star in the big budget picture Affair in Trinidad. Although the film was not a critical favorite, audiences clamored to see the new Hayworth picture. The next year, she stared as the title role in the historical drama Salome. That year she also starred with the 3-D musical Miss Sadie Thompson. The film was a hit with Hayworth being well reviewed by the critics. She again took a hiatus from the silver screen due to a troubled marriage, this time to singer Dick Haymes. She returned to the screen in 1957 opposite Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon on Fire Down Below. That year she also starred in the silver screen adaption of Pal Joey opposite Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. It would be her last film for Columbia Pictures.  In 1958 she starred with Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster and Wendy Hiller in the ensemble drama Separate Tables. She was well received.

Later Career and Life

Hayworth continued to work in Hollywood throughout the 1960's, although her popularity at the box office began to wane. In 1961 she starred with Rex Harrison in the comedy The Happy Thieves. Two years later she teamed with John Wayne and Claudia Cardinale for the circus western Circus World. For her efforts she was nominated for a Golden Globe. She remained in Hollywood, acting in mostly supporting roles for the rest of the decade. In 1972, although desperate to retire, Hayworth signed to star in Ralph Nelson's The Wrath of God in need of the money. Now struggling from serious alcoholism, Hayworth was quite unstable during filming and shot her scenes line by line. It would be her final completed film.  Following the completion of The Wrath of God, Hayworth retired from Hollywood. Although much of her poor mental and physical health was blamed on her alcoholism, it would not be until the 1980's that Hayworth would be properly diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Rita Hayworth passed away on May 14, 1987 in at the Church of Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. She was 88 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Rita Hayworth's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #66 on Jul 24, 1942. Hayworth was never nominated for an Academy Award.

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Rita Hayworth Quotes:

Jimmy Bourne: [as Eve grabs a drink from a tray and tosses it back] But Eve, that's a *martini*.
Eve Lewis: It *was* a martini.

Terpsichore: [singing] There's a law against men beating their wives, which inhibits about a million guys' lives.

Irene Malcolm: [sarcastically to Cullen] Thanks for dancing on your knees.

read more quotes from Rita Hayworth...

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Rita Hayworth on the
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Rita Hayworth Facts
In 1946, an expedition into the wilderness of Canada's unexplored Headless Valley came across an abandoned trapper's shack. In it the expedition found three things: a candle, a can of beans, and a picture of Rita.

Daughters: Rebecca Welles (17 December 1944 to 17 October 2004) and Yasmin Khan, born 28 December 1949.

According to the book "Debrett goes to Hollywood" by Charles Kidd, Rita was descended on her mother's side from an Allyn Haworth, whose family was reputed to be descended from the town of Haworth in West Yorkshire. Haworth is also famous as the home of the Bronte sisters.

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