Profile of Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino; October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987) was an American actress and dancer. She achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars, appearing in 61 films over 37 years. The press coined the term "The Love Goddess" to describe Hayworth after she had become the most glamorous screen idol of the 1940s. She was the top pin-up girl for GIs during World War II.
Hayworth is perhaps best known for her performance in the 1946 film noir Gilda, opposite Glenn Ford, in which she played the femme fatale in her first major dramatic role. Fred Astaire, with whom she made two films, once called her his favorite dance partner. Her greatest success was in the Technicolor musical Cover Girl (1944), with Gene Kelly. She is listed as one of the top 25 female motion picture stars of all time in the American Film Institute's survey, AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars.
In 1980, Hayworth was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which contributed to her death at age 68. The public disclosure and discussion of her illness drew attention to Alzheimer's, which was largely unknown by most people at the time, and helped to increase public and private funding for Alzheimer's research.
Biography of Rita Hayworth
Hayworth was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1918 as Margarita Carmen Cansino into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino, was from Castilleja de la Cuesta, a little town near Seville, Spain and her paternal grandfather, Antonio Cansino, was renowned as a classical Spanish dancer who popularized the bolero, with a world-famous dancing school in Madrid.
Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish and English descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies.
Margarita's father and mother married in 1917. As she grew up, her father wanted her to become a professional dancer, while her mother hoped she would become an actress.
She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex, where she was taught by her uncle Angel Cansino. Before her fifth birthday she was one of the Four Cansinos featured in the Broadway production of The Greenwich Village Follies at the Winter Garden Theatre. In 1926 at the age of eight, she was featured in La Fiesta, a short film for Warner Bros.
In 1927, her father took the family to Hollywood and established his own dance studio, where he taught such stars as James Cagney and Jean Harlow.
In 1931, Eduardo Cansino partnered with his 12-year-old daughter to form an act called the Dancing Cansinos, and took her with him to work across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, a popular tourist spot for people from Los Angeles.
While dancing with her father in the Caliente clubs. Winfield Sheehan, the head of the Fox Film Corporation, saw her and quickly arranged for Hayworth to do a screen test a week later. Impressed by her screen persona, Sheehan signed her for a short-term, six-month contract at Fox, under the name Rita Cansino, the first of two name changes during her film career.
Rita took a bit part in the film Cruz Diablo (1934) at age 16, and another film In Caliente (1935) with the Mexican actress Dolores del Río.
During her time at Fox, Hayworth was billed as Rita Cansino and appeared in unremarkable roles, often cast as the exotic foreigner.
By the end of her six-month contract, Fox had merged into 20th Century Fox which did not renew her contract, and she was signed by Columbia Picture for a seven-year contract, but the studio head Harry Cohn thought her last name Cansino sounded too Spanish and Rita's then lover and later first husband Edward C. Judson suggested that she she adopt her mother's maiden name, thus Margarita Cansino became Rita Hayworth. She also changed her appearance: Her hair color became dark red, her hairline raised and her forehead broadened.
For the next few years, Rita Hayworth appeared in some minor Columbia Pictures and success did not come to her until the 40s. In 1940, she was featured in Life Magazine story, and in 1941, she was cast opposite Fred Astaire in one of the highest-budgeted films Columbia had ever made, the musical You'll Never Get Rich, it was so successful that the studio produced and released another Astaire-Hayworth picture the following year in 1942, You Were Never Lovelier.
And in 1943, Rita Hayworth married Orson Wells, the genius and golden boy of Hollywood at the time.
Starting in 1944, for three consecutive years Hayworth was named one of the top movie box-office attractions in the world. She was adept in ballet, tap, ballroom, and Spanish routines.
But it was in 1946, Rita Hayworth a cultural icon as a femme fatale after playing Gilda in Charles Vidor's film noir Gilda with Glenn Ford.
In 1948, at the height of her fame, Hayworth traveled to Cannes and was introduced to Prince Aly Khan. They began a year-long courtship, and were married on May 27, 1949. Hayworth left Hollywood and sailed for France, breaking her contract with Columbia.
Their wedding marked the first time a Hollywood actress became a princess. On December 28, 1949, Hayworth gave birth to the couple's only daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan.
Though Hayworth was anxious to start a new life abroad, away from Hollywood, Aly Khan's flamboyant lifestyle and duties proved too difficult for Hayworth. She struggled to fit in with his friends, and found it difficult to learn French.
In 1951, Hayworth set sail with her two daughters for New York. Although the couple did reconcile for a short time, they divorced in 1953.
After the collapse of her marriage to Khan, Rita Hayworth was forced to return to Hollywood to star in her "comeback" picture, Affair in Trinidad (1952) which ended up grossing $1 million more than her previous blockbuster, Gilda, and she continued to star in a string of successful pictures. By 1957, however, Kim Novak had become Columbia's top female star and Hayworth left Columbia for good but continued to act in films until the early 1970s and her last film was The Wrath of God (1972), a western.
In 1980, Rita Hayworth was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's. In July 1981, Hayworth's health had deteriorated to the point that a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that she should be placed under the care of her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan who arranged for her mother's care during her final years.
In February 1987 Rita Hayworth lapsed into a semicoma and she died three months later on May 14, 1987 at her home in Manhattan from complications associated with Alzheimer's disease.