Rita Hayworth


"All I wanted was just what everybody else wants, you know, to be loved." ~ Rita

Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York. Her Spanish father was a dance instructor and Rita began performing with him when she was a teenager. She later confided to friends that her father had sexually abused her. In 1935 she made her film debut in the drama Dante's Inferno. When she was eighteen she married her older manager Edward Judson. He spent her money and encouraged her to sleep with powerful men in Hollywood. To help her career Rita dyed her dark hair red and had her hairline raised with electrolysis. She was offered a contract with Columbia pictures where she worked with Tyrone Power in Blood And Sand and with Fred Astaire in You Were Never Lovelier. Fred said that she was his favorite dancing partner. She divorced her husband and became engaged to Victor Mature. In 1943 she married Orson Welles and had a daughter, Rebecca. Rita became a popular World War 2 pin up and was nicknamed "The Love Goddess". Her biggest success came when she played a seductive femme-fatale in Gilda. Orson directed her in the 1948 film-noir The Lady from Shanghai.


As a publicity stunt he made Rita cut her long hair and dye it blonde. After their marriage ended she began dating billionaire Howard Hughes. She got pregnant and had an abortion when he would not marry her. Rita quit making movies in 1949 and became a real life princess when she married Prince Aly Khan. They had a daughter, Yasmin, but the marriage only lasted three years. She returned to Hollywood appearing in movies like Affair In Trinidad and Pal Joey. In 1953 she married singer Dick Haymes but she left him when he became abusive. She formed a production company with her fifth husband James Hill but this marriage didn't last either. Rita had brief romances with actors Gary Merrill and Frank Langella. She had developed a serious drinking problem and often had trouble remembering her lines. In the early 1970s she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had to retire from making movies. Rita was cared for by her daughter, Princess Yasmin, until her death on May 14, 1987. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Princess Yasmin, is now the President of Alzheimer's Disease International.