From shy girl to Hollywood star -- Rita Hayworth turned into a sex symbol after she underwent changes to be accepted by Hollywood moguls.
Born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn on October 17, 1918, Rita Hayworth was the persona Cansino adopted and became known for most of her life and career.
With many dancers in the family, Hayworth’s Spanish-born father performed with his sister as the “Dancing Cansinos.” Years later, he revived the performance with his young daughter, Margarita, in 1931.
Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn on October 17, 1918. | Source: Getty Images
RITA HAYWORTH'S BIRTH
To further their dancing careers, the family moved to Chula Vista, a city close to the Mexican border. But her father Eduardo was always harsh with little Margarita, and according to the 1989 biography “If This Was Happiness,” many traumatic events scarred Hayworth forever.
Hayworth’s father punished her in many ways, and according to the author, the man even abused her sexually. Rita never rebelled against her father. Instead, she kept on performing her routines.
Rita Hayworth (1918 - 1987) wearing a green and white, leaf-patterned dress and putting her feet up, circa 1945. | Source: Getty Images
In another biography on Hayworth’s life, “Being Rita Hayworth,” the creation of Rita Hayworth's persona was an attempt to suppress Margarita Cansino. However, according to the book, Rita was unable to bury her original identity.
In the quest to embody her new persona and be accepted by the American market, she had to adopt the “Americaness” biotype. The Spanish-Irish descent dancer dyed her hair auburn and changed her characteristic Latin lower hairline.
HAYWORTH’S TURBULENT LOVE LIFE
Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire rehearse on a roof top at Columbia Pictures for a scene from their film 'You Were Never Lovelier' in 1942 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
Her first husband became her agent and her “pimp,” as stated by Barbara Leaming. According to the author, he set up his wife to sleep with the Columbia studio boss Harry Cohn, which Rita refused.
Hayworth had been signed to work with Cohn, and the man took revenge on her refusal to sleep with him:
“All Harry Cohn wanted to do was get even, because he’d never had any sexual encounter of any kind with Rita, which annoyed the hell out of him.”
Rita Hayworth (1918 - 1987), circa 1950. | Source: Getty Images
The mogul and Hayworth battled for decades over scripts, Rita’s personal life, contracts until the dancer and actress final movie for Columbia, in 1957, “Pal Joey.”
In 1942, Hayworth met the man she would call “the great love of my life.” Director Orson Welles was Hayworth’s second husband, and they were often portraited as an adorable couple.
They split up after 5 years of marriage, and Hayworth married her third husband a few years later, Prince Aly Khan, to whom she had her daughter, Princess Yasmin. But the fairy tale soon perished due to their frequent fights and Hayworth’s high-society event’s burnout.
Prince Ali and His Rita Meet the Press in Dorigny, Switzerland, circa 1949. | Source: Getty Images
Hayworth married her fourth husband, singer Dick Haymes, in 1953. Their marriage was over after a year, and they ended up in a battle in court over custody hearings of their children amidst the divorce.
By 1960, she began to show early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which was diagnosed only in 1980. The actress’s daughter, Princess Yasmin, took care of a lonely Rita Hayworth before she passed in 1987.
HAYWORTH’S CAREER AS AN ACTRESS
Despite often being portrayed as a sex symbol without great talent, Rita Hayworth took part in 60 films throughout her career. She played small roles with the name of “Rita Cansino,” including thirteen roles under Columbia signature and a few more with Warner Brothers.
Actress and dancer Rita Hayworth poses for a portrait circa 1940 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
Rita landed her first big role in the movie “Uma Loira Com Açúcar” in 1941. But it was only in “Ao Compasso do Amor” that she became a star. Her role as Gilda in the movie with the same name was the turning point in her career.
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