Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth

Active - 1935 - 2022  |   Born - Oct 17, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Died - May 14, 1987   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy

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Biography by AllMovie

The definitive femme fatale of the 1940s, Rita Hayworth was the Brooklyn-born daughter of Spanish dancer Eduardo Cansino and Ziegfeld Follies showgirl Volga Haworth. She joined the family dancing act in her early teens and made a few '30s films under her real name, Margarita Cansino, and with her real hair color (black), including Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) and Meet Nero Wolfe (1936). Over the next few years -- at the urging of Columbia Studios and her first husband -- she reshaped her hairline with electrolysis, dyed her hair auburn, and adopted the name Rita Hayworth. Following her performance in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), she became a major leading lady to most of the big stars, including Tyrone Power, Fred Astaire, Charles Boyer, Gene Kelly, and her second and soon to be ex-husband Orson Welles in The Lady From Shanghai (1948). Hayworth then became involved in a tempestuous romance with married playboy Aly Khan, son of the Pakistani Muslim leader Aga Khan III, and they married in 1949. Following their divorce two years later, she was married to singer Dick Haymes from 1953 to 1955, and then for three years to James Hill, the producer of her film Separate Tables (1958). Her career had slowed down in the '50s and came to a virtual standstill in the '60s, when rumors of her supposed erratic and drunken behavior began to circulate. In reality, Hayworth was suffering from the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. For years, she would be cared for by her daughter Princess Yasmin Khan, and her death from the disease in 1987 gave it public attention that led to increased funding for medical research to find a cure.

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  • Was billed as Rita Cansino as early as 12 years old, but didn't change her last name to Hayworth, a variation of her mother's maiden name, until the 1937 film Criminals of the Air.
  • Career soared after the release of a 1941 Life magazine issue that featured a seductive photo of her, which would later become a favorite pin-up for World War II servicemen.
  • Was labeled "The Love Goddess," but in reality was considered shy and an introvert.  
  • In his 1959 autobiography, Steps in Time, dance legend Fred Astaire wrote that she was his favorite dance partner. 
  • Suffered for years with a mysterious illness, but was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1980, a little-known disease at the time.