Rita Hayworth (real name Margarita Carmen Cansino) (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987) was a famous American film star of Spanish and Irish descent during the 1940s who was sometimes called "The Love Goddess" or "The Great American Love Goddess." She was also celebrated as an expert dancer and as a great beauty.
First attracting attention of film producers as part of the dance team "The Dancing Cansinos", she was signed first by Fox studios, then free-lanced for several years before signing with Columbia. After a name change from Rita Cansino to Rita Hayworth, and painful electrolysis to raise her hairline, Rita made a splash as part of the ensemble cast in Howard Hawks' "Only Angels Have Wings". Her "other woman" part in Rouben Mamoulian's "Blood and Sand" solidified her new-found stardom. Her fame as a redhead first arose from this Technicolor film. A Bob Landry Life Magazine photograph released at this time added to her celebrity and became one of the most requested wartime pinups.
Her well-known films include the musicals that mader her famous: You'll Never Get Rich (1941) and You Were Never Lovelier (1942) (both with Fred Astaire), and Cover Girl (1944) with Gene Kelly. Her erotic appeal was notable in Gilda (1946), which encountered some difficulty with censors.This role made her a cultural icon. Others include The Lady from Shanghai (1948), and the 1953 remake of Sadie Thompson. During the 1940's, she ranked with Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, and Lana Turner as one of the most popular pinup girls with servicemen.
Shy and reclusive in real life, Rita was the antithesis of the characters she played. She once complained famously that all the men she knew fell in love with Gilda, but woke up with her. She was married five times, including a union with Orson Welles from 1944-1948 and marriages to Prince Aly Khan and actor-singer Dick Haymes. She was also very close to frequent co-star and next door neighbor Glenn Ford. She had two children: Rebecca Welles and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. After about 1960 she suffered from early onset of Alzheimer's disease which was not diagnosed until 1980; she continued to act in films until the early 1970s and made a well-publicized appearance on The Carol Burnett Show near the end of her career. Lynda Carter starred in a 1983 biopic of her life.
Following her death in 1987, she was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
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