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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rita Hayworth would be 95 today

Dancing in Tijuana when I was 13 - that was my "summer camp." How else could I keep up with Fred Astaire when I was 19?
- Rita Hayworth (New York Times, 25 October 1970) 

Just because I was married to Aly Khan, people think I'm rich. Well, I'm not.  I never got a dime from Aly or from any of my husbands. 
- Id.  

I've had a lot of unhappiness in my life - and a lot of happiness. Who doesn't? Maybe I've learned enough to be able to guide my daughters. 
- Hayworth (AP reports, 11 November 1963) 

Movies were much better in the days when I was doing them. 
- Hayworth (St. Petersburg Times, 23 June 1968)

I look at pictures and watch footage of Rita Hayworth and see a resilience and vivacity that could only endure for so long. She was the plaything of her studios and the media and lived in the imagination of countless men and women around the world. Millions wanted her to find happiness and were willing to forgive any matter of indiscretion in order for her to find it. She searched for it - through studio-shaped images, new names, and a laundry list of husbands - but fame makes many things elusive, especially contentment and peace. When asked how it felt to have everything, she replied, “I haven’t had everything from life. I’ve had too much.”
- Anne Helen Peterson (b. ??) (Scandals of Classic Hollywood, "Rita Hayworth, Tragic Princess")

Today is the 95th anniversary of the birth of superstar American movie actress and dancer Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) in Brooklyn. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino to two professional dancers, Hayworth started dance lessons at an early age and in 1927 moved with her family to Hollywood, where her father had hoped to land dancing parts in the movies. Finding minimal success, he formed a dance act with his daughter, and since she was too young to appear in night clubs in California, they performed across the border in Tijuana. In 1934 and 1935, Rita got two bit parts in Hollywood films, which secured her a formal screen test and a six-month contract with Fox as "Rita Cansino." Subsequently, with Columbia Pictures, she appeared in a series of B-movie roles, usually cast as an exotic foreign beauty, but with Only Angels Have Wings (1939) she attracted sufficient attention to warrant larger and larger parts and star billing. Hayworth's career really took off in the early 1940s with such films as Music in My Heart, Angels Over Broadway, Blood and Sand, and two musical films with Fred Astaire, You'll Never Get Rich, and You Never Were Lovelier.  By 1944, when she appeared with Gene Kelly in Cover Girl, she was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, and in Charles Vidor's erotic film noir, Gilda (1946), she established herself as a leading femme fatale. After her career peaked in roughly 1948, she appeared in nearly 20 more films, including Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), Pal Joey (1957), and Separate Tables (1958), before retiring in 1972. Rita Hayworth was married and divorced five times, and counted among her husbands Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan* (by whom she had two daughters), and Dick Haymes. Late in life, she suffered from alcoholism and died of Alzheimer's disease in New York City in 1987.) She was quoted in 1977 as saying, 

"Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me.") 

* N.B. A son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, Aly Kahn (1911-1960) was a fabulously wealthy international socialite and playboy, who later served as Pakistan's representative to the United Nations. He was married to Rita Hayworth between 1949 and 1953). 

Quite timely, this composite video featuring Rita Hayworth as a dancer has recently gone quasi-viral: 

This 1941 photograph of Rita Hayworth became one of the most popular pin-ups among U.S. servicemen during World War II. Life magazine, however, decided it was too risque to put on their cover: 

The above was taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your information in the comments.

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