Rita Hayworth

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Born

10/17/1918 , Brooklyn, New York, USA

Died

5/14/1987

Birth Name

Margarita Carmen Cansino

Gender

Female

Biography:

Spanish dancer Eduardo Cansino's daughter Margarita trained as a dancer from early childhood. At age 12, mature-looking Rita joined Eduardo's stage act, in which she was spotted 3 years later by Fox studio head Winfield Sheehan, leading to her first studio contract and film debut at age 16 in Dante's Inferno (1935). Her Fox contract was dropped after 5 small roles, but expert, exploitative promotion by first husband Edward Judson soon brought Rita a new contract at Columbia, where studio head Harry Cohn (I) changed her name to Hayworth and approved raising her hairline by electrolysis. After 13 mainly minor roles, Columbia lent her to Warner Brothers for her first big success, Strawberry Blonde, The (1941); her splendid dancing with Astaire in You'll Never Get Rich (1941) made her a star. In person Rita was shy, quiet, and unassuming; only when the cameras rolled did she turn on the explosive sexual charisma that in Gilda (1946) made her a superstar. To Rita, though, domestic bliss was a more important, if elusive, goal, and in 1949 she interrupted her career for marriage, unhappy almost from the start, to playboy Prince Aly Khan. Her films after divorce from Aly include perhaps her best straight acting performances, Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) and They Came to Cordura (1959). From 1960 (age 42), early onset of Alzheimer's disease (undiagnosed until 1980) limited Rita's powers; the last few roles in her 60-film career were increasingly small. Almost helpless by 1981, Rita was cared for by daughter Yasmin until her death at age 68.