Rita Hayworth was an American actress known as “The Love Goddess” for her tremendous sensuality. She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in New York on October 17, 1918. Her father Eduardo was a Spanish dance instructor; her mother, Volga Haworth, was a Dutch dancer. She started performing on stage with her parents when she was four, and at 15 she began to work in the film industry as a dancer in musicals. Starting in 1935, Columbia Pictures decided to invest in her as an actress. The young actress had a makeover and changed her name to Rita Hayworth.

In 1941 she starred in two movies that made her famous: The Strawberry Blonde, by Raoul Walsh; and Blood and Sand by Rouben Mamoulian. In Blood and Sand, costarring Tyrone Power, Hayworth plays a woman who seduces a man and leads him to his doom. Audiences were won over by her flowing red hair. In 1943 she married director Orson Welles, who had risen to fame two years earlier with his movie Citizen Kane. They had a daughter named Rebecca. In 1946 she played femme fatale Gilda [1946] in the movie of the same name by Charles Vidor. Rita added unusual frailty to the seductress cliché. For audiences, the most memorable scene was the one in which Hayworth sang “Put the Blame on Mame”, slipping off a glove in strip-tease style. Rita became the “Goddess of Love,” the most explosive Hollywood star of her era. Two years later she was directed by her husband Orson Welles in The Lady From Shanghai, in which she appeared with short blonde hair. Audiences were shocked by the new look. During the shooting of the movie, Welles and Hayworth separated. In 1948 Hayworth met Pakistani prince Ali Khan, son of Aga Khan III, a prominent figure in the Islamic world. On May 27, 1949, the Muslim prince and the actress wed. They had a child, Yasmin. But the wedding caused a scandal: the Vatican excommunicated her and many boycotted her films. Rita decided to leave Hollywood to devote herself to her family.

Unfortunately, her second marriage was short-lived as well. In 1952 Rita Hayworth retuned to the US and in 1953 she won back her audience with William Dieterle’s Salomé, in which she once again danced seductively. In 1957 she starred alongside Frank Sinatra in George Sidney’s Pal Joey, playing a millionaire widow who falls in love with a singer. Although Hayworth was still capable of charming the world, her personal life was in a shambles. Two more unhappy marriages led her to develop a drinking problem.
In 1965, Henry Hathaway’s Circus World earned her a Golden Globe nomination. It was the only formal recognition the actress ever received. Hayworth retired from show business in the 1970s. A short time later she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Rita Hayworth died in New York on May 14, 1987. She was 68.
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