Margarita Carmen Cansino was born in Brooklyn, NY on October 17
The Cansino family moved to California and opened a dance studio
Margarita got her big break under the name Rita Hayworth, starring in a Warner Bros. film called The Strawberry Blonde. She starred in two other movies that were also released the same year
Hayworth’s sex appeal was noted in her role in Gilda. Throughout the 40’s, she was seen as the classic “American pinup.”
Hayworth passed away on May 14 due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease
Rita Hayworth - Shy Sex Goddess
Throughout the 1940s, she was one of America’s most famous movie stars and the most requested pin-up during WWII. The Strawberry Blonde (1941) was her breakout movie; this was the first film in which she exuded the warmth and seductive vitality that was to make her famous. Her natural, raw beauty was showcased again in Blood and Sand (1941) later that year. You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) with Fred Astaire did well at the box office, making Rita a star and helping Fred Astaire’s career. Her dancing, for which she had studied all her life, was astounding. She made two films with Fred Astaire, and he privately called her his favorite dance partner.
Explosive Sexual Charisma
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. Hayworth is best known for her performance in Gilda where she played a femme fatale opposite Glenn Ford in her first major dramatic role. She made movies later but nothing as successful.
It seems she felt Gilda was a blessing and a curse. Hayworth said, “I naturally am very shy… and I suffer from an inferiority complex.” Her provocative role in Gilda, in particular, caused her pain because she said people were “always expecting Gilda and then they meet me.”
Dancing, Dancing, Dancing
Rita’s early life was full of dancing. Her father, Eduardo, was a dancer as was his father before him. She was born Margarita Cansino (Rita Hayworth) on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York. Margarita started dancing when she was about three and a half. As a teenager, she was her father’s dance partner. During the Depression, her father’s dance studio lost its paying customers. To support the family, he and she performed in Tijuana night clubs for Americans on holiday. In fact, that’s where she was discovered at age 16.
It seems that more than being a famous movie star, she wanted to have a happy marriage and domestic life. Unfortunately, she had five marriages, all or most of them gravely unhappy. She also drank a great deal.
Later in life, Rita was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. The illness probably affected her acting many years before she was diagnosed. The public disclosure and discussion of her illness drew international attention to Alzheimer’s, then a little-known disease, and helped to greatly increase public and private funding for Alzheimer’s Research.
Did You Know?
- On one of her birthdays, when married to Prince Aly Kahn, he presented Rita with her weight’s worth of diamonds.
- Legend has it that the Margarita cocktail was named after her when she danced under her given name, Margarita Carmen Cansino, in Mexico.
- She was the first choice for the role of Ilsa in Casablanca; Ingrid Bergman was later selected for the part.
- Rita was on the cover of Life magazine five times.
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