Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth
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Rita Hayworth
Cruz Diablo
In Caliente
Charlie Chan in Egypt
Dante's Inferno (1935 film)
Meet Nero Wolfe
Hit the Saddle
Paid to Dance
The Shadow
There's Always a Woman
The Renegade Ranger
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt
Only Angels Have Wings
Susan and God
The Lady in Question
Angels Over Broadway
The Strawberry Blonde
Blood and Sand (1941 film)
You'll Never Get Rich
My Gal Sal
Tales of Manhattan
You Were Never Lovelier
Show Business at War
Cover Girl (film)
Tonight and Every Night
Down to Earth (1947 film)
The Lady from Shanghai
The Loves of Carmen
Affair in Trinidad
Salome (1953 film)
Miss Sadie Thompson
Fire Down Below (1957 film)
Pal Joey (film)
Separate Tables
They Came to Cordura
The Story on Page One (film)
The Happy Thieves
Circus World (film)
The Money Trap
The Poppy Is Also a Flower
Sons of Satan
Road to Salina
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Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth
in Blood and Sand
Margarita Carmen CansinoOctober 17, 1918Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
May 14, 1987 (aged 68)New York City, New York, U.S.
Actress, dancer
Years active 1934–1972
Edward C. Judson (1937–1942)
Orson Welles (1943–1948)
Prince Aly Khan (1949–1953)
Dick Haymes (1953–1955)
James Hill (1958–1961)
Eduardo Cansino, Sr.
Volga Hayworth
Eduardo Cansino, Jr.
(brother, deceased)
Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987) was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame
during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars. She appeared in 61 films over 37 years[1] and is listed as one of the
American Film Institute's Greatest Stars of All Time.
Early life and career
Born as Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York, Hayworth was the daughter of Spanish flamenco
dancer Eduardo Cansino, Sr. and Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth who was of Irish and English descent. She was
raised as a Roman Catholic. Her father wanted her to become a dancer while her mother hoped she would become
an actress. Her grandfather, Antonio Cansino, was the most renowned exponent in his day of Spain's classical
dances; he made the bolero famous. His dancing school in Madrid was world famous. He gave Hayworth her first
instruction in dancing.[4]
"I didn't like it very much ... but I didn't have the courage to tell my father, so I began taking the lessons.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, that was my girlhood."[5] "From the time I was three and a half ... as soon
as I could stand on my own feet, I was given dance lessons."
She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex under the instruction of her uncle
Angel Cansino. When she was eight years old, her father moved his family west to Hollywood, where he established
his own dance studio. Famous Hollywood luminaries, including James Cagney and Jean Harlow, received
specialized training from Cansino himself. Hayworth's rise to fame was a silver lining of the Great Depression. The
Rita Hayworth
family's investments were wiped out instantly. Musicals were no longer in vogue. Interest in her father's work
collapsed as dancing classes were no longer prioritized during difficult economic times. But, when his nephew's
dancing partner in a theater play broke a leg, her mother suggested her daughter could replace him: "Margarita can
do it!"
Her mother's idea led to her father having an epiphany. He saw his daughter could be his partner in a dancing team
called "The Dancing Cansinos". Since Hayworth was not of legal age to work in nightclubs and bars according to
California state law, she and her father traveled across the border to the city of Tijuana in Mexico, a popular tourist
spot for Los Angeles citizens in the early 1930s. Hayworth performed in such spots as the Foreign Club and the
Caliente Club.
It was at the Caliente Club where Hayworth was first discovered by the head of the Fox Film Corporation, Winfield
Sheehan. A week later, Hayworth was brought to Hollywood to make a screen test for Fox. Impressed by her screen
persona, Sheehan signed Hayworth (who was now being referred to as Rita Cansino) to a short-term six-month
During her time at Fox, Hayworth appeared in five pictures, in which her roles were neither important nor
memorable. By the end of her six-month contract, Fox had now merged into 20th Century Fox, with Darryl F.
Zanuck serving as the executive producer. Taking little concern for Sheehan's interest in her, Zanuck decided not to
renew her contract.
By this time, Hayworth was eighteen years old and she married businessman Edward C. Judson, who was twice her
age. Feeling that Hayworth still had screen potential, despite just being dropped by Fox, Judson managed to get her
the lead roles in several independent films and finally managed to arrange a screen test for her with Columbia
Pictures. Studio head Harry Cohn soon signed her to a long-term contract, slowly casting Hayworth in small roles in
Columbia features.
Cohn argued that Hayworth's image was too much of a Mediterranean style, which caused Hayworth to be cast into
stereotypical Hispanic roles. She began to undergo a painful electrolysis to broaden her forehead and accentuate her
widow's peak. When Hayworth returned to Columbia, she had transformed into a redhead and changed her name to
Rita Hayworth (Hayworth from her mother's maiden name).
Becoming a major star
Hayworth had an awkward transition from teen nightclub dancer to major movie star. She was a dancer first and
foremost; acting was an afterthought seen as a way to earn a living.
Gossip columnist Louella Parsons did not think Hayworth would be successful. She met Hayworth just when she
was starting out, and saw her as a "painfully shy" girl who "couldn’t look strangers in the eye" and whose voice was
so low it could hardly be heard.
In 1935, when Hayworth was 17, she was dropped from the movie Ramona and replaced by Loretta Young. "It was
the worst disappointment of my life," Hayworth said. She was devastated but did not give up. In 1937, she appeared
in five minor Columbia pictures and three minor independent movies. In 1938, Hayworth appeared in five more
Columbia B films.
In 1939, Cohn pressured director Howard Hawks to use Hayworth for a small but important role as a man-trap in the
aviation drama Only Angels Have Wings, in which she played opposite Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. A large
box-office success, fan mail for Hayworth began pouring into Columbia's publicity department and Cohn began to
see Hayworth as his first and official new star (the studio had never officially had large stars under contract, except
for Jean Arthur, who was trying to break out of her Columbia contract).
Cohn began to build Hayworth up the following year, in features such as Music in My Heart, The Lady in Question,
and Angels Over Broadway. He even loaned Hayworth out to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in Susan and God,
opposite Joan Crawford.
Rita Hayworth
On loan to Warner Brothers, Hayworth appeared as the second female lead in The Strawberry Blonde (1941),
opposite James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland. A large box-office success, Hayworth's popularity rose and she
immediately became one of Hollywood's hottest properties. So impressed was Warner Brothers that they tried to buy
Hayworth's contract from Columbia, but Harry Cohn refused to release her.
Her success in that film led to an even more important supporting role in Blood and Sand (1941), opposite Tyrone
Power and Linda Darnell, ironically by Fox, the studio that had dropped her six years before. In one of her most
notable screen roles, Hayworth played the first of many screen sirens as the temptress Doña Sol des Muire. This was
another box-office hit. She returned in triumph to Columbia Pictures and was cast in the musical You'll Never Get
Rich (1941), opposite Fred Astaire in one of the highest-budgeted films Columbia had ever made. So successful was
the picture that the following year, another Astaire-Hayworth picture was released You Were Never Lovelier. In
1942, Hayworth also appeared in two other pictures, Tales of Manhattan and My Gal Sal.
It was during this period that Hayworth posed for a famous pin-up in Life Magazine, which showed her in a negligee
perched seductively on her bed. When the U.S. joined World War II in December 1941, Hayworth's image was
admired by millions of servicemen, making her one of the top two pin-up girls of the war years, the other being
blonde Betty Grable. In 2002, the satin nightgown she wore for the picture sold for $26,888.[6]
Rita Hayworth was called the "Love Goddess". (One biopic and one biography used the moniker in reference to her.)
Despite being a sex symbol, due to her Spanish heritage of female decency she showed discretion. "Everybody else
does nude scenes," Hayworth said, "but I don't. I never made nude movies. I didn't have to do that. I danced. I was
provocative, I guess, in some things. But I was not completely exposed."[7]
The peak years at Columbia
For three consecutive years, starting in 1944, Rita Hayworth was named one
of the top movie box office attractions in the world. In 1944, she made one of
her best-known films, the Technicolor musical Cover Girl (1944), with Gene
Kelly. The film established her as Columbia's top star of the 1940s. Hayworth
was adept in ballet, tap, ballroom, and Spanish routines. Cohn continued to
effectively showcase Hayworth's talents in Technicolor films: Tonight and
Every Night (1945), with Lee Bowman, and Down to Earth (1947), with
Larry Parks.
Hayworth in October 1941 in a pink and
silver lamé evening dress designed by
Howard Greer.
Rita Hayworth
Her erotic appeal was most notable in Charles Vidor's black-and-white film
noir Gilda (1946), with Glenn Ford, which encountered some difficulty with
censors. This role–in which Hayworth in black satin performed a legendary
one-glove striptease–made her into a cultural icon as the ultimate femme
fatale. Alluding to her bombshell status, in 1946, it was reported that her
likeness was placed on the first nuclear bomb to be tested after World War II
(at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands) as part of Operation
Crossroads. However, recent research suggests all that was on the bomb was
the word "GILDA".[8]
Hayworth performed one of her best-remembered dance routines, the samba
from Tonight and Every Night (1945), while pregnant with her first child,
Rebecca Welles (daughter with Orson Welles). Hayworth was also the first dancer to partner with both Fred Astaire
and Gene Kelly on film.
Hayworth in the strip scene from Gilda.
She delivered one of her most acclaimed performances in Welles's The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Its failure at the
box office was attributed in part to director/co-star Welles having had Hayworth's famous red locks cut off and the
remainder of her hair dyed blonde for her role. This was done without Cohn's knowledge or approval and he was
furious over the change. Her next film, The Loves of Carmen (1948), again with Glenn Ford, was the first film
co-produced by Columbia and Hayworth's own production company, The Beckworth Corporation (named for her
daughter Rebecca); it was Columbia's biggest moneymaker for that year. She received a percentage of the profits
from this and all her subsequent films until 1955 when she dissolved Beckworth to pay off debts she owed to
Struggles with Columbia
Hayworth had a strained relationship with Columbia Pictures for many years. In 1943, she was suspended without
pay for nine weeks because she refused to appear in My Client Curley.[9] (During this period in Hollywood actors did
not get to choose their films as they do today; they also had salaries instead of a fixed amount per picture.) In 1945,
Hayworth received notice of her suspension by her employers, Columbia Pictures, "on the day she entered the
maternity hospital in Hollywood."[10]
In 1947, Rita Hayworth's new contract with Columbia provided a salary of US$250,000 plus 50% of film profits.[11]
In 1951 Columbia alleged it had $800,000 invested in properties for her, including the film she walked out on when
she left Hollywood and married Aly Khan. She was suspended again for failing to report for work, this time for
Affair in Trinidad. In 1952 she refused to report for work because "she objected to the script."[12] In 1955, she sued
to get out of a contract with the studio, asking for her $150,000 salary, alleging filming failed to start work when
"I was in Switzerland when they sent me the script for Affair in Trinidad and I threw it across the room. But I did the
picture, and Pal Joey too. I came back to Columbia because I wanted to work and first, see, I had to finish that
goddamn contract, which is how Harry Cohn owned me!"[14]
"Harry Cohn thought of me as one of the people he could exploit," alleged Hayworth, "and make a lot of money.
And I did make a lot of money for him, but not much for me."[15]
Hayworth was still upset with Columbia and its head Harry Cohn many years after her film career had ended and he
was dead. "I used to have to punch a time clock at Columbia," lamented Hayworth. "Every day of my life. That's
what it was like. I was under exclusive contract – like they owned me... He felt that he owned me... I think he had
my dressing room bugged... He was very possessive of me as a person – he didn't want me to go out with anybody,
have any friends. No one can live that way. So I fought him ... You want to know what I think of Harry Cohn? He
was a monster."[16]
Rita Hayworth
Another source of "gnawing resentment" for Hayworth was her studio's failure to train her to sing or even encourage
her to learn how to sing.[17] Although she appeared to sing in many of her films, it was almost always dubbed. The
public didn't know this closely guarded secret, and she ended up embarrassed because at USO shows she was
constantly asked by the troops to sing.[18]
"I wanted to study singing," Hayworth complained, "but Harry Cohn kept saying, 'Who needs it?' and the studio
wouldn't pay for it. They had me so intimidated that I couldn't have done it anyway. They always said, 'Oh, no, we
can't let you do it. There's no time for that; it has to be done right now!' I was under contract, and that was it."[19]
Although Cohn had a reputation as a hard taskmaster, he also had legitimate criticisms of Hayworth. He had invested
heavily in her before she began a reckless affair with a married man (Aly Khan) even though it could have caused a
backlash against her career and Columbia's success. A British newspaper called for a boycott of Hayworth's films.
"Hollywood must be told", said The People, "its already tarnished reputation will sink to rock bottom if it restores
this reckless woman to a place among its stars."[20]
Cohn himself expressed his frustration with Hayworth's relationships in an interview with Time magazine.
"Hayworth might be worth ten million dollars today easily! She owned 25% of the profits with her own company
and had hit after hit and she had to get married and had to get out of the business and took a suspension because she
fell in love again! In five years, at two pictures a year, at 25%! Think of what she could have made! But she didn't
make pictures! She took two or three suspensions! She got mixed up with different characters! Unpredictable!"[21]
Later career
After her marriage to Aly Khan collapsed in 1951, Hayworth returned to America with great fanfare to star in a
string of hit films: Affair in Trinidad (1952) with favorite co-star Glenn Ford, Salome (1953) with Charles Laughton
and Stewart Granger, and Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) with José Ferrer and Aldo Ray, for which her performance
won critical acclaim. Then she was off the big screen for another four years, due mainly to a tumultuous marriage to
singer Dick Haymes. After making Fire Down Below (1957) with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, and her last
musical Pal Joey (1957) with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, Hayworth finally left Columbia. She received good
reviews for her acting in such films as Separate Tables (1958) with Burt Lancaster and David Niven, and The Story
on Page One (1960) with Anthony Franciosa, and continued working throughout the 1960s. In 1962, her planned
Broadway debut in Step on a Crack was cancelled for undisclosed health reasons.[22]
She continued to act in films until the early 1970s and made a well-publicized 1971 television appearance on The
Carol Burnett Show. Her last film was The Wrath of God (1972).
Rita Hayworth
Physical appearance
Hayworth was a top glamour girl in the 1940s. She was
a pin-up girl for military servicemen and a beauty icon
for women. At 5'6" (168 cm) and 120 lb (55 kgs)[23]
she was tall enough for her height to be a concern to
dancing partners like Fred Astaire. Hayworth got her
big motion picture break because she was willing to
change her hair color whereas another actress was
unwilling. She reportedly changed her hair color eight
times in eight movies.[24]
In 1949 Hayworth's lips were voted best in the world
by the Artists League of America.[25] She had a
modeling contract with Max Factor to promote its
Tru-Color lipsticks and Pan-Stik make-up.
Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford in Gilda
Unrealized film projects
The following were movies and roles that Hayworth either was considered for, turned down by Hayworth herself,
replaced with someone else, or never sufficed, for various reasons.
• A Message to Garcia (1936) Hayworth had a small role as the sister of Barbara Stanwyck but it was deleted
before general release.
• Ramona (1936) Hayworth made color screen tests for the role but Hayworth was later dropped from Fox and
given to Loretta Young.
• The Lady Escapes (1937) Also a Fox feature, Hayworth was dropped before appearing in a Spanish language
version of this picture.
• Holiday (1938) She tested for the role of the sister of Katharine Hepburn but the role was given to Doris Nolan
• Convicted Woman (1940) This would have been Hayworth's first feature with Glenn Ford but she was eventually
loaned out to appear in MGM's Susan and God.
• Boom Town (1940) Hayworth made a screen test for this picture, but the role instead went to MGM contractee
Hedy Lamarr.
• Tars and Spurs (1946) Hayworth was the first choice for the role but pregnancy forced her to drop out. The role
was given to Janet Blair.
• Dead Reckoning (1947) Hayworth demanded a complete rewrite for this picture and was replaced by Lizabeth
• In the mid-1940s, Fox considered a musical biography of the Duncan sisters and had planned to pair Hayworth
with Betty Grable. But the studio was not able to obtain legal clearance.
• In 1947, Columbia cast Hayworth in a Technicolor western called Lona Hanson, which was to pair her with
William Holden. It was first postponed and later cancelled.
• Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949) Hayworth was placed on suspension and was replaced with Lucille Ball.
• From Here to Eternity (1953) Hayworth demanded a vacation before shooting this picture. Deborah Kerr soon
accepted the role.
• Human Desire (1954) Hayworth failed to appear for the first scenes, was placed on suspension, and replaced with
Gloria Grahame.
Rita Hayworth
• Hayworth was given the female lead in a biblical film Joseph and His Brethren. The film was cancelled after
Cohn refused to allow ex-husbands Orson Welles and Dick Haymes to appear.
• The Barefoot Contessa (1954) Hayworth turned down the role made famous by Ava Gardner. Hayworth felt there
were too many similarities in it from her own life.
• Hayworth was given the lead in I Want My Mother! but the film was cancelled. Hayworth would have played the
mother of a psychopathic killer awaiting execution in San Quentin.
• Hayworth was given the lead in the film version OF There Must Be A Pony but it was later cancelled. She would
have played a fading film star in a suicide scandal.
• Welcome to Hard Times (1967) Hayworth was supposed to co-star with Glenn Ford but eventually both dropped
• She was offered one of the female leads in a horror film along with Lana Turner in the late 1960s but turned down
the offer.
• Tales That Witness Madness (1973) Hayworth worked for four days on this film then quit without explanation
and was replaced by Kim Novak.
Personal life
Hayworth claimed to be the antithesis of the characters she played. "I naturally am very shy... and I suffer from an
inferiority complex."[26] She once complained that "[M]en fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me." With
typical modesty she later remarked that the only films she could watch without laughing were the dance musicals she
made with Fred Astaire. "I guess the only jewels of my life," Hayworth said, "were the pictures I made with Fred
Hayworth's two younger brothers, Vernon Cansino and Eduardo Cansino, Jr., both served in World War II. Vernon
left the US Army in 1946 with several medals, including the Purple Heart, and later married Susan Vail, a dancer.
Eduardo Cansino Jr. followed Hayworth into acting; he was also under contract with Columbia Pictures. In 1950 he
made his screen debut in Magic Carpet.
Hayworth was married five times and divorced five times. Hayworth once said, "Basically, I am a good, gentle
person, but I am attracted to mean personalities."
Edward Charles Judson (1937–1942): Hayworth was 18 in 1937, she married Edward Judson, a domineering man
more than twice her age. They eloped in Las Vegas. He was an oilman turned promoter who had played a major role
in launching her acting career. He was a shrewd businessman and became her manager for months before he
proposed. "He helped me with my career," Hayworth conceded after they divorced, "and helped himself to my
money." She alleged Judson compelled her to transfer considerable property to him and promise to pay him $12,000
She filed for divorce from him on February 24, 1942 with
under threats that he would do her "great bodily harm."
the complaint of cruelty. She also noted to the press that his work took him to Oklahoma and Texas while she lived
and worked in Hollywood. Judson was as old as her father, who was enraged by the marriage, which caused a rift
between Hayworth and her parents until the divorce. Judson neglected to inform Hayworth before they married that
he had previously been married twice.[30] When she finally walked out on him, she literally had no money. She
asked her friend, Hermes Pan, if she could eat at his home, because she didn't have any money to buy food.
Orson Welles (1943–1948): Rita Hayworth married Orson Welles on September 7, 1943. None of her colleagues
even knew about the planned marriage (before a judge) until she announced it the day before they got married. For
the civil ceremony she wore a beige suit, ruffled white blouse, and a veil. A few hours after they got married, they
returned to work at the studio. They had a daughter, Rebecca Welles (1944–2004)).[31] After marital struggles, and a
final attempt at reconciliation, Hayworth said he told her he didn't want to be tied down by marriage.
Rita Hayworth
"During the entire period of our marriage", she declared, "he showed no interest in establishing a home. When I
suggested purchasing a home, he told me he didn't want the responsibility. Mr. Welles told me he never should have
married in the first place; that it interfered with his freedom in his way of life."[32]
Prince Aly Khan (1949–1953): In 1948 she left her film career to
marry Prince Aly Khan, a son of Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan
III, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. They were married on
May 27, 1949. Her bridal trousseau was Dior's New Look – after
seeing her wearing it, every woman began to wear the
somewhat-controversial longer hemline.
Hayworth as Rosalind Bruce in Tonight and
Every Night (1945).
Aly Khan and his family were heavily involved in horse racing, so
although Hayworth did not like horses or thoroughbred horse racing,
she became a member of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Hayworth's
filly Double Rose won several races in France and notably finished
second in the 1949 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.[33]
In 1951, while still married to Hayworth, Khan was spotted dancing with Joan Fontaine in the nightclub where he
and his wife met. Hayworth responded by issuing an ultimatum and threatening to divorce him in Reno, Nevada. In
early May she moved to Nevada to establish legal residence to qualify for a divorce. She holed up in Lake Tahoe
with her daughter despite a threat to kidnap her child. When she filed for divorce from Khan on September 2, 1951,
she did so on the grounds of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in nature."[34]
Hayworth once said she might convert to Islam like her husband. During the custody fight over their daughter
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan), Prince Khan said he wanted her raised as a Muslim; whereas Hayworth (who had been
raised a Roman Catholic) wanted the child to be a Christian.[35]
In fact, Hayworth had rejected a $1,000,000 offer to raise Yasmin as a Muslim from age seven and allow her to go to
Europe for two or three months each year.
"Nothing will make me give up Yasmin's chance to live here in America among our precious freedoms
and habits", declared Hayworth. "While I respect the Muslim faith and all other faiths it is my earnest
wish that my daughter be raised as a normal, healthy American girl in the Christian faith. There isn't any
amount of money in the entire world for which it is worth sacrificing this child's privilege of living as a
normal Christian girl here in the United States. There just isn't anything else in the world that can
compare with her sacred chance to do that. And I'm going to give it to Yasmin regardless of what it
Dick Haymes (1953–1955): When Rita and Dick first met, he was still married and his singing career was waning,
but when the Love Goddess showed up at the clubs, he got a larger audience. (Without her, hardly anyone paid
attention.) Haymes was desperate for money as two of his former wives were taking legal action against him for
unpaid child support. In fact his financial problems were so bad he could not even return to California without being
On July 7, 1954, his ex-wife Nora Haymes got a bench warrant for his arrest, because he owed her
$3,800 in alimony. Less than a week prior, his other ex-wife, Joanne Dru, also got a bench warrant because she said
he owed $4,800 in support payments for their three children.[38] It was Hayworth who ended up paying most of
Haymes's debts.
Haymes was born in Argentina, and didn't have solid proof of American citizenship. The authorities initiated
proceedings to have him deported back to Argentina for being an illegal alien not long after he met Hayworth. He
hoped Hayworth could influence the government and keep him in the United States. When she assumed
responsibility for his citizenship, a bond was formed that led to marriage. The two were married on September 24,
1953 at the Sands Hotel, Las Vegas, their wedding procession marching through the casino itself.
Rita Hayworth
From the start, their marriage was in trouble with Haymes deeply indebted to the Internal Revenue Service. When
Rita took time off from attending his comeback performances in Philadelphia, crowd numbers plummeted and when
Haymes's $5000 weekly salary was attached by the IRS to pay a $100,000 bill, he was unable to even pay his pianist.
Haymes' ex-wives demanded money while Hayworth publicly bemoaned her own lack of alimony from Aly Khan.
At one point, the couple was effectively imprisoned in a hotel room for 24 hours in Manhattan at the Hotel Madison
as sheriff's deputies waited outside threatening to arrest Haymes for outstanding debts. All of this happened against a
backdrop of death threats to Hayworth's children and an ongoing custody battle she was fighting with Khan. During
the time she was living in a hotel in New York, Hayworth sent the children to live with their nanny in Westchester
County. There they were found and photographed by a reporter from Confidential magazine. That the photographer
had been able to access them easily at the time of death-threats to them was one thing, but the article also depicted
them "in a trash littered backyard, playing among an assortment of loaded ash cans". After a tumultuous two years
together Haymes struck her in the face in 1955 in public at the Coconut Grove night club in Los Angeles. It was the
final straw in their relationship. Hayworth packed her bags, walked out, and never returned. The extreme event
leading to Hayworth's separation shook her so badly she had a "severe emotional shock", according to her doctor,
who ordered her to remain in bed for several days.[39]
Hayworth also found herself very short of money after her marriage to Haymes and having pursued Aly Khan for
child support money throughout her marriage to Haymes, she now sued Orson Welles for back payment of child
support she claimed had never been paid. As well as being ultimately unsuccessful, this only added to her stressed
condition and on the set of Fire Down Below she was seen tearing up her bundle of mail and scattering the scraps in
the sea. On being told one of these letters may have contained money she remarked "more trouble than money".
James Hill (1958–1961): After Haymes, Hayworth began another relationship with film producer James Hill, whom
she went on to marry. By his own account, Hill started with the best intentions but wound up "as anxious to use her
as all the rest." On February 2, 1958, Hayworth married Hill, who put her in one of her last major films, Separate
Tables. On September 1, 1961, Hayworth filed for divorce from Hill, alleging extreme mental cruelty. He later wrote
the book Rita Hayworth: A Memoir in which he suggested their marriage collapsed because he wanted Hayworth to
continue making movies while she wanted both of them to retire from the Hollywood scene.
Charlton Heston, in his book, In the Arena, sheds some light on Hayworth's brief marriage to Hill. Heston had never
met her when he and his wife Lydia joined Hayworth and Hill for dinner in a restaurant in Spain with director
George Marshall and Rex Harrison, Hayworth's co-star in The Happy Thieves. Heston, who was in Spain making El
Cid, writes on page 253 of his memoir (HarperCollins paperback version) that "it turned into the single most
embarrassing evening of my life", describing how Hill heaped "obscene abuse" on Hayworth until she was "reduced
to a helpless flood of tears, her face buried in her hands". Heston writes how they all sat stunned, witnesses to a
"marital massacre" and though he was "strongly tempted to slug him" (Hill), he instead simply took his wife Lydia
home when she stood up, almost in tears herself. Heston ended by writing, "I'm ashamed of walking away from Miss
Hayworth's humiliation. I never saw her again."
Rita Hayworth
Health problems
Hayworth struggled with alcohol throughout
her life. "I remember as a child", said her
daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, "that she had a
drinking problem. She had difficulty coping
with the ups and downs of the business....
As a child, I thought, 'She has a drinking
problem and she's an alcoholic.' That was
very clear and I thought, 'Well, there's not
much I can do. I can just, sort of, stand by
and watch.' It's very difficult, seeing your
mother, going through her emotional
problems and drinking and then behaving in
that manner. . . . Her condition became quite
bad. It worsened and she did have an
alcoholic breakdown and landed in the
Hayworth in Blood and Sand.
In 1972, Hayworth was 54 years old and wanted to retire from acting, but she was in need of money and reluctantly
signed up for The Wrath of God. The experience, however, exposed her poor health and worsening mental state. She
could not remember lines, so they had to film her scenes one line at a time. Extreme memory loss left her very
nervous and resistant to doing at least one scene, which was then done by a double.
Even so, the following year Hayworth agreed to do one more movie, Tales That Witness Madness (1973). Her health
was even worse by that time, so she abandoned the movie set, and returned to America. She never returned to
In March 1974, both her brothers died within a week of each other, saddening her greatly, and causing her to drink
even more heavily than before. In 1976 at London's Heathrow Airport, Hayworth was removed from a TWA flight
during which she had an angry outburst while traveling with her agent. "Miss Hayworth had been drinking when she
boarded the plane," revealed a TWA flight attendant, "and had several free drinks during the flight." The event
attracted much negative publicity; a disturbing photograph was published in newspapers showing her looking very
disheveled, sad, lost, ill, and barely recognizable.[42]
Hayworth's alcoholism confused family, friends, colleagues – and even doctors – who were unable to immediately
recognize Alzheimer's disease. "For several years in the 1970s, she had been misdiagnosed as an alcoholic."[43]
"It was the outbursts," said her daughter, "She'd fly into a rage. I can't tell you. I thought it was alcoholism-alcoholic
dementia. We all thought that. The papers picked that up, of course. You can't imagine the relief just in getting a
diagnosis. We had a name at last, Alzheimer's! Of course, that didn't really come until the last seven or eight years.
She wasn't diagnosed as having Alzheimer's until 1980. There were two decades of hell before that."
In July 1981, Hayworth's health had deteriorated to the point where a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that
because she was suffering from senile dementia, and no longer able to care for herself, she should be placed under
the care of her daughter, Princess Yasmin Khan of New York City.[45] She then lived in an apartment at The San
Remo on Central Park West next to her daughter, who looked after her during her final years until she died.