The definitive femme fatale of the 1940s, Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in New York on October 17, 1918 into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo was a dancer as was her mother, a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl named Volga Haworth. Rita, herself, was trained as a dancer in order to follow in her family's footsteps. She joined her family on stage when she was 8 when her family was filmed in a movie called "La Fiesta" (1926). It was her first film appearance, albeit uncredited, but by no means was it to be her last. Rita was seen dancing by a Fox executive and was impressed enough to offer her a contract.

Rita's 'second' debut was in the film Cruz Diablo (1934) at the age of 16. She made a few '30s films under her real name, Margarita Cansino, and with her real hair color (black), including Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) and Meet Nero Wolfe (1936). Over the next few years — at the urging of Columbia Studios and her first husband — she reshaped her hairline with electrolysis, dyed her hair auburn, and adopted the name Rita Hayworth. Following her performance in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), when she played Judy McPherson, she became a major leading lady to most of the big stars. By this time she was at Columbia where she was getting top billing but it was Warner Brothers film The Strawberry Blonde (1941) that seemed to set her apart from the rest of what she had previously done. This was the film that exuded the warmth and seductive vitality that was to make her famous. Her natural, raw beauty was showcased later that year in Blood and Sand (1941) filmed in Technicolor. She was probably the second most popular actress after Betty Grable. In "You'll never get Rich" with Fred Astaire, in 1941, was probably the film that moviegoers felt close to Rita. Her dancing, for which she had trained all her life, was astounding.

In 1943 Rita broke off her engagement to Victor Mature and married Orson Welles. They had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1944. In 1946 Rita played a femme-fatale in Gilda. It became the most successful film of her career. In 1948 Orson directed Rita in the film-noir The Lady from Shanghai. As a publicity stunt he made Rita cut her hair and dye it blonde. Orson and Rita's marriage ended shortly after the movie was finished.

In 1949 Rita quit making movies and became a real life princess when she married Prince Aly Khan. Their daughter, Yasmin, was born that December. Rita and Aly's marriage ended in 1952 but they would continue to fight over custody of Yasmin until Aly's death in 1960. Rita returned to Hollywood with a starring role in the drama Affair In Trinidad. In 1953 Rita married singer Dick Haymes. The marriage lasted two years. It was reported that Dick abused Rita. Rita made a couple of movies Salome (1953) and Pal Joey (1957), but the roles were becoming fewer and fewer. Part of the reasons for the downward spiral was television, but also Rita had been replaced by the new star at Columbia, Kim Novak.

She married producer James Hill in 1958 but this marriage also ended in divorce. Now in her forties Rita was finding it difficult to remember her lines. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and retired from making movies. Her final film was The Wrath of God (1972). Her career was really never the same after "Gilda". Her dancing had made the film and had made her. Perhaps Gene Ringgold said it best when he remarked, "Rita Hayworth is not an actress of great depth. She was a dancer, a glamorous personality and a sex symbol. These qualities are such that they can carry her no further professionally". Perhaps he was right but Hayworth fans would vehemently disagree with him.

Rita was cared for by her daughter, Yasmin, until her death on May 14, 1987. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Yasmin is now the President of Alzheimer's Disease International.


As Rita Cansino:

Dante's Inferno (1935) - dancer with Gary Leon
Under the Pampas Moon (1935) - Carmen
Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) - Nayda
Paddy O'Day (1935) - Tamara Petrovich
Human Cargo (1936) - Carmen Zoro
Meet Nero Wolfe (1936) - Maria Maringola
Rebellion (1936) - Paula Castillo
Old Louisiana (1937) - Angela Gonzalez
Hit the Saddle (1937) - Rita
Trouble in Texas (1937) - Carmen Serano

As Rita Hayworth:

Criminals of the Air (1937) - Rita
Girls Can Play (1937) - Sue Collins
Life Begins with Love (1937) - "Girlfriend"
The Shadow (1937) - Mary Gillespie
The Game That Kills (1937) - Betty Holland
Paid to Dance (1937) - Betty Morgan
Who Killed Gail Preston? (1938) - Gail Preston
There's Always a Woman (1938) - Mary
Homicide Bureau (1938) - J. G. Bliss
Convicted (1938) - Jerry Wheeler
Juvenile Court (1938) - Marcia Adams
The Renegade Ranger (1939) - Judith Alvarez
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939) - Karen
Special Inspector (1939) - Patricia Lane
Only Angels Have Wings (1939) - Judy MacPherson
Music in My Heart (1940) - Patricia O'Malley
Blondie on a Budget (1940) - Joan Forrester
 Susan and God (1940) - Leonora Stubbs
 The Lady in Question (1940) - Natalie Rouguin
Angels Over Broadway (1940) - Nina Barona
The Strawberry Blonde (1941) - Virginia Brush
Affectionately Yours (1941) - Irene Malcolm
Blood and Sand (1941) - Doņa Sol
You'll Never Get Rich (1941) - Sheila Winthrop
My Gal Sal (1942) - Sally Elliot
Tales of Manhattan (1942) - Ethel Halloway
You Were Never Lovelier (1942) - Maria Acuņa
Show Business at War (1943) -
Cover Girl (1944) - Rusty Parker
Tonight and Every Night (1945) -
Roz Bruce
Gilda (1946) - Gilda
Down to Earth (1947) - Terpsichore/Kitty Pendleton
 The Lady from Shanghai (1948) - Elsa Bannister
 The Loves of Carmen (1948) - Carmen
Champagne Safari (1952) - Herself
Affair in Trinidad (1952) - Chris Emery
Salome (1953) - Princess Salome
Miss Sadie Thompson (1954) - Sadie Thompson
 Fire Down Below (1957) - Irena
Pal Joey (1957) - Vera Simpson
Separate Tables (1958) - Ann Shankland
They Came to Cordura (1959) - Adelaide Geary
The Story on Page One (1960) - Jo Morris
 The Happy Thieves (1962) - Eve Lewis
Circus World (1964) - Lili Alfredo
The Money Trap (1966) - Rosalie
The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) - Monique
The Rover (1967) - Caterina
Sons of Satan (1969) - Martha
Road to Salina (1971) - Mara
The Wrath of God (1972) - Seņora De La Plata

For more Information

Rita Hayworth @ IMDB.COM
I would also recommend Cynthia's site (very in-depth)