Her first husband (Ed Judson) engineered the breakthrough as he pushed her through painful electrolysis treatment to alter her hairline, initiated an overblown publicity campaign and had her signed long term to Columbia Pictures under her new name of Rita Hayworth.
The result of this was the creation of a woman possessing such spectacular beauty that it is little wonder she shone so brilliantly on screen.
Her first A picture and the point when her career blossomed was the 1939 Howard Hawks movie Only Angels Have Wings. Despite the general approval of her performance, her brief screen appearance shows signs of her own insecurity and shyness. It was in Blood and Sand (1941), her first Technicolor film, that she showed a new facet of her acting - a raw animal grace and poise which no actress has ever come close to equalling. This was no ordinary Doņa Sol and comparing Rita in Charlie Chan in Egypt with Blood and Sand requires at least two double takes!...(scroll down).
Dec. 13: I just love this header poster of Rita in our Orson Welles film poster gallery. Check it out here.
"All I wanted was just what everybody else wants, you know, to be loved"
- RITA HAYWORTH
Biography: Fragments From a Life
Before starting her film career, Rita was first and foremost a dancer. This speciality was used to good effect as over the next few years she paired with the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in a brace of delightful musicals. Then in 1945, working with Glenn Ford, George Macready and director Charles Vidor, she began filming the film which would become her trademark and nemesis: Gilda. It was Gilda that permanently defined the Hayworth image, established the legend and condemned Rita to spending the rest of her life trying to escape it. Her oft mentioned quote "Men fall in love with Gilda and wake up with me" is a sad reflection on the two worlds she was forced to live in.
Her husband at the time of Gilda was one Orson Welles and together they made the film The Lady From Shanghai.Written and directed by Orson, the film is a massive personal statement about their relationship and it is almost chilling in places to realise the analogies weaved into the film. More positively, Orson gave Rita a chance to break from her image by cutting her hair short and dying it platinum blonde. However, due to this change in image and editorial interference from the studio, the film bombed.
She continued working in Hollywood until 1948 when after completing The Loves of Carmen, she left for Europe and married Prince Aly Khan thus becoming Hollywood's first princess.
She had two daughters: Rebecca Welles, born 17 December 1945; Yasmin Khan born 28 December 1949.
Her marriage to Prince Aly Khan ended in divorce (she was married five times) so she returned to the States and reluctantly resumed her career with Affair in Trinidad. Despite its predictability, the film is quite good fun and contains two great dance numbers for Rita. However, there was one thing missing -the Hayworth spark. During the 40's there was always an indefinable sparkle to her acting, it was an innate effervescence that coupled with her sheer physical presence made her so bewitching. Now that she had reluctantly returned to the fold and was pursuing a career under the all seeing glare of the tyrannical Harry Cohn, that spark was snuffed out. She still had her moments of course but otherwise, she gave the impression of being weary and tired. Miss Sadie Thompson and Pal Joeyare definite highlights from this period but her career began to decline and unknown at the time, she started suffering from Alzheimer's Disease (early onset of which occurred when she was just 42 in 1960 but remained undiagnosed until 1980).
As Alzheimer's took hold, her output decreased and her last film The Wrath of God was shot in 1972. By 1981 she was almost helpless. Her daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Khan who has become a leading campaigner in the fight against Alzheimer's Disease nursed Rita through her final years until she died in May 1987.
She was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, USA, in the Grotto section, L196, #6 (to the right of the main sidewalk, near the curb).
Rita Hayworth was never a great actress in the conventional sense; the power of her screen presence was a combination of staggering beauty, electric dancing and the ability to play with audiences' imagination through her use of subtle gestures. This is not to say that she couldn't act - far from it - her best performances have an open natural air to them which other actresses in the same role would only hint at or make seem convoluted.
Dancing was her forte and in my opinion she was the best that Hollywood has seen. Not only was her movement instinctive but she also imbued her dancing with that vital ingredient: enjoyment. Her duets with Fred Astaire show this to best advantage where occasional glances indicate how she is wrapped up in the dance, ready and anticipating the next step. Additionally, her timing was always spot on and this also enabled the dubbing of her songs to work so well. The Please don't kiss me song in The Lady from Shanghai would be a nightmare for any actress lacking this ability but Rita handles it perfectly and creates an air of awesome stillness with her pauses between the song's last lines.
Branded as the screen's Love Goddess, Rita became a legend but one which does not attract the same attention today as do the likes of Monroe or Dean. This is a shame because she deserves much more recognition. Ignore her films of the late 50's onwards and those made before 1940. Instead, concentrate on the legacy of her golden period during the 40's when from Blood and Sand through to The Loves of Carmen, she was at the peak of her powers.
For this she deserves to be remembered.
- Paul Page, 2015
I M A G E S
Separate Tables UK Dvd now in stock
Rita Hayworth Dvds
Rita Hayworth Dvds @ amazon.com (direct link)
Rita Hayworth Biography Books @ amazon.com (direct link)
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