top of page
  • Lila Dekhi

ICON OF THE WEEK: Rita Hayworth

Written and Created by LD

RH on the set of "Gilda"

Margarita Carmen Cansino aka Rita Hayworth was born on October 17th, 1918 in Brooklyn, NY.

Growing up, Hayworth wasn't a very good student but the field she excelled in was dancing. Although, she didn't love it, she says she did it to make her father happy. Rita's parents were both professional dancers.

Her father made his daughter quit school at the age of 12 and become a full-time dancer and his dance partner. Rita and her father would do dance numbers at nightclubs in the U.S. and Mexico.

It wasn't until one night on stage at a club in Agua Caliente, Mexico, Hayworth only 16 years old, got discovered by a Fox Film Company producer, given a contract, and Hollywood became Rita's next chapter in life.

After scoring some roles, she was dropped by

20th Century Fox a few months later but was then given a contract from Columbia.

Wayne Baxter and RH in Under the Pampas Moon (1935)

In 1935, Ms. Hayworth made her Hollywood debut in film Under the Pampas Moon.

She had other parts after that in films such as Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), Hi, Gaucho (1935), Rebellion (1936), Human Cargo (1936), Trouble in Texas (1937), Paid to Dance (1937), and many more.

RH and Edward C. Judson

Rita Hayworth marries first husband Edward C. Judson in 1937. He was Rita's manager and was the one to convince her to not only change her name from Margarita Cansino to Rita Hayworth but to also have her hair dyed auburn instead of keeping her dark roots. Hayworth and Judson had a rocky marriage. When she stared in film Blood and Sand, she became more confident and chose to leave her husband. They were together for 5 years.

Fred Astaire & RH in "You'll Never Get Rich"

It wasn't until the film Strawberry Blonde (1941) that truly gave Rita her big break, and soon after followed with musical You'll Never Get Rich (1941) which starred famous actor and dancer, Fred Astaire.

Mr. Astaire had worked with many stars in the past and in his autobiography, Steps in Time, called Hayworth his favorite dance partner.

RH photographed by Bob Landry for LIFE Magazine (1941)

Fun Fact: During the same year (1941) that Hayworth started achieving bigger and better roles...Rita was photographed for LIFE Magazine and of the many different shots taken, she wore a black negligee in a particular session and this very photograph became one of the most famous pin-up posters of all time. When the U.S. was going to war, soldiers took this photo with them, so that they could be reminded of home. After WW2, over 5 millions copies of this photograph were sold.

RH and Orson Welles

In 1942, Rita met her second husband, actor and director, Orson Welles. By next year, they would be married on September 7th 1943. On December 17th 1944, Hayworth and Welles welcomed their only daughter, Rebecca Welles. The couple were married until 1947.

RH in Gilda (1946)

The 40's became a successful decade in Hayworth's career. She booked major roles

in films like Down to Earth (1940), Strawberry Blonde (1941), You'll Never Get Rich (1941), Blood and Sand (1941), Tales of Manhattan (1942), You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Cover Girl (1944), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), etc. But the picture that made Rita a movie star and is known as her most famous role was "Gilda" (1946).

Classic film noir "Gilda" was iconic for a number reasons. The femme fatale character. The wardrobe designed by Jean Louis. The Storyline. And who can forget, the infamous hair-flip. This film even earned her the nickname, "The Love Goddess."

RH and Prince Aly Khan photographed on their wedding day in 1949

In 1948, Hayworth and Welles' marriage was over and while she was visiting France, she was introduced to Prince Aly Khan. They married on May 27th, 1949, in Vallauris, France. Hayworth left Hollywood behind to start her new life. The couple welcomed a baby girl named Yasmin Aga Khan on December 28th, 1949, the same year they tied the knot. Khan once said, "Seven-month babies are common in the family."

A year and half later, Hayworth left Prince Aly Khan due to him being unfaithful. Their divorce was finalized in 1953.

Ms. Hayworth in 1953 film, "Salome."

Rita made her official return to Hollywood in the early fifties and the same year she and Prince Aly Khan divorced, Hayworth was starring in the picture Salome (1953). She starred in several other films during the 50's such as Affair in Trinidad (1952), Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), Fire Down Below (1957), Pal Joey (1957), Separate Tables (1958), The Story on Page One (1959), etc.

Her 60's films weren't known for being her best when comparing them to her earlier pictures in the 40's and 50's. She appeared in a couple more films in the 70's. Her last film she acted in was called The Wrath of God (1972).

She married for the fourth time to one of the most famous crooners of the 20th Century, Dick Haymes. They married each other during a ceremony at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, NV on September 24th 1953. The short-lived marriage lasted until 1955. Rita married for the fifth and final time to film producer/screenwriter James Hill on February 2nd 1958 and the two were divorced in September 1961.

Rita H. and Choreographer Jack Cole rehearsing a scene for film "Tonight and Every Night"

When Hayworth's film career was diminishing, she wanted to give stage acting a try but this turned out unsuccessful due to her having difficulty memorizing her lines.

Rita with daughters Yasmin (Left) and Rebecca (Right)

Unfortunately, Hayworth had been struggling with alcohol issues for some time and in 1980, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She lived with the disease for several years and passed away on May 14, 1987 at the age of 68 in her apartment in Manhattan, NY.

"I have always felt that one of the secrets of real beauty is simplicity."

—Rita Hayworth

Thank you for reading my 3rd Icon of the Week Issue!!

Xoxo LD 💋

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page