Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth

October 17, 1918, Brooklyn, New York – May 14, 1987, Manhattan, New York


Rita Hayworth (Margarita Carmen Cansino) was an American dancer and film actress who rose to glamorous stardom in the 1940s and ’50s.

Daughter of dancers, Hayworth as a child worked as a professional dancer with her parents’ nightclub act. While still a teenager, she caught the attention of a Hollywood producer, and in the mid-1930s she began appearing in films, using her given name of Rita Cansino. Movies from this period include Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), Dante’s Inferno (1935), and Meet Nero Wolfe (1936). On the advice of her first husband, Edward Judson (who became her manager), she changed her name to Rita Hayworth and dyed her hair auburn, cultivating a sophisticated glamour that first registered with her role as an unfaithful wife who tries to seduce Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) Excerpt

After a few inconsequential films, Hayworth gradually rose to the rank of star, playing femmes fatales in quality melodramas such as The Lady in Question (1940), Blood and Sand (1941), and The Strawberry Blonde (1941). Her dancing skills were well showcased opposite Fred Astaire (who in later years cited Hayworth as his favourite dance partner) in You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) Boogie Barcarolle

and You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

You Were Never Lovelier (1941) The Shorty George

and with Gene Kelly in Cover Girl (1944)

Cover Girl (1944) Make Way for Tomorrow

She appeared in a total of 61 films over 37 years. The press coined the term love goddess to describe Hayworth after she had become the most glamorous screen idol of the 1940s. She was the top pin-up girl for GIs during World War II.

The Lady from Shanghai (1947) Funhouse mirrors

The definitive Hayworth film is undoubtedly Gilda (1946), in which she appeared opposite Glenn Ford, her frequent costar and featured Hayworth’ song Put the Blame on Mame, perhaps the actress’s most famous film scene.

Gilda (1946) Put The Blame On Mame

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