10/17/1918 to 5/14/1987
She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in New York into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo was a dancer as was his father before him. He immigrated from Spain in 1913. Rita, herself, was trained as a dancer in order to follow in her familys footsteps. She joined her family on stage when she was 8 when they were filmed in a movie called La fiesta (1926). It was her first film appearance, although uncredited. 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 continued to play small bit parts in several films under the name of "Rita Cansino" until she played the second female lead in Only Angels Have Wings (1939) when she played "Judy McPherson".
The studio head at Columbia Pictures Harry Cohn, changed her name to Hayworth and approved raising her hairline by electrolysis. Her famous red hair was not her real colour, her natural colour was black.
By this time, she was at Columbia where she was getting top billing, but it was the Warner Brothers film The Strawberry Blonde (1941) that set her apart from the rest. 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 (1941) with Fred Astaire, her dancing, for which she had trained all her life, was astounding.
Rita was the producers first choice for the film Casablanca (1942), but they couldnt get her and were fortunate to get Ingrid Bergman.
After the hit Gilda (1946), her career waned, although she was still making movies, they never approached her earlier work. Part of the reasons for the downward spiral was television, but also Rita had been replaced by the new star at Columbia, Kim Novak.
After a few, rather forgettable films in the 1960s, her career was essentially over. Her final film was The Wrath of God (1972). Her career was really never the same after Gilda (1946). 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, herself, said, "Every man I have known has fallen in love with Gilda and wakened with me".
Rita married 5 times and had two children, her husbands included Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan, making her the first actress to become a Princess (before Grace Kelly).
By 1980, Rita was wracked with Alzheimer's Disease. It ravaged her so, that she finally died on May 14, 1987 in New York City at the age of 68.