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Rita Hayworth

Her sexy, glamorous appeal was most noted in Charles Vidor’s film noir Gilda (1946) with Glenn Ford, which caused censors some consternation.

Rita Hayworth

Filmography

1926      

La Fiesta

 

1934      

Cruz Diablo

 

1935      

In Caliente

Under the Pampas Moon

Charlie Chan in Egypt

Dante’s Inferno

Piernas de seda

Hi, Gaucho!

Paddy O’Day

 

1936      

Professional Soldier

Human Cargo

Dancing Pirate

Meet Nero Wolfe

Rebellion

 

1937      

Old Louisiana

Hit the Saddle

Trouble in Texas

Criminals of the Air

Girls Can Play

The Game That Kills

Life Begins with Love

Paid to Dance

The Shadow

 

1938      

Who Killed Gail Preston?

Special Inspector

There’s Always a Woman

Convicted

Juvenile Court

The Renegade Ranger

 

1939      

Homicide Bureau

The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt

Only Angels Have Wings

 

1940      

Music in My Heart

Blondie on a Budget

Susan and God

The Lady in Question

Angels Over Broadway

 

1941      

The Strawberry Blonde

Affectionately Yours

Blood and Sand

You’ll Never Get Rich

 

1942      

My Gal Sal

Tales of Manhattan

You Were Never Lovelier

 

1944      

Cover Girl

 

1945      

Tonight and Every Night

 

1946      

Gilda

 

1947      

Down to Earth

The Lady from Shanghai

 

1948      

The Loves of Carmen

 

1952      

Affair in Trinidad

 

1953      

Salome

Miss Sadie Thompson

 

1957      

Fire Down Below

Pal Joey

 

1958      

Separate Tables

 

1959      

They Came to Cordura

The Story on Page One

 

1961      

The Happy Thieves

 

1964      

Circus World

 

1965      

The Money Trap

 

1967      

The Rover

 

1968      

The Bastard

 

1970      

Road to Salina

 

1971      

The Naked Zoo

 

1972      

The Wrath of God

Awards

Rita Hayworth was never nominated for an Academy Award.

Old age–that’s when a woman takes vitamins A through G, and still looks like H. ~ Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 17, 1918 as Margarita Carmen Cansino, the oldest child of two dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino, Sr., was from Castilleja de la Cuesta, a little town near Seville, Spain. Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish-English descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies. The couple married in 1917. They also had two sons: Eduardo Cansino, Jr. and Vernon Cansino.

Margarita’s father wanted her to become a professional dancer, while her mother hoped she would become an actress.

She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex, where she was taught by her uncle Angel Cansino. She performed publicly from the age of six. In 1926 at the age of eight, she was featured in La Fiesta, a short film for Warner Bros.

In 1927, her father took the family to Hollywood. He believed that dancing could be featured in the movies and that his family could be part of it. He established his own dance studio, where he taught such stars as James Cagney and Jean Harlow. During the Great Depression, he lost all his investments as commercial interest in his dancing classes waned.

In 1931, Eduardo Cansino partnered with his 12-year-old daughter to form an act called the Dancing Cansinos. Since under California law Margarita was too young to work in nightclubs and bars, her father took her with him to work across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. In the early 1930s, it was a popular tourist spot for people from Los Angeles. Because she was working, Cansino never graduated from high school, but she completed the ninth grade at Hamilton High in Los Angeles.

Cansino (Hayworth) took a bit part in the film Cruz Diablo (1934) at age 16, which led to another bit part in the film In Caliente (1935) with the Mexican actress Dolores del Río. She danced with her father in such nightspots as the Foreign and the Caliente clubs. Winfield Sheehan, the head of the Fox Film Corporation, saw her dancing at the Caliente Club and quickly arranged for Hayworth to do a screen test a week later. Impressed by her screen persona, Sheehan signed her for a short-term, six-month contract at Fox, under the name Rita Cansino, the first of two name changes during her film career.

In late 1934, aged 16, she performed a dance sequence in the Spencer Tracy film Dante’s Inferno (1935), and was put under contract in February 1935. She had her first speaking role as an Argentinian girl in Under the Pampas Moon (1935). She played an Egyptian girl in Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), and a Russian dancer in Paddy O’Day (1935). Sheehan was grooming her for the lead in the 1936 Technicolor film Ramona, hoping to establish her as Fox Film’s new Dolores del Río.

By the end of her six-month contract, Fox had merged into 20th Century Fox, with Darryl F. Zanuck serving as the executive producer. Dismissing Sheehan’s interest in her and giving Loretta Young the lead in Ramona, Zanuck did not renew Cansino’s contract. Sensing her screen potential, salesman and promoter Edward C. Judson, with whom she would elope in 1937,  got freelance work for her in several small-studio films and a part in the Columbia Pictures feature Meet Nero Wolfe (1936). Studio head Harry Cohn signed her to a seven-year contract and tried her out in small roles.

Cohn argued that her image was too Mediterranean, which reduced her opportunities to being cast in “exotic” roles that were fewer in number. He was heard to say her last name sounded too Spanish. Judson acted on Cohn’s advice: Rita Cansino became Rita Hayworth when she adopted her mother’s maiden name, to the consternation of her father. With a name that emphasized her British-American ancestry, people were more likely to regard her as a classic “American”.