Although he seemed to lead a glamorous life, great misfortune and pain were hiding behind the scenes…
They called her the first princess from Hollywood. Rita Hayworth a life story was, seemingly, the closest thing to a real, living Cinderella. In the 1940s, the media profiled her as a provincial who managed to realize the American dream. But that was far from the truth.
Below, I will describe to you the life story of Rita Hayworth!
Born on October 17, 1918, in a family of dancers and entertainers, Rita, real name Margarita Carmen Casino, learned to walk, and then immediately danced. Her grandfather was Antonio Casino, a Spanish dancer who is credited with popularizing bolero in the United States. His father, born in Spain, Eduardo Casino was also a prominent dancer who moved the family to Hollywood so that the stars could teach dance privately. Mother Volga was part of the dance and singing group Ziegfeld Follies.
At the time of the great economic crisis, Eduardo was left without customers, so he decided to use his daughter to make money. When she turned 12, Margarita was her father’s dance partner, and the duo performed under the name “The Dancing Cansinos”.
Margarita, who looked older than she was, was not allowed to perform in American clubs, so she danced with her father in smoky casinos in Tijuana, Mexico. Everyone considered them husband and wife, and Eduard didn’t mind. Margarita despised her father. In addition to beating and forcing her for hours and hours of strenuous dance training, he sexually abused her almost daily. The shocking detail of the author of Rita’s biography, Barbara Leaming, was revealed by her second husband, director and writer, Orson Welles.
“Eduardo raped her in the afternoon and danced with her at night,” Liming wrote.
During one of the performances in Tijuana, Margarita was spotted by the producer of the film studio “Fox”. He invited her to audition, and immediately afterwards offered her a six-month contract. Margarita, then a real Latina girl, with dark hair and eyes, got only minor roles and went unnoticed. Her contract was not extended, and Margarita had to return to life with her father.
She got her chance to escape when, as an 18-year-old, she met businessman Edward Judson, who was 41 at the time. Edward immediately saw an opportunity to make money in Margarita, so he took her to Las Vegas. Naive and young Rita liked Edward, because she thought she sincerely wanted to help her in her career.
The first dance steps in Hollywood
They soon got married, but they were far from a happy married couple. Judson, who took over the role of her manager, allegedly “lent” her to influential businessmen in order to make her a star.
In 1937, Margarita signed a contract with Columbia Pictures. At first, they took her for smaller roles, mostly challenging “exotic” dancers. They soon realized that they could only make her a Hollywood star if they got rid of her “Latino” look. Margarita changed her name to Rita and took her mother’s maiden, British surname. She replaced her dark curls with fiery red hair, and she was glamorously dressed for every occasion. She lost weight and started acting classes, and soon the front pages of the magazine “fell”. The media quickly fell in love with her, because she did not hide from the photographer, unlike other divas at the time.
In 1940, the “new” Rita began appearing in films with sound names such as Kerry Grant and Joan Crawford. She got her first real hit the following year, with a role in the movie “Strawberry Blond,” and then filmed “Blood and Sand” as well. The more successful she became, the more Edward feared she would leave him, so he threatened to pour acid on her and destroy her face.
The most wanted pin-up girl
But Rita realized her husband’s fears and filed for divorce in 1942, citing “cruelty” as the reason. In a divorce lawsuit, she handed over all her earnings to Edward just to get rid of him.
She soon met her second husband, director and writer Orson Welles, who fell in love with the sensual Rita when he saw her photo in a magazine. The couple got married, and Rita gave birth to her first child, daughter Rebecca. She was already one of the most lucrative Hollywood stars at the time, and her dancing talent left greats like Fred Astaire, with whom she starred in two films, without a word. The media called the unusual couple “Beauty and the Brain”.
From 1944 to 1947, Rita was “It Girl”. Her photographs and films were the most popular among American soldiers who fought in World War II. Her popularity at that time was faithfully portrayed by the film “Escape from Shawshank”.
The U.S. military was so fascinated by Rita’s role in the movie “Gilda” that it was her photo that appeared on an atomic bomb dropped on U.S. soil for testing in 1946. Everything seemed ideal, but Orson soon realized that Rita was just “fatal” on the big screen, while in real life she was insecure and possessive.
In the first two years of her marriage, the director cheated on her with several women, including Judy Garland. Wales began to be bothered by her, as he said, explosive nature. In moments of rage, she would smash everything in the house. She never said that she was never angry with him, but with her parents.
Their marriage was failing, and Rita sought happiness in a number of brief affair, including the one with industrialist Howard Hughes, with whom she became pregnant. She decided to travel to Europe and have an abortion there.
In Cannes in 1968, she met Prince Ali Khan, the son of Sultan Mohammed Shah, the leader of the Islamist sect. The prince was known as a great seducer, and the actress immediately “fell” for his charm. The very next year, the couple got married, and their wedding was declared controversial because Rita was still, technically, married to Orson Welles. Due to the “affair”, part of the audience boycotted her films, but the spectacular wedding also marked the creation of “the first Hollywood princess”.
At the end of the year, Rita gave birth to their only child, daughter Princess Jasmine Agu Khan. The actress did not like the lifestyle that Khan led in Europe, and she could not even learn French. During their marriage, Rita was so possessive that she would get panic attacks when Ali went to the hairdresser. However, she was rightly in fear because, it was rumored, the prince cheated on her on all sides, with her colleagues, such as Joan Fontaine.
Rita decided to return to the United States with her daughters in 1951, and two years later, her marriage to Aly officially came to an end. The collapse of her marriage hit her hard, so even though she returned to the movies, she started drinking more than ever. That is when her long-term quarrel with the head of her film studio culminated, because she refused roles and threatened lawsuits. Her acquaintances noticed that she started behaving self-destructively.
Her last two marriages were “spiced” with fierce quarrels and physical clashes in public. Singer Dick Hymes met Rita when his career was failing and he was in debt. Hymes was known in insider circles as “Mr. Evil.”
The singer allegedly physically abused Rita, and on one occasion he slapped her in a popular club in Los Angeles, which was also the end of their two-year marriage. Hayworth, on the doctor’s orders, spent the next few days in bed to recover. At the time, 37-year-old Rita looked much older, and she hid her wrinkles from a ton of make-up from a lot of stress and alcohol.
Her last husband, producer James Hill, was Rita’s “last nail in the coffin”. Although they were only married for three years, Hill mentally abused and threatened Rita, opposing her desire to stop acting in Hollywood movies. Hill treated Rita like a slave, as evidenced by Charles Houston, who met the couple at dinner.
“He shouted at her until she cried and started shaking,” the actor recounted, adding that he would never forgive himself, because he didn’t help her then.
Death from “mysterious disease”
The famous actress died in 1987 at the age of 69 from complications caused by Alzheimer’s disease, which she was diagnosed with seven years earlier. Her daughter Yasmin Aga Khan, who cared for Rita for the last years of her life, believes that her mother started getting symptoms much earlier, but not much was known about Alzheimer’s at the time.
If she forgot her dialogues, her colleagues and the film crew would think she had overdosed on alcohol, but in reality, those were the beginnings of her illness.
Rita became the first public figure known to have suffered from Alzheimer’s.
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