Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987) was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame during the 1940s not only as one of the era's top stars, but also as the era's greatest sex symbol, most notably in Gilda (1946). She appeared in 61 films over 37 years and is listed as one of the American Film Institute's Greatest Stars of All Time.
Early life and career
Born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York City, she was the daughter of flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino, Sr., who was himself a Spaniard from Seville, and Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth who was of Irish and English descent. She was raised as a Roman Catholic. Her father wanted her to become a dancer while her mother hoped she'd become an actress. Her grandfather, Antonio Cansino, was the most renowned exponent in his day of Spain's classical dances; he made the bolero famous. His dancing school in Madrid was world famous. He gave Hayworth her first instruction in dancing.
"I didn't like it very much," revealed Hayworth, "but I didn't have the courage to tell my father, so I began taking the lessons. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, that was my girlhood."
"From the time I was three and a half," Hayworth said, ". . . as soon as I could stand on my own feet, I was given dance lessons." She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex under the instruction of her uncle Angel Cansino.
By the age of eight, Cansino and his family had moved west to Hollywood, where he established his own dance studio. Famous Hollywood luminaries received specialized training from Cansino himself, including James Cagney and Jean Harlow. Hayworth was also among the number of students attending the school, extending her dancing abilities.
Rita Hayworth's rise to fame was a silver lining of the Great Depression. The family's investments were wiped out instantly. Musicals were no longer in vogue. Interest in her father's work collapsed as dancing classes weren foremost on anybody's mind during difficult economic times. But when his nephew's dancing partner in a theater play broke a leg, her mother suggested she could replace him: "Margarita can do it!"
Her mother's idea led to her father having an epiphany. He saw his daughter could be his partner in a dancing team called "The Dancing Cansinos". Since Hayworth was not of legal age to work in nightclubs and bars according to California state law, she and her father traveled across the border to the city of Tijuana in Mexico, a popular tourist spot for Los Angeles citizens in the early 1930s. Hayworth performed in such spots as the Foreign Club and the Caliente Club.
It was at the Caliente Club where Hayworth was first discovered by the head of the Fox Film Corporation, Winfield Sheehan. A week later, Hayworth was brought to Hollywood to make a screen test for Fox. Impressed by her screen persona, Sheehan signed Hayworth (who was now being referred to as Rita Cansino) to a short-term six-month contract.
During her time at Fox, Hayworth appeared in five pictures, in which her roles were neither important nor memorable. By the end of her six-month contract, Fox had now merged into Twentieth Century-Fox and Darryl F. Zanuck was now credited as the executive producer. Taking little concern for Sheehan's interest in her, Zanuck decided not to renew her contract.
By this time, Hayworth was eighteen years old and she married businessman Edward C. Judson, who was twice her age. Feeling that Hayworth still had screen potential, despite just being dropped by Fox, Judson managed to get her the lead roles in several independent films and finally managed to arrange a screen test for her with Columbia Pictures. Cohn soon signed her to a long-term contract and he slowly cast Hayworth in small roles in Columbia features.
Cohn argued that Hayworth's image was too much of a Latin style, which caused Hayworth to be cast into stereotypical Hispanic roles. She began to undergo a painful electrolysis to broaden her forehead and accentuate her widow's peak. When Hayworth returned to Columbia, she was a redhead and had changed her name to Rita Hayworth (Hayworth from her mother's maiden name).
Becoming a major star
Rita Hayworth had an awkward transition from teen nightclub dancer to major movie star. She was a dancer first and foremost; acting was an afterthought seen as a way to earn a living.
Gossip columnist Louella Parsons did not think Hayworth would be successful. She met Hayworth just when she was starting out, and saw her as a "painfully shy” girl who “couldn’t look strangers in the eye” and whose voice was so low it could hardly be heard.
In 1935, when Rita was 17 she was dropped from the movie Ramona and replaced by Loretta Young. "It was the worst disappointment of my life," Hayworth said. A few days later, the studio dropped her. She was devastated but did not give up.
In 1937, she appeared in five minor Columbia pictures and three minor independent movies.
In 1938, Hayworth appeared in five more Columbia B films.
In 1939, Cohn pressured director Howard Hawks to use Rita for a small but important role as a man-trap in the aviation drama, Only Angels Have Wings, in which she played opposite Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. A large box-office success, fan mail for Hayworth began pouring into Columbia's publicity department and Cohn began to see Hayworth as his first and official new star (the studio had never officially had large stars under contract, except for Jean Arthur, who was trying to break out of her Columbia contract).
Cohn began to build Rita up the following year, in features such as Music in My Heart, The Lady in Question, and Angels Over Broadway. He even loaned Hayworth out to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in Susan and God, opposite Joan Crawford.
On loan to Warner Brothers, Hayworth appeared as the second female lead in The Strawberry Blonde (1941), opposite James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland. A large box-office success, Hayworth's popularity rose and she immediately became one of Hollywood's hottest properties. So impressed was Warner Brothers that they tried to buy Hayworth's contract from Columbia, but Harry Cohn refused to release her.
Her success in that film led to an even more important supporting role in Blood and Sand (1941), opposite Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell, ironically by Fox, the studio that had dropped her six years before. In one of her most notable screen roles, Hayworth played the first of many screen sirens as the temptress Dona Sol des Muire. Another box-office smash, Hayworth received the highest of praises from critics.
Hayworth returned in triumph to Columbia Pictures and was cast in the musical, You'll Never Get Rich (1941), opposite Fred Astaire in one of the highest-budgeted films Columbia had ever made. So successful was the picture that the following year, another Astaire-Hayworth picture was released You Were Never Lovelier. In 1942, Hayworth also appeared in two other pictures, Tales of Manhattan and My Gal Sal.
It was during this period that Hayworth posed for a famous pin-up in Life Magazine, which showed her in a negligee perched seductively over her bed. When the U.S. joined World War II in December of 1941, Hayworth's image was admired by millions of servicemen, making her one of the top two pin-up girls of the war years, the other being creamy blonde Betty Grable. In 2002, the satin nightgown she wore for the picture sold for $26,888.
Rita Hayworth was called the "Love Goddess." (One biopic and one biography used the moniker in reference to her.) Despite being a sex symbol, due to her Spanish heritage of female decency she showed discretion. "Everybody else does nude scenes," Hayworth said, "but I don't. I never made nude movies. I didn't have to do that. I danced. I was provocative, I guess, in some things. But I was not completely exposed."
The peak years at Columbia
By 1944, Rita Hayworth had reached the peak of her fame. That year, she made one of her best-known films, the Technicolor musical Cover Girl (1944), with Gene Kelly. The film established her as Columbia's top star of the 1940s . Although her singing voice was dubbed in her films, Hayworth's exuberant and powerful dancing set her apart from the other top musical stars of the day, as she was equally adept in ballet, tap, ballroom, and Spanish routines. Cohn continued to effectively showcase Hayworth's talents in Technicolor films: Tonight and Every Night (1945), with Lee Bowman, and Down to Earth (1947), with Larry Parks.
Her erotic appeal was most notable in Charles Vidor's black-and-white film noir Gilda (1946), with Glenn Ford, which encountered some difficulty with censors. This role — in which Hayworth in black satin performed a legendary one-glove striptease — made her into a cultural icon as the ultimate femme fatale. Alluding to her bombshell status, in 1946 her likeness was placed on the first nuclear bomb to be tested after World War II (at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands) as part of Operation Crossroads.
Hayworth performed one of her best-remembered dance routines, the samba from Tonight and Every Night (1945), while pregnant with her first child, Rebecca Welles (daughter with Orson Welles). Hayworth was also the first dancer to partner with both Astaire and Kelly on film — the others being Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Vera-Ellen, and Leslie Caron.
Hayworth gave one of her most acclaimed performances in Welles's The Lady from Shanghai (1948). Its failure at the box office was attributed in part to director/co-star Welles having had Hayworth's famous red locks cut off and the remainder of her hair dyed blonde for her role. This was done without Cohn's knowledge or approval and he was furious over the change. Her next film, The Loves of Carmen (1948), again with Glenn Ford, was the first film co-produced by Columbia and Hayworth's own production company, The Beckworth Corporation (named for her daughter Rebecca); it was Columbia's biggest moneymaker for that year. She received a percentage of the profits from this and all her subsequent films until 1955 when she dissolved Beckworth to pay off debts she owed to Columbia.
Struggles with Columbia
Hayworth had a strained relationship with Columbia Pictures for many years. In 1943, she was suspended without pay for nine weeks because she refused to appear in My Client Curley. (During this period in Hollywood actors did not get to choose their films as they do today; they also had salaries instead of a fixed amount per picture.) In 1945, Hayworth received notice of her suspension by her employers, Columbia Pictures, "on the day she entered the maternity hospital in Hollywood."
In 1947, Rita Hayworth's new contract with Columbia provided a salary of US$250,000 plus 50% of film profits. In 1951 Columbia alleged it had $800,000 invested in properties for her, including the film she walked out on when she left Hollywood and married Aly Khan. She was suspended again for failing to report for work, this time for Affair in Trinidad. In 1952 she refused to report for work because "she objected to the script." In 1955, she sued to get out of a contract with the studio, asking for her $150,000 salary, alleging filming failed to start work when agreed.
"I was in Switzerland when they sent me the script for Affair in Trinidad and I threw it across the room. But I did the picture, and Pal Joey too. I came back to Columbia because I wanted to work and first, see, I had to finish that goddamn contract, which is how Harry Cohn owned me!"
"Harry Cohn thought of me as one of the people he could exploit," alleged Hayworth, "and make a lot of money. And I did make a lot of money for him, but not much for me."
Hayworth was still upset with Columbia and its head Harry Cohn many years after her film career had ended and he was dead. "I used to have to punch a time clock at Columbia," lamented Hayworth. "Every day of my life. That's what it was like. I was under exclusive contract -- like they owned me... He felt that he owned me... I think he had my dressing room bugged... He was very possessive of me as a person -- he didn't want me to go out with anybody, have any friends. No one can live that way. So I fought him ... You want to know what I think of Harry Cohn? He was a monster."
Another source of "gnawing resentment" for Hayworth was her studio's failure to train her to sing or even encourage her to learn how to sing. She was dubbed. The public didn't know this closely guarded secret, and she ended up embarrassed because she was constantly asked by the troops to sing.
"I wanted to study singing," Hayworth complained, "but Harry Cohn kept saying, 'Who needs it?' and the studio wouldn't pay for it. They had me so intimidated that I couldn't have done it anyway. They always said, 'Oh, no, we can't let you do it. There's no time for that; it has to be done right now!' I was under contract, and that was it."
Although Cohn had a reputation as a hard taskmaster, he also had legitimate criticisms of Hayworth. He had invested heavily in her before she began a reckless affair with a married man (Aly Khan) even though it could have caused a backlash against her career and Columbia's success. Indeed a British newspaper called for a boycott of Hayworth's films. "Hollywood must be told," said The People, "its already tarnished reputation will sink to rock bottom if it restores this reckless woman to a place among its stars."
Cohn himself expressed his frustration with Hayworth's relationships in an interview with Time magazine. "Hayworth might be worth ten million dollars today easily! She owned 25% of the profits with her own company and had hit after hit and she had to get married and had to get out of the business and took a suspension because she fell in love again! In five years, at two pictures a year, at 25%! Think of what she could have made! But she didn't make pictures! She took two or three suspensions! She got mixed up with different characters! Unpredictable!"
After her marriage to Aly Khan collapsed in 1951, Hayworth returned to America with great fanfare to star in a string of hit films: Affair in Trinidad (1952) with favorite co-star Glenn Ford, Salome (1953) with Charles Laughton and Stewart Granger, and Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) with José Ferrer and Aldo Ray, for which her performance won critical acclaim. Then she was off the big screen for another four years, due mainly to a tumultuous marriage to singer Dick Haymes.
After making Fire Down Below (1957) with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, and her last musical Pal Joey (1957) with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, Hayworth finally left Columbia. She received good reviews for her acting in such films as Separate Tables (1958) with Burt Lancaster and David Niven, and The Story on Page One (1960) with Anthony Franciosa, and continued working throughout the 1960s. In 1962, her planned Broadway debut in Step on a Crack was cancelled for health reasons.
She continued to act in films until the early 1970s and made a well-publicized 1971 television appearance on The Carol Burnett Show.
Her last film was The Wrath of God (1972).
Rita Hayworth was a top glamour girl in the 1940s. She was a pin-up girl for military servicemen and a beauty icon for women. At 5'6" (168 cm) and 120-lb (55 kgs) she was tall for women of her time and her height was a concern to her movie star dancing partners like Fred Astaire.
Hayworth got her big motion picture break because she was willing to change her hair color whereas another actress was unwilling. She changed her hair color eight times in eight movies.
Although she was never a fashion icon like Jackie Kennedy, Hayworth had a unique beauty style. From the time she became a celebrity until she died she had natural long nails. "I take care of my nails myself," she said. "I find my cuticle never tears and my nails don't break if I rub cream into them every night." She was once the cover girl of "Nails magazine." In 1940 she started a manicure trend. Hers were longer than previously worn, more oval than pointed, and fully covered with red polish. (Previously there was no polish covering the moon of the nail or the tip.)
In 1949 Hayworth's lips were voted best in the world by the Artists League of America. She had a modeling contract with Max Factor to promote its Tru-Color lipsticks and Pan-Stik make-up.
Barbara Leaming writes in her biography of Hayworth 'If This Was Happiness,' that due to her fondness for alcohol and stressful lifestyle, Hayworth aged before her time. Re-appearing in New York to begin work on her first film in three years in 1956 "despite the artfully applied make-up and shoulder-length red hair, there was no concealing the ravages of drink and stress. Deep lines had crept around her eyes and mouth, and she appeared worn, exhausted — older than her thirty-eight years." Leaming goes on to report that on the filming of Fire Down Below she overheard a remark apparently unintended for her ears that she should hurry up as 'no amount of time was going to make her look any younger.' Additionally, while in San Francisco the following year filming My Pal Joey she was signing autographs when one fan blurted out 'She looks so old.' In the first case Hayworth is reported to have cried and in the second, although she blanked it at the time, it was clear that her premature ageing was a sensitive subject to her. It was also one which meant she had to be carefully lit in films for the rest of her career.
Naturally shy and reclusive, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she played. "I naturally am very shy," she said, "and I suffer from an inferiority complex." She once complained, "Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me." With typical modesty she later remarked that the only films she could watch without laughing were the dance musicals she made with Fred Astaire. "I guess the only jewels of my life," Hayworth said, "were the pictures I made with Fred Astaire."
She was close to her frequent co-star and next-door neighbor Glenn Ford. In an interview published in the New York Times, Hayworth denied she was involved with Ford.
Hayworth had two younger brothers: Vernon Cansino and Eduardo Cansino, Jr. They were both soldiers in World War II. Vernon left the United States Army in 1946 with several medals, including the Purple Heart. He married Susan Vail, a dancer. Eduardo Cansino Jr. followed Hayworth into acting; he was also under contract with Columbia Pictures. In 1950 he made his screen debut in Magic Carpet.
Elisa Cansino, her aunt, ran a dancing school in San Francisco. Her nephew Richard Cansino, is a voice actor in anime and video games; he has done most of his work under the name "Richard Hayworth."
Barbara Leaming claims in her book, If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth (1989), that as a child and teenager, Hayworth was a victim of physical and sexual abuse by her father. Leaming also claims that through her life, Hayworth was never without a boyfriend for long with her choice of partners becoming increasingly poor.
Hayworth had five marriages, which all ended in divorce, with each one lasting five years or less:
1) Edward Charles Judson (1937–1942);
2) Orson Welles (1943–1948, one daughter: Rebecca Welles);
3) Prince Aly Khan (1949–1953, one daughter: Princess Yasmin Aga Khan);
4) Dick Haymes (1953–1955); and,
5) James Hill (1958–1961).
"Basically, I am a good, gentle person," Hayworth once said, "but I am attracted to mean personalities."
1) Edward Charles Judson
Hayworth was only 18 when, in 1937, she married Edward Judson, a domineering man more than twice her age. They eloped in Las Vegas. He was an oilman turned promoter who had played a major role in launching her acting career. He was a shrewd businessman and became her manager for months before he proposed. "He helped me with my career," Hayworth conceded after they divorced, "and helped himself to my money." She alleged Judson compelled her to transfer considerable property to him and promise to pay him $12,000 under threats that he would do her "great bodily harm." She filed for divorce from him on February 24, 1942 with the complaint of cruelty. She also noted to the press that his work took him to Oklahoma and Texas while she lived and worked in Hollywood. Judson was as old as her father, who was enraged by the marriage, which caused a rift between Hayworth and her parents until the divorce. Judson neglected to inform Hayworth before they married that he had previously been married twice. When she finally walked out on him, she literally had no money. She asked her friend, Hermes Pan, if she could eat at his home, because she didn't have any money to buy food.
2) Orson Welles
Rita Hayworth then rushed into a marriage with Orson Welles on September 7, 1943. None of her colleagues even knew about the planned marriage (before a judge) until she announced it the day before they got married. For the civil ceremony she wore a beige suit, ruffled white blouse, and a veil. A few hours after they got married, they returned to work at the studio. They had a daughter, Rebecca. After marital struggles, and a final attempt at reconciliation, Hayworth said he told her he didn't want to be tied down by marriage.
"During the entire period of our marriage," she declared, "he showed no interest in establishing a home. When I suggested purchasing a home, he told me he didn't want the responsibility. Mr. Welles told me he never should have married in the first place; that it interfered with his freedom in his way of life."
3) Prince Aly Khan
In 1948 she left her film career to marry Prince Aly Khan, a son of Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. They were married on May 27, 1949. Her bridal trousseau was Dior's New Look — after seeing her wearing it, every woman began to wear the somewhat-controversial longer hemline. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, in writing and directing The Barefoot Contessa (1954), was said to have based his title character, Maria Vargas (played on film by Ava Gardner), on Hayworth's life and her marriage to Aly Khan.
Aly Khan and his family were heavily involved in horse racing, so although Hayworth did not like horses or thoroughbred horse racing, she became a member of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Hayworth's filly Double Rose won several races in France and notably finished second in the 1949 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
In 1951, while still married to her, he was spotted dancing with Joan Fontaine in the nightclub where they met. She responded by issuing him an ultimatum and threatening to divorce him in Reno, Nevada. In early May she moved to Nevada to establish legal residence to qualify for a divorce. She holed up in Lake Tahoe with her daughter despite a threat to kidnap her child. When she filed to divorce Khan on September 2, 1951, she did so on the grounds of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in nature."
Hayworth once said she might become a Muslim like her husband. During the custody fight over their daughter Yasmin, Prince Khan said he wanted her raised as a Muslim; whereas Hayworth said she intended to raise her in the Christian faith. In fact, Hayworth turned down a $1,000,000 offer if she'd raise Yasmin as a Muslim from age seven and allow her to go to Europe for two or three months each year.
"Nothing will make me give up Yasmin's chance to live here in America among our precious freedoms and habits," declared Hayworth. "While I respect the Muslim faith and all other faiths it is my earnest wish that my daughter be raised as a normal, healthy American girl in the Christian faith. There isn't any amount of money in the entire world for which it is worth sacrificing this child's privilege of living as a normal Christian girl here in the United States. There just isn't anything else in the world that can compare with her sacred chance to do that. And I'm going to give it to Yasmin regardless of what it costs."
The Hayworth-Khan custody battle for little Yasmin was one of the most public custody battles in the history of Hollywood. Hayworth feared that Princess Yasmin would be kidnapped by her father, taken to his foreign country, and she'd never see her daughter again. She didn't trust him. It was a very long and protracted legal process that played out publicly in the news. It included Hayworth and her lawyers doing extreme negotiations, Hayworth dragging her heels about agreeing to let Khan have temporary custody of Yasmin, requiring "insurance" money to discourage him from keeping her, then Hayworth changing her mind at the last minute, etc., and her fourth husband interfering with the entire process.
4) Dick Haymes
Orson Welles is quoted as saying that "After Aly, Rita was on a downward path, a steep tobogan slide." And so it proved to be with Hayworth plunged into doubt of both herself and intimate relationships. After a publicly damaging fling with Count Jose-Maria Vallapadierna, Barbara Leaming speculates that her next choice of husband was borne out of a crisis of self-esteem and seeming confirmation in her own mind after the failures in her personal life, of her own unworthiness as a person. And so it was that Hayworth threw herself into a relationship and marriage with deeply troubled singer and film actor Dick Haymes which would bring her to her lowest ebb.
When they first met, he was still married and his singing career was waning, but when the Love Goddess showed up at the clubs, he got a larger audience. (Without her hardly anyone paid attention.) Haymes was desperate for money; he was a deadbeat dad and two of his former wives were after him for alimony. In fact his financial problems were so bad he could not even return to California without being arrested. On July 7, 1954, his ex-wife Nora Haymes got a bench warrant for his arrest, because he owed her $3,800 in alimony. Less than a week prior, his other ex-wife, Joanne Dru, also got a bench warrant because she said he owed $4,800 in support payments for their three children. It was Hayworth who ended up paying most of Haymes's debts.
Haymes was born in Argentina, and didn't have solid proof of American citizenship. The authorities initiated proceedings to have him deported back to Argentina for being an illegal alien not long after he met Hayworth. He hoped, however, she could influence the Government and keep him in the United States. Haymes manipulated the situation, exploiting Hayworth for publicity at every opportunity and getting her to throw herself publicly behind his case. When she assumed responsibility for his citizenship, a bond was formed that led to marriage. The two were married on 24 September 1953 at the Sands Hotel, their wedding procession marching through the casino itself.
From the start, their wedding was in trouble with Haymes deeply indebted to the Inland Revenue. When Rita took time off from attending his comeback performances in Philadelphia, crowd numbers plummeted and when Haymes's $5000 weekly salary was attached by the IRS to pay a $100,000 bill he was unable to even pay his pianist. Meanwhile ex-wives continued to hound Haymes for money while Hayworth publicly bemoaned the lack of alimony she was receiving from Aly Khan. At one point, the couple were effectively imprisoned in a hotel room for 24 hours in New York at the Hotel Madison as sheriff's deputies waited outside threatening to arrest the hysterical Haymes for outstanding debts. All of this happened against a backdrop of death threats to Hayworth's children and an ongoing custody battle she was fighting with Khan. During this time, while she was living in a hotel in New York, Hayworth sent the children to live with their nanny in deprived area of Westchester. There they were found and photographed by a reporter from Confidential. That the photographer had been able to access them easily at the time of death-threats to them was one thing, the article also depicted them "in a trash littered backyard, playing among an assortment of loaded ash cans." The article caused a national scandal, highly damaging to Hayworth, bringing charges of neglect and bad parenting against her.
Hayworth and Haymes's world descended further into a maze of litigation, injunction and Haymes's verbal and physical violence. After a tumultuous two years together Haymes overstepped the mark when in 1955 he struck her in the face in public at the Cocoanut Grove night club in Los Angeles. It was the final straw in their relationship. Hayworth packed her bags, walked out, and never returned.
The extreme event leading to Hayworth's separation shook her so badly she had a "severe emotional shock," according to her doctor, who ordered her to remain in bed for several days. Hayworth also found herself very short of money after her marriage to Haymes and having pursued Aly Khan for child support money throughout her marriage to Haymes, she now sued Orson Welles for back payment of child support she claimed had never been paid. As well as being ultimately unsuccessful, this only added to her stressed condition and on the set of Fire Down Below she was seen tearing up her bundle of mail and scattering the scraps in the sea. On being told one of these letters may have contained money she remarked "more trouble than money."
5) James Hill
After Haymes, Hayworth began another relationship with a man keen to exploit her for his own gain, Raymond Hakim, who embarked on an ill-fated attempt to take her to Europe to star in a film based on the life of Isadora Duncan; then film producer James Hill who she went on to marry. By his own account, Hill started with the best intentions but would up 'as anxious to use her as all the rest.' On February 2, 1958, Hayworth married Hill, who put her in one of her last major films, Separate Tables. On September 1, 1961, Hayworth filed for divorce from Hill, alleging extreme mental cruelty. He later wrote the book Rita Hayworth: A Memoir in which he suggested their marriage collapsed because he wanted Hayworth to continue making movies while she wanted both of them to retire from the Hollywood scene.
Charlton Heston, in his book, In the Arena, sheds some light on Hayworth's brief marriage to Hill. Heston had never met her when he and his wife Lydia joined Hayworth and Hill for dinner in a restaurant in Spain with director George Marshall and Rex Harrison, Hayworth's co-star in The Happy Thieves. Heston, who was in Spain making El Cid, writes on page 253 of his memoir (HarperCollins paperback version) that ‘it turned into the single most embarrassing evening of my life,’ describing how Hill heaped ‘obscene abuse’ on Hayworth until she was ‘reduced to a helpless flood of tears, her face buried in her hands.’ Heston writes how they all sat stunned, witnesses to a ‘marital massacre’ and though he was ‘strongly tempted to slug him (Hill)’ he instead simply took his wife Lydia home when she stood up, almost in tears herself. Heston ends by writing, ‘I’m ashamed of walking away from Miss Hayworth’s humiliation. I never saw her again.’
She never married again.
Hayworth struggled with alcohol throughout her life. "I remember as a child," said her daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, "that she had a drinking problem. She had difficulty coping with the ups and downs of the business. . . . As a child, I thought, 'She has a drinking problem and she's an alcoholic.' That was very clear and I thought, 'Well, there's not much I can do. I can just, sort of, stand by and watch.' It's very difficult, seeing your mother, going through her emotional problems and drinking and then behaving in that manner. . . . Her condition became quite bad. It worsened and she did have an alcoholic breakdown and landed in the hospital."
In 1972, aged 54, Hayworth no longer wanted to act, but she signed up for The Wrath of God because she had money problems. The experience, however, exposed her bad health and worsening mental state. She couldn't remember her lines, so they had to film her scenes one line at a time. Extreme memory loss left her very nervous and resistant to doing at least one scene, which was then done by a double.
Even so, the following year Hayworth agreed to do one more movie, Tales That Witness Madness (1973). Her health was even worse by that time, so she abandoned the movie set, and returned to America. She never returned to acting.
In March 1974, both her brothers died within a week of each other, saddening her greatly, and causing her to drink even more heavily than before.
In 1976 at London's Heathrow Airport, Hayworth was removed from a TWA flight during which she had an angry outburst while traveling with her agent. "Miss Hayworth had been drinking when she boarded the plane," revealed a TWA flight attendant, "and had several free drinks during the flight." The event attracted much negative publicity; a disturbing photograph was published in newspapers showing her looking very disheveled, sad, lost, ill, and barely recognizable.
Rita Hayworth's drinking problem confused her family, friends, colleagues—and even doctors—who were unable to immediately recognize Alzheimer's disease. "For several years in the 1970s, she had been misdiagnosed as an alcoholic."
"It was the outbursts," said her daughter, "She'd fly into a rage. I can't tell you. I thought it was alcoholism-alcoholic dementia. We all thought that. The papers picked that up, of course. You can't imagine the relief just in getting a diagnosis. We had a name at last, Alzheimer's! Of course, that didn't really come until the last seven or eight years. She wasn't diagnosed as having Alzheimer's until 1980. There were two decades of hell before that."
In July 1981, Hayworth's health had worsened to the point where a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that because she was suffering from senile dementia, and no longer able to care for herself, she should be placed under the care of her daughter, Princess Yasmin Khan of New York City.
She then lived in an apartment at The San Remo on Central Park West next to her daughter, who looked after her during her final years until she died.
Rita Hayworth lapsed into a semicoma in February 1987. She died a few months later on May 14 at age 68 of Alzheimer's disease in her Manhattan apartment.
A funeral service for Hayworth was held at 10:00 a.m. on May 19, 1987 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills, California. Pallbearers included actors Ricardo Montalban, Glenn Ford, Don Ameche and choreographer Hermes Pan.
She was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Her headstone includes the inscription: "To yesterday's companionship and tomorrow's reunion."
"Rita Hayworth was one of our country's most beloved stars," said President Ronald Reagan, who himself had been an actor at the same time as Hayworth, and coincidentally later also had Alzheimer's disease. "Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments on stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. In her later years, Rita became known for her struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Her courage and candor, and that of her family, were a great public service in bringing worldwide attention to a disease which we all hope will soon be cured. Nancy and I are saddened by Rita's death. She was a friend who we will miss. We extend our deep sympathy to her family."
Hayworth receives National Screen Heritage Award in 1977.Hayworth appeared with John Wayne in Circus World (1964) (U.K. title: Magnificent Showman), for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama, her only notable-award nod.
In 1977, Hayworth was the recipient of the National Screen Heritage Award.
Despite appearing in 61 films over 37 years, including leading roles in successful, classic films like Gilda, she never received an Academy Award nomination. Nevertheless, Rita Hayworth is listed as one of the American Film Institute's Greatest Stars of All Time.
One of the major fund raisers for the Alzheimer's Association is the annual Rita Hayworth Galas, held in New York City and Chicago, Illinois. Hayworth's daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, has been the hostess for these events. Since 1985 they have raised more than US$42 million for the Association. The film I Remember Better When I Paint features a stirring interview with Hayworth's daughter describing how her mother took up painting while struggling with Alzheimer's and produced beautiful works of art. 
White Stripes Album
In 2005, the White Stripes released the song, "Take, Take, Take," on their album Get Behind Me Satan, which includes lyrics about a man meeting Hayworth in a bar and nagging her for an autograph and a photo. Hayworth's name appears on the same album during the song "White Moon." Jack White named an acoustic guitar after her — with a picture of her face on the backside. Her portrait on Jack White's guitar can be seen in the White Stripes' music video for the song "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)" and during a scene from the band's recently released documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights.
Michael Jackson's This Is It
In 2009 whilst Michael Jackson was preparing for his This Is It tour he used a scene featuring Hayworth in the movie Gilda for the backdrop video for Smooth Criminal which also incorporated Michael into the video using green screen as well as making it seem like he was being chased by Humphrey Bogart. This can now be seen in full on the This Is It DVD.
As Rita Cansino
Anna Case in La Fiesta (Short subject, 1926, Unconfirmed)
Cruz Diablo aka The Devil's Cross (Uncredited, 1934)
In Caliente (1935) (scenes deleted)
Under the Pampas Moon (1935)
Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935)
Dante's Inferno (1935)
Paddy O'Day (1935)
Human Cargo (1936)
Meet Nero Wolfe (1936)
The Dancing Pirate (1936)
Old Louisiana (1937)
Hit the Saddle (1937)
Trouble in Texas (1937)
As Rita Hayworth
Criminals of the Air (1937)
Girls Can Play (1937)
The Game That Kills (1937)
Paid to Dance (1937)
The Shadow (1937)
Who Killed Gail Preston? (1938)
Special Inspector (1938)
There's Always a Woman (1938)
Juvenile Court (1938)
The Renegade Ranger (1938)
Homicide Bureau (1939)
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Music in My Heart (1940)
Blondie on a Budget (1940)
Susan and God (1940)
The Lady in Question (1940)
Angels Over Broadway (1940)
The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
Affectionately Yours (1941)
Blood and Sand (1941)
You'll Never Get Rich (1941)
My Gal Sal (1942)
Tales of Manhattan (1942)
You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
Show Business at War (1943) (short subject)
Cover Girl (1944)
Tonight and Every Night (1945)
Down to Earth (1947)
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
The Loves of Carmen (1948)
Champagne Safari (1952)
Affair in Trinidad (1952)
Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)
Fire Down Below (1957)
Pal Joey (1957)
Separate Tables (1958)
They Came to Cordura (1959)
The Story on Page One (1959)
The Happy Thieves (1962)
Circus World (1964)
The Money Trap (1965)
The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966)
I Bastardi (1968)
The Naked Zoo (1971)
Road to Salina (1971)
The Wrath of God (1972)
This Is It - Stock footage (2009)
1.^ Gerald Faris, "A Screen Goddess and Hollywood Rebel Loses The Battle Against Disease," The Age, May 18, 1987.
2.^ "Princess Born to Rita After Pre-dawn Dash to Clinic," AP, Dec. 28, 1949.
3.^ "Rita Hayworth Delights Papa and Mama Cansino." Ellensburg Daily Record, July 13, 1944.
4.^ "Actress Rita Hayworth's Grandfather Dies at 89." Los Angeles Times. June 22, 1954.
5.^ Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein, "Rita: The Life of Rita Hayworth," New York: Dell, 1983, 16.
6.^ "LOT 37 RITA HAYWORTH NIGHTGOWN FROM HER FAMOUS WORLD WAR II PUBLICITY PHOTOS."
7.^ Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein, "Rita: The Life of Rita Hayworth," New York: Dell, 1983, 234.
8.^ "Screen News Here and in Hollywood," New York Times, Mar. 22, 1943.
9.^ Leonard Lyons, "The Lyons Den," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 23, 1945.
10.^ Hedda Hopper, "Looking at Hollywood," AP, Oct. 22, 1947.
11.^ "Hayworth, Studio Agree Once Again," New York Times, Jan. 9, 1952.
12.^ "Rita Hayworth Files Suit to End Film Contract, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 9, 1955.
13.^ John Hallowell, "Rita Hayworth: Don't Put the Blame on Me, Boys," New York Times, Oct. 25, 1970.
14.^ Nancy Anderson, "Rita Hayworth Still Ranks as Beauty," Copley News Service, Feb. 11, 1972.
15.^ John Hallowell, "Rita: Hollywood Still Is Her Town But No One Knows She's There," St. Petersburg Times, June 23, 1968.
16.^ John Kobal Rita Hayworth: Portrait of a Love Goddess, 1977, p.103
17.^ John Kobal Rita Hayworth: Portrait of a Love Goddess, 1977, p.124
18.^ John Kobal Rita Hayworth: Portrait of a Love Goddess, 1977, p.104
19.^ "Call For Boycott Of Rita Hayworth," AAP, Apr. 30, 1951
20.^ Quoted in John Kobal Rita Hayworth: Portrait of a Love Goddess, 1977, p.163
21.^ "Rita Hayworth Replaced in Play," AP, Aug. 24, 1962.
22.^ Jerry Mason. "Meet Rita Hayworth." The Spokesman-Review. January 3, 1942.
23.^ John Chapman, "Red Heads," Chicago Daily Tribune, May 25, 1941.
24.^ Lydia Lane, "Rita Hayworth Cites Care of Hands, Feet, Hair as Important to Beauty," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 19, 1952.
25.^ "Presenting: Ten Most Perfect Features in the World," AP, Feb 17, 1949. Accessed June 13, 2009.
26.^ Louella O. Parsons, "Rita, Shy Off Set, Now Groomed for Vamp Role," St. Petersburg Times, May 25, 1941.
27.^ John Hallowell. "Rita Hayworth, "Don't Put the Blame on Me, Boys," New York Times, Oct. 25, 1970
28.^ "Chatter," People, July 15, 1974.
29.^ "Rita Hayworth Tells of Threats by Ex-Mate," Los Angeles Times, July 3, 1943, A16
30.^ John Kobal, Rita Hayworth, Berkley: 1983, p. 62.
31.^ "Rita Hayworth Wins Divorce From Orson Welles," AP, Nov. 10, 1947.
32.^ Staff writer, "Love's Long Shot", Time October 17, 1949. Accessed May 29, 2009.
33.^ "Rita Hayworth Files Divorce Action in Reno," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 2, 1951.
34.^ "Prince Wants Yasmin Back," AP, Oct. 31, 1953.
35.^ "Rita Says No to Million," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 13, 1953.
36.^ "Dick Haymes Faces Arrest Over Alimony," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 5, 1956
37.^ "Haymes Hears Sour Music," AP, July 7, 1954.
38.^ "Marriage Falls Down and So Does Rita," UP, Aug. 30, 1955.
39.^ Pia Lindstrom, "Alzheimer's Fight in Her Mother's Name," New York Times, Feb. 23, 1997
40.^ Stephanie Thames, "The Wrath of God," TCM.com.
41.^ "Actress Helped from Jet," St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 21, 1976.
42.^ " 'Love Goddess' Rita Hayworth is Dead at 68," AP, May 16, 1987.
43.^ Paul Hendrickson, "Alzheimer's: A Daughter's Nightmare," Los Angeles Times, Apr. 11, 1989.
44.^ "Rita Hayworth Placed in Conservatorship," AP, Jul 23, 1981.
45.^ Krebs, Albin. "Rita Hayworth, Movie Legend, Dies," obituary, The New York Times, May 16, 1987.
46.^ "Rita Hayworth Galas."
47.^ Rosalia Gitau (March 11, 2010). "Art Therapy for Alzheimer's," HuffingtonPost.
Kobal, John. Rita Hayworth: The Time, the Place, the Woman (1977). ISBN 0-393-07526-5
McLean, Adrienne L. Being Rita Hayworth: Labor, Identity, and Hollywood Stardom (2004). ISBN 0-813-53389-9
Morella, Joe and Epstein, Edward Z. Rita: The Life of Rita Hayworth (1983). ISBN 0-385-29265-1
Peary, Gerald. Rita Hayworth: A Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies (1976). ISBN 0-515-04116-5
Ringgold, Gene. The Films of Rita Hayworth: The Legend and Career of a Love Goddess (1974). ISBN 0-806-504-390
Roberts-Frenzel, Caren. Rita Hayworth: A Photographic Retrospective (2001). ISBN 0-810-91434-4