Vaudeville To Hollywood
Margarita Carmen Cansino ( Rita Hayworth ) was born in Brooklyn, NY into a family of dancers. By age twelve, she was an accomplished, graceful dancer. She joined her father's vaudeville stage act and became his dance partner. The dancing Cansinos performed on gambling boats in California and casinos in Tijuana.
Protective of her, Rita's father didn't allow her to have any dates until she was seventeen. Her first date was with a man that was 42 years old. A man, who a few months later, became her first husband. Eddie and Rita eloped when she was 18.
Eddie Judson was car salesman who had connections in Hollywood. He planned to attract the eye of the movie studios with the young talented Rita. He convinced her to undergo electrolysis on her hairline and dye her hair red. Thus beginning her glamorous transformation.
By 1942, she was a star. A glamorous actress earned $6500 a week. But something was missing in her life. She and her first husband, Eddie Judson drifted apart. The divorce was not friendly. As a matter of fact. Judson sued her for $12,000 and made several threats.
Miss Hayworth rarely spoke of her relationship with her first husband. She has said herself of her first marriage. “It wasn’t any fun."
Shortly after her divorce, Rita married Orson Welles in 1943. Welles pursued Rita after seeing the infamous LIFE photo of her. She fell for his advances and they formed a bond.
Orson's strength and mental power satisfied her yearning for a man to love and adore. Someone to look up to, to comfort. And for a while it seemed that Rita had found her mate.
Welles was very cosmopolitan. But Rita was more of a homebody and didn't gel with his social circle.
So once again, Rita found sorrow not joy in her marriage. Soon Welles began to stay away for weeks at a time. There were rumours of an affair with another Hollywood beauty, Marilyn Monroe.
The birth of their daughter. Rebecca, made no difference and the dream ended in divorce in 1947. After her divorce she had many suitors, including Howard Hughes.
Then along came Prince Aly Khan. Rita's prince charming had swept her off her feet. Handsome. rich, suave, travelled. There was nothing he lacked. Or so it seemed, to lonely love-hungry Rita Hayworth.
All the longing for a mate, the endless search for true love was building up under the pressure of her success. The 28 year old Rita soon found herself in a love affair with the reported "playboy."
The love affair took the ecstatic couple all over the world. With the press noting their every move.
Another Marriage Comes to an End
Shortly after the marriage, their baby Yasmin was born. But soon rumours swirled that things weren't going well.
The royal duties and responsibilities became too paramount for Rita. Prince Aly struggled hard to achieve a balance that would please her.
In the beginning they were happy. But when the passion wore off, stresses' and strains developed. The many state dinners and appearances were overwhelming. And Rita was lacking the simple companionship she needed. Disheartened and homesick, Rita and her baby came back home to America. She soon filed for divorce.
After the divorce things started to go downhill fast for Rita. Custody battles with both Welles and Khan ensued. And her choice in male companions grew worse.
She ended up marrying husband number four, Dick Haymes. Who unfortunately preyed upon her. After suffering physical abuse, she filed for divorce.
She later started a relationship with producer James Hill, whom she married in 1958. Unfortunately this marriage also did not last and she filed for divorce in 1961.
Rita started abusing alcohol and the early symptoms of Alzheimer's began to take hold.
By 1962, she would blank out and forget her lines. She even failed to recognize her ex husband Orson Welles and others.
By 1980 at the age of 62 she had advanced Alzheimer disease. Her daughter Yasmin became her legal guardian and cared for her up until her death in 1987.
Allegations of Abuse
In the biography, "If This Was Happiness" author Barbara Lemming makes a stunning claim. She believes Rita Hayworth was a victim of sexual abuse by her father. If true, it leaves a heavy heart. But may explain her complicated relationships with men through the years.