Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 - May 14, 1987), was an American actress who attained fame during the 1940s not only as one of the era's top musical stars, but also as the era's defining sex symbol, most notably in the 1946 film Gilda. She is listed as one of American Film Institute's (AFI) Greatest Stars of All Time.
Margarita Carmen Cansino, better known as Rita Hayworth, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and English/Irish-American Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth.
Hayworth was on stage by the age of six as a member of The Cansinos, a famous family of Spanish dancers working in vaudeville. Also, her father had performed in a dancing duo with his sister, and later revived the duo with his daughter Rita as his dancing partner, performing in nightclubs in California and the Foreign Club in Tijuana, Mexico. At age sixteen, she attracted the attention of film producers as part of "The Dancing Cansinos" and was signed by Fox Studios in 1935.
From Cansino to Hayworth
After her option was not renewed by Fox, Rita Cansino freelanced at minor film studios before signing with Columbia Pictures in 1937.
In 1937, Margarita Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth. After two more years of minor roles, she gave an impressive performance in Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings (1939), as part of an ensemble cast headed by Cary Grant. Her sensitive portrayal of a disillusioned wife sparked the interest of other studios. Between assignments at Columbia Pictures, she was borrowed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer for George Cukor's Susan and God (1940) with Joan Crawford and Warner Brothers for Raoul Walsh's The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney.
While on loan to Fox Studios for Rouben Mamoulian's Blood and Sand (1941) starring Tyrone Power, Hayworth achieved stardom with her sizzling performance as the amoral and seductive Dona Sol des Muire. This Technicolor film forever branded her as one of Hollywood's most beautiful redheads. Gene Tierney was originally intended for the role but was dropped by Darryl F. Zanuck when she eloped with Oleg Cassini. Carole Landis was the next choice for the role, but refused to dye her blonde hair red and was replaced by Rita Hayworth prior to filming. Fox then borrowed Hayworth from Columbia and dyed her dark brown hair auburn which soon became her best remembered feature. Her stardom was solidified when she made the cover of Time Magazine as Fred Astaire's new dancing partner in You'll Never Get Rich (1941). She co-starred with him again in You Were Never Lovelier (1942). Although Fred Astaire was more than pleased with Hayworth's dancing and considered her an excellent partner, he declined to have her appear in any more pictures with him. He did not want to be linked up with a single partner again, as he was with Ginger Rogers and earlier with his sister Adele Astaire...
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