Rita Hayworth Undressed
Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987), was an American actress of Spanish and English descent who reached fame during the 1940s as the era's leading sex symbol. She was sometimes called "The Love Goddess" or "The Great American Love Goddess," and was celebrated as an expert dancer and great beauty.
She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, the daughter of Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and Volga Haworth in Brooklyn, New York. The Cansinos were a famous family of Spanish dancers working in vaudeville. Their family ancestry were of the Roma people native to Spain. Hayworth was trained as a dancer from childhood, and was on stage by the age of twelve.
First attracting the attention of film producers as part of the dance team "The Dancing Cansinos," Hayworth was signed first by Fox Studios in 1935, then freelanced for several years before signing with Columbia Pictures. After a name change from Rita Cansino to Rita Hayworth, and painful electrolysis to raise her hairline, Rita made a splash as part of the ensemble cast in Howard Hawks' ''Only Angels Have Wings'' (1939). '' The Strawberry Blonde'' with James Cagney followed in 1941. Finally her sizzling "other woman" part in Rouben Mamoulian's ''Blood and Sand'' (1941) with Tyrone Power solidified her new-found stardom.
Hayworth's fame as a beautiful redhead arose from this Technicolor film. The "love goddess" image was cemented with Bob Landry's Life Magazine photograph of her (kneeling on a bed in a nightgown), which caused a sensation and became (at five million copies) one of the most requested wartime pinups. During World War II she ranked with Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner as the pinup girls most popular with servicemen. Rita would soon become Columbia's biggest star of the 1940s, under the watchful eye of studio chief Harry Cohn.
Hayworth's well-known films include the musicals that made her famous: ''You'll Never Get Rich'' (1941) and ''You Were Never Lovelier'' (1942) (both with Fred Astaire), ''My Gal Sal'' (1942) with Victor Mature, and her best known musical, ''Cover Girl'' (1944) with Gene Kelly. Although her singing voice was dubbed in her movies, Rita was one of Hollywood's best dancers, dancing with power, precision, and unearthly grace. 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 ''Gilda'' (1946), a ''film noir'' directed by Charles Vidor, which encountered some difficulty with censors. This role —