b. Margarita Carmen Cansino, 17 October 1918, Brooklyn, New York, USA, d. 14 May 1987, New York, USA. An actress and dancer; one of the most popular and glamorous film stars of the 40s. In Hollywood she was dubbed ‘The Love Goddess’, and the pin-up picture (from the cover of Life magazine) of her on a bed clad only in a sheer negligee rivalled that of another Forces’ favourite, Betty Grable, and was stuck on the side of the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Hayworth started taking dancing lessons when she was six years old, and later, after the family had moved to Mexico, she formed a dance act with her father Eduardo, a well-known Spanish dancer. From the age of 16, she appeared as a dancer in several low-budget movies until she met the Texan promoter Edward C. Judson. He obtained a contract for her with Columbia Pictures and the couple were married in 1937. After appearing in several movies, including musicals such as Music In My Heart and Strawberry Blonde (with James Cagney), she made her breakthrough in 1941 when she partnered Fred Astaire in You’ll Never Get Rich, and they were teamed again the following year for You Were Never Lovelier. Around this time she also co-starred with Victor Mature in My Gal Sal. Having broken up with Judson, she married the actor Orson Welles in 1943, and a year later made what was probably her best musical, Cover Girl, with Gene Kelly. This was followed in 1945 by Tonight And Every Night which was set in London and was supposedly a tribute to the famous Windmill Theatre. After periods of dispute with Columbia during which she refused to make films, and two more marriages - to wealthy playboy Aly Khan and singer Dick Haymes - Hayworth made her final musical film, Pal Joey, with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, in 1957.
Although only a small percentage of her more than 60 movies were musicals, several of the films in which she played dramatic roles contained some memorable musical sequences, such as ‘Put The Blame On Mame’ from perhaps her most famous film, Gilda, and the incredibly erotic ‘The Heat’s On’ from Miss Sadie Thompson. According to the experts she was always dubbed by singers such as Anita Ellis, Martha Mears, Nan Wynn and Jo Ann Greer, and it will be their voices that are heard on the album The Rita Hayworth Collection: 20 Golden Greats. After a fifth marriage to producer James Hill from 1958-61, Hayworth continued to make films into the 70s. During that decade her behaviour led people to believe that she was a reclusive alcoholic, and it was only in later years that her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn, revealed that her mother had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In 1981 she was moved from California to New York and a court placed her in the care of Yasmin until she died in 1987.