Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Rita Hayworth

Stardust: TCM's Star of the Month

By Ed Garea

Men go to bed with Gilda, but wake up with me.”

The Star of the Month for October is screen goddess Rita Hayworth, whose life offscreen was the stuff tragedies are made of. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, NY, in 1918, her parents were dancers. Her paternal grandfather, Antonio Cansino, was renowned as a classical Spanish dancer, popularizing the bolero. Brought up to be a dancer, in 1931 Rita partnered with her father, Eduardo Cansino, Sr., in an act called the Dancing Cansinos. Besides being her partner, her father was also her lover, setting the young Rita on a spiral from which she would never recover, as she kept looking for the perfect father figure and ending up bitterly disappointed each time. When she was 18 and a young starlet at Fox, she married Edward Judson, an oilman turned promoter who was more than twice her age and who played a large part in launching her acting career. According to Hayworth, “He helped me with my career and helped himself to my money,” compelling her to transfer a considerable amount of her property to him.

She divorced Judson in 1942 and married Orson Welles in 1943. Welles, who many cite as the love of her life, was a difficult person who, Hayworth said, did not want to be tied down: “During the entire period of our marriage, 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.” The marriage lasted until 1947, after which she married playboy Aly Khan. Their marriage lasted until 1951, as Khan’s wandering eye destroyed their bliss. 

In 1953 she married singer Dick Haymes, known in Hollywood as “Mr. Evil.” He milked Hayworth for money to pay of debts to ex-wives Nora Eddington and Joanne Dru, as well as the IRS. After a rocky two years together, Haymes slapped his wife across the face at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles in 1955. She left him and sued for divorce, which was granted in 1956. He last marriage was to film producer James Hill in 1958. Like her previous trips to the altar, this one also failed miserably and ended in 1961.

Hayworth had two daughters - Rebecca Welles, from whom she was estranged for years, and Yasmin Khan, who later became her caretaker when Hayworth developed Alzheimer’s disease. Rita Hayworth died in February 1987 at age 68 and she was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.

October 2: Some of Hayworth’s best films are featured this night, including musicals You’ll Never Get Rich (8 pm) and You Were Never Lovelier (9:45 pm), both co-starring Fred Astaire. At 1:30 am comes Only Angels Have Wings, with Cary Grant and Jean Arthur, followed at 3:45 am by Blood and Sand, with Tyrone Power.

October 9: Featured this night are three of Hayworth’s most defining performances. At 8 pm it’s Gilda, followed by The Lady From Shanghai at 10 pm. Finally at 11:45 pm, Hayworth co-stars with Gene Kelly in Cover Girl. Kelly was the perfect partner for Hayworth, as both were physical dancers.

October 16: Five of Hayworth’s '50s films are on tap, with the best being Pal Joey, with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, which opens the evening at 8 pm. Frank is the real star, with Hayworth and Novak providing support. Not as great film, but nevertheless an entertaining one. At 10 pm Rita is ravishing in Affair in Trinidad as a cafe singer who enlists brother-in-law Glenn Ford to track down her husband’s killer. At Midnight Rita dazzles in Miss Sadie Thompson, a musical remake of the old Somerset Maugham chestnut. The last two films are run of the mill: Fire Down Below, which followed at 1:45 am, and Salome at 4 am, as Rita plays thew title role in the by now obligatory Biblical epic.

October 23: An evening of late Hayworth films. The two best begin at 8 pm with Separate Tables. Burt Lancaster, Rita Hayworth, David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Wendy Hiller, Gladys Cooper, Cathleen Nesbitt, Rod Taylor, Felix Aylmer are all superb in this adaptation of Terrence Rattigan’s pair of romantic playlets set at English seaside resort reworked into compelling drama. Following at 10 pm, The Story on Page One, with Hayworth and Gig Young as lovers accused of killing her husband. They are defended by a drunken, bankrupt Tony Franciosca, who sees the case as his chance to get back his reputation. The other interesting film comers on at 4 am, The Wrath of God. This 1972 Western is notable only for the fact that Hayworth, decimated by Alzheimers, was noticeably reading her lines off cue cards.


  1. I'll be posting about "Gilda" and "Affair in Trinidad" in a few days; would you mind if I added a link to this post in my own post? You can find my blog at

    In fact, if you are amenable, I might post a day early so that readers can get a heads up about "Gilda" on October 9 on TCM.


  2. We would love for you to post such a link. We look forward to your analysis of "Gilda" and "Affair in Trinidad."