Rita Hayworth dancing with Fred Astaire

Best known for her performance in Gilda, Rita Hayworth was one of the 1940s most famous (and one of my all time favourite) movie stars. I certainly didn’t know all of these facts, so I’d love to know how many are new to you too!

  1. Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York.
  2. Her natural hair colour wasn’t the trademark red she became known for but dark brown (you can see a photo of her before her Hollywood makeover here)
  3. Her Spanish father was a dancer, and her mother, Volga, was a Ziegfeld Follies girl.
  4. Rita Cansino, as she was still known, made her film debut with a bit part in the film Cruz Diablo (1934) at age 16,
  5. Rita Hayworth was the first Hollywood star to become a princess when she married Prince Aly Khan in 1949.
  6. Hayworth’s pin up photo from Life magazine was one of the most popular pin ups for American servicemen serving overseas in World War II. You can see that pin up photo here.
  7. In 1971 she briefly attempted a stage career, but it was quickly halted when it was apparent that Hayworth was unable to memorize her lines.
  8. Hayworth died of Alzheimers disease in 1987.
  9. She is one of six women who has danced on screen with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
  10. Referring to her bombshell status, her likeness was placed on the first nuclear bomb to be tested at the Bikini Atolls in 1946. She was horrified.

You can see more photos of the lovely Rita Hayworth here

Read more from our “10 things you didn’t know about…” series

Photo source and copyright: This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.