Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rita Hayworth

in Blood and Sand (1941)

Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino; October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987) was an American dancer and film actress who garnered fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars. Appearing first as Rita Cansino, she agreed to change her name to Rita Hayworth and her hair color to dark red to attract a greater range in roles. Her appeal led to her being featured on the cover of Life magazine five times, beginning in 1940.
The first dancer featured on film as a partner of both the stars Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, Hayworth appeared in a total of 61 films over 37 years. She is listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 Greatest Stars of All Time.
In 1972, Hayworth was 54 years old and wanted to retire from acting, but she needed money so signed up for The Wrath of God. The experience exposed her poor health and worsening mental state. As she could not remember lines, they filmed her scenes one line at a time.
The following year Hayworth agreed to do one more movie, Tales That Witness Madness (1973). Due to worse health, she abandoned the movie set, and returned to the United States. She never returned to acting.
In March 1974, both her brothers died within a week of each other, which caused her great sadness and led to heavy drinking. In 1976 at London's Heathrow Airport, Hayworth was removed from a TWA flight after having an angry outburst while traveling with her agent. "Miss Hayworth had been drinking when she boarded the plane," revealed a TWA flight attendant, "and had several free drinks during the flight." The event attracted much negative publicity; a disturbing photograph was published in newspapers.
Hayworth's alcoholism hid symptoms of what was eventually understood to be Alzheimer's disease. "For several years in the 1970s, she had been misdiagnosed as an alcoholic." "It was the outbursts," said her daughter, "She'd fly into a rage. I can't tell you. I thought it was alcoholism-alcoholic dementia. We all thought that. The papers picked that up, of course. You can't imagine the relief just in getting a diagnosis. We had a name at last, Alzheimer's! Of course, that didn't really come until the last seven or eight years. She wasn't diagnosed as having Alzheimer's until 1980. There were two decades of hell before that."
In July 1981, Hayworth's health had deteriorated to the point where a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that she should be placed under the care of her daughter, Princess Yasmin Khan of New York City. Hayworth lived in an apartment at The San Remo on Central Park West next to her daughter, who arranged for care for her mother through her final years.
Rita Hayworth lapsed into a semicoma in February 1987. She died at age 68 from Alzheimer's disease a few months later on May 14, 1987.


Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford in Gilda (1946)
Leesah

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