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Rita Hayworth, Gilda, Pin up, and Alzheimer's

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Pin up Girl, Rita Hayworth


Rita Hayworth & the Gilda Image

Before Audrey Hepburn captivated the nation with her waif like girl next door quality, and Marilyn Monroe dominated the role of "sex goddess" for the decade of the 50's, all eyes were on Rita Hayworth. She projected grace and sensuality. Her glorious red hair was on the scene at the perfect time for technicolor was rapidly becoming standard use in order to compete with the new medium, television.

Her real name was Margarita Carmen Casino. Born in 1918 to theatrical parents, Margarita learned to dance and toured with her family's dancing team. The Casino's were eventually lured to California by their interest in the movie industry, and Margarita began receiving small parts and sometimes was cast in large dance scenes.

In the glory days of Hollywood there was the fabulous studio system. Stars were paid weather they made a movie or not. This allowed studios to hire dancing teachers, singing professors and dialogue coaches. While the stars were not making a movie they were attending classes to better themselves as an actor. Through their long time theater connections the Casino's were able to have Margarita signed with 20th Century Fox. She was now appearing in "B" movies while taking acting, singing and dancing lessons that would prove to be valuable to her in years to come. She married Edward Judson, who by all accounts was an opportunist who wanted to fuel his own ambitions by riding Margarita's coat tails.

While the talent coaches at the studio worked on Margarita, the glamour experts were working their magic on transforming Margarita into Rita. It was decided that she have electrolysis done because her dark hair was very low and unrefined. To give her more of a forehead she had painful treatments for approximately one year until she emerged with a perfect hairline.

Once she had the right look Rita Hayworth was used for many publicity stunts, photos and promotions, while at the same time she was given a variety of roles in order to further develop her talent and poise.

She divorced her first husband in 1942, and married Orson Wells in 1943. He brought something new into her life. He had been hailed as a 'boy genius" and Rita was captivated by his intellect. They soon discovered that they were total opposites. Orson craved being surrounded by people, and Rita liked peace and quite. After having one child, Rebecca Wells, Rita filed for divorce.

By the early 40's she had good roles such as The Strawberry Blond, and Angels Over Broadway and Cover Girl. Then there was Gilda. The single movie that Rita Hayworth is best remembered for. She played a sexy, vampy, yet naïve woman caught in a love triangle.

After Gilda was released, Rita was riding high with a succession of box office sensations, and took a trip to France. It was there that she met Prince Aly Khan. He was filthy rich, charming, and extravagant. Aly's relationship with Rita quickly became major news headlines, and they were quickly married in France with an Arabian Nights event. Rita's beautiful blue wedding dress was copied and sold thrughout the U.S.A.

Aly cheated on Rita, and never had any intention to be faithful to her even on their wedding day. Rita now longed for American values and the privacy that always eluded her. She divorced Aly and moved back to America.

Rita now had two children, Rebecca Wells, and Princess Yasmin, and she made the terrifying discovery that in the couple of years she was out of the country playing wife to Aly, Hollywood had changed drastically. It was the early 50's and Television was going strong, while the good old studio system was going bust. She felt out of place and insecure.

Rita Hayworth & Prince Aly Khan


Rita Hayworth Story from Amazon

Hayworth Post Pin up

Whereas in the past Rita was electric on screen, she often seemed dull now. She was past her prime, and lacking energy. During this treadmill time in her life she caused much confusion to the public and her family when she married Dick Haymes. This was to be a stormy marriage from the beginning, and it was not long before it was all over.

In the 60's she made several "B" movies and began having trouble memorizing her lines. She called her father in tears stating that she was unable to continue with stage performances because she could not easily recall her lines. Her sweet and professional father said "you have nothing to apologize for, you have had a long and successful career." Rita made only made guest appearances because she knew she was not up to working full time.

Hayworth Showing signs of Alzheimer's


Rita Confused in Heathrow Airport

Rita Hayworth had a drinking problem throughout most of her life, and her Daughter, Yasmin, has stated that during her childhood she witnessed her mother drinking often. Rita had always been emotionally insecure, and when the movie business would give her a hard time, a long drawn out drinking binge would follow.This was the cycle, when anything happened that could cause upset in her life, she would turn to drink. Yasmin was witnessing her mother flying into rants and belligerent outbursts, and she was shocked at witnessing what she thought to be her mother's alcoholic dementia so evident when she was actually only in her late 40's and early 50's.

In 1974 her two brothers died within one week of each other. This sent Rita spiraling into a drinking depression. Very little of Hayworth was heard from publicly until 1976 when Rita Hayworth was a major headline again. This time it was for being drunk and belligerent in a London airport. It was reported that Rita did not even know where she was, and had trouble remembering her name.

Sadly, know one was aware at the time, but Rita Hayworth was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, which progresses slowly. The minor signs she was experiencing in the 60's were the early telltale signs of her illness. It is believed that her earliest symptoms were showing at the age of 40.

Fortunately for Rita she had Yasmin, who took care of her mother up until the day she died in 1987. Rita was 68.

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Princess Yasmin and Her Mother, Rita Hayworth


Rita Hayworth's Grandson, Andrew


Rita Hayworth's Extended Family

In 1960, at the age of 48 Prince Aly Khan died of massive head injuries sustained in a car accident in Paris. His pregnant fiancée survived the crash but her unborn child did not.

Rita Hayworth's daughter by prince Aly Khan, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, had always been supportive and sympathetic towards her mother and Alzheimer's disease, and when President Ronald Regan heard of Rita's death from the disease he did his part and joined Princess Yasmin for Alzheimer's awareness only to succumb to the disease himself a few years later, but Yasmin has continued on as a fixture at all major Alzheimer's fund raisers and marches.

Those close to Yasmin have said that although she does not resemble her mother very much, she most definitely has her mothers personality and like her mother, she has suffered more than her share of tragic life events.

Yasmin was born in Switzerland and spent most of her years living with her mother and half sister, Rebecca Wells. She married a wealthy economist and shipping heir, Basil Embiricos in 1985. Their marriage lasted only two years and produced one child, Andrew Ali Aga Khan.

Just two years after her divorce she married a lawyer/real estate tycoon, Christopher Michael Jeffries, however, there was to be another divorce with Jeffries blaming Yasmin and Yasmin blaming Jeffries for abandonment. The marriage lasted only three years, and Yasmin kept herself busy with philanthropy projects only to be thoroughly devastated by her sons suicide at the age of 25.

Andrew placed a plastic bag over his head in a hotel room. He had suffered with drug addiction, including crystal meth, but his close friends suspect murder.

Rita Hayworth's "Gilda" on Amazon

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Dianna Mendez on June 25, 2012:

Her red hair was a trademark and she was so beautiful. I didn't know that she had a drinking problem, but I can see why she did now after reading your hub. Interesting life history of this star!

Skarlet (author) from California on June 25, 2012:

Thank you Sis.

It is really shocking how early in life her disease began taking its toll. She was really lucky that Yasmin was so understanding and helpful.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on June 25, 2012:

Rita -- an absolutely breathtaking beauty and such a sad life.As I recall her marriage to the Prince was the beginning of her downfall -- after much publicity about their marriage and her charmed life with him. She was indeed "off track" very early in her life and the press had a hay day with it -- so very, very sad. Thanks for the memories! Best/Sis

Suzie from Carson City on June 24, 2012:

Such a very beautiful woman....graceful and classy.....Her illness in later years was so very sad. I remember an interview I saw with her daughter, Yasmin. The story was just heartbreaking.

However, Rita somehow managed to remain utterly gorgeous, even into her elderly years. She had such perfect facial structure and flawless skin.

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