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Rita Hayworth

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Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987), was an American actress of Spanish and Irish descent who reached fame during the 1940s as the era’s leading sex symbol. She was sometimes called “The Love Goddess” or “The Great American Love Goddess,” and was celebrated as an expert dancer and great beauty.

Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, the daughter of Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and Volga Haworth (sic) in Brooklyn, New York. She was trained as a dancer from childhood, and was on stage by the age of six as a member of The Cansinos, a famous family of Roma Gitano Spanish dancers working in vaudeville. At age sixteen Rita attracted the attention of film producers as part of “The Dancing Cansinos” and was signed by Fox Studios in 1935. After her option was not renewed by Fox, Rita freelanced at minor film studios before signing with Columbia Pictures in 1937.

Rita’s metamorphosis began after a name change from Rita Cansino to Rita Hayworth and extensive painful electrolysis to raise her hairline. After two more years of minor roles she gave an impressive performance in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939) as part of an ensemble cast headed by Cary Grant . Her sensitive portrayal of a disillusioned wife sparked the interest of other studios. Between assignments at Columbia Pictures she was borrowed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer for George Cukor’s Susan and God (1940) with Joan Crawford and Warner Brothers for Raoul Walsh’s The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney.

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