with the Persian Prince
" Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda... and woke up with me. "
" After all, a girl is - well, a girl. It's nice to be told you're successful at it. "
In an age
where old Hollywood glamour is being gradually superseded by the cheap and often
vulgar portrayals of overnight Reality TV starlets like Paris Hilton, the simple
evocation of the quintessential Hollywood Star Rita Hayworth should strike every
movie buffs imagination. Hayworth was certainly one of the most photogenic Stars
whose presence in the Charles Vidor's
Gilda opposite Glen Ford
hypnotized generations of movie goers in her black leather dress,
swinging her gloves to the tune of Green Moon. No other Love Goddess of the
Silver screen has matched her since nor has Sharon Stone's performance in
Basic Instinct crossing her pretty legs truly outshined the class and
First attracting the attention of film producers as part of the dance team The Dancing Cansinos, Hayworth was signed first by Fox Studios in 1935, then freelanced for several years before signing with Columbia Pictures. After a name change from Rita Cansino to Rita Hayworth, and painful electrolysis to raise her hairline, Rita made a splash as part of the ensemble cast in Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings (1939). The Strawberry Blonde with James Cagney followed in 1941. Finally her sizzling "other woman" part in Rouben Mamoulian's Blood and Sand (1941) with Tyrone Power solidified her new-found stardom.
Leading lady in many films co-starring with Glen Ford in "Gilda", Orson Welles
( former husband) in the "Lady of Shangai", and Cary Grant in "Only Angels
Hayworth's fame as a beautiful
redhead arose from this Technicolor film. The "love goddess" image was cemented
with Bob Landry's Life Magazine photograph of her (kneeling on a bed in a
nightgown), which caused a sensation and became (at five million copies) one of
the most requested wartime pinups. During World War II she ranked with Betty
Grable, Dorothy Lamour, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner as the pinup girls most
popular with servicemen. Rita would soon become
Her erotic appeal was most notable in Gilda (1946), a film noir directed by Charles Vidor, which encountered some difficulty with censors. This role - in which Hayworth performed a legendary one-glove striptease - made her into a cultural icon as the ultimate femme fatale. Other films include The Lady from Shanghai (1948) with husband Orson Welles, The Loves of Carmen (1948) with Gilda costar Glenn Ford, Salome (1953) with Stewart Granger, and the 1953 remake of Miss Sadie Thompson. Rita left her film career in 1948 to marry Prince Aly Khan son of Aga Khan III (1877-1957), the head of the Ismaili Muslims, whose ancestor was no other than the infamous 12th century zealot Hassan Sabbah leader of the Sect of the Assassins. The Ismaili's had long given up on religious zealotry and preached a more tolerant and philanthropic Islam. Combining a spiritual philosophy with a pragmatic approach to business they were more often associated to the Jet Set than a truly reigning royal family. Married several times and subsequently divorced Prince Aly Khan had the reputation of an insatiable playboy running several horse races including the prestigious Prix D'Ispahan. Little could he imagine that his heart would once again be enchained by that of a Hollywood Goddess.
affaire had all the ingredients of a
The Playboy Prince Aly was related to many celebrities before meeting Rita Hayworth,
such as , Maria Callas, or Yvonne De Carlo and was an avid horse
race investor creating the world famous Ispahan tournament. Rita's marriage to
Aly Khan led to a daughter Yasmin and made world headlines.
known as "The Lost Film of Rita Hayworth", Champagne Safari (also known
as Safari So Good) came about when Prince Aly Khan invited film director
Jackson and Lola Leighter along on he and Rita's extended trips through
Champagne Safari was released a year prior to the 1953 Blockbuster Mogambo
a love triangle with Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly also set in a Safari.
Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth's courtship was the cover story of the
1949 n°9 issue of
Champagne Safari begins
Rita and Aly's marriage reached the end of the road during the making of
Champagne Safari. Rita sailed back to
Beauty and Happiness do not rhyme and tragically both the Persian Prince and the Hollywood Goddess were to die in different yet tragic circumstances.
After about 1960, Hayworth suffered
from extremely early onset of Alzheimer's disease, which was not diagnosed until
1980; she continued to act in films until the early 1970s and made a
well-publicized appearance on The Carol Burnett Show near the end of her
career. Lynda Carter starred in a 1983 bio pic of her life. She lived in an
apartment at the
Following her death from Alzheimer's
in 1987 at age 68, she was interred in the
Yasmin Aga Khan daughter of Rita and Aly
There is nevertheless a happy conclusion to the doomed marriage in the person of Princess Yasmin the only daughter of Rita and Aly. Originally interested in operatic singing, the young princess later influenced by her mother's death from Alzheimer's disease, and her father's family's philantropic concerns serves on the Board of Directors, as Vice Chairman, of the United States Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Association.
About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian. He also operates as
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