Rita Hayworth was born Margarita (Rita) Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York.
Rita was the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino, Sr. and Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth. Her father wanted her to become a dancer while her mother hoped she would become an actress. Rita's grandfathers Antonio Cansino was most renowned in Spain's classical dances and made the bolero famous.
Rita began dancing on stage at the age of four and by age six was a member of The Cansinos, a famous family of Spanish dancers working in vaudeville.
When Rita was a teengager, she became her father's dancing partner. She was dancing 20 shows a week in nightclubs in California and at the Foreign Club in Tijuana, Mexico.
Rita made her film debut at the age of eight in La Fiesta (1926) under the name Rita Cansino. She would appear in thirteen films from 1926 to 1937 under the name of Rita Cansino including Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), Dante's Inferno (1935) and Human Cargo (1936).
Rita's first film as Rita Hayworth was Criminals of Air (1937). It was at this time she signed a seven year contract with Columbia Studios who changed her name and ordered her to dye her dark brown hair to red.
Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford appeared in five movies together: The Lady in Question (1940), Gilda (1946), The Loves of Carmen (1948), Affair in Trinidad (1952) and The Money Trap (1965).
During the film Gilda (1946), Rita accidently knocked out two of Glenn Ford's teeth during their fight scene.
Rita Hayworth's most notable film credits include Convicted (1938), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Angels over Broadway (1940), Pal Joey (1957), Separate Tables (1958) and Circus World (1964).
Rita's final film appearnce was The Wrath of God (1972).
Despite appearing in 61 films over 37 years, including leading roles in successful, classic films like Gilda, she never received an Academy Award nomination.
She did receive one Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for Circus World (1964) and was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.
Despite being an incredible dancer, Rita never appeared on Broadway. In 1962, when she was 42, her planned Broadway debut in Step on a Crack was cancelled for health reasons.
Rita Hayworth was married five times, all ending in divorce and each one lasting less than five years.
Rita was first married to Edward Charles Judson (1937–1942). Her second marriage was to Orson Welles (1943-1948) and they had one daugher Rebecca. Her third marriage was to Prince Aly Khan (1949 - 1953) and they had one daughter Princess Yasmin. Her fourth marriage was to Dick Haymes (1953-1955) and her fifth marriage to James Hill (1958-1961).
In fact, Rita Hayworth, not Grace Kelly was the first American movie star to become a Princess when she married Prince Aly Khan on May 27, 1949.
She was a cousin of Ginger Rogers by marriage, Rita Hayworth's uncle married Ginger Rogers' aunt.
On May 14, 1987 at the age of 68, Rita Hayworth died of Alzheimer's disease.