Yesterday was Rita's birthday, so I thought it only fitting to honor her today.
Born in to a family of professional dancers, Margarita Carmen Cansino danced on stage starting at the age of six. Attracting the attention of film producers at the age of 16, Hayworth was signed first by Fox Studios in 1935, then Columbia Pictures in 1937. After a name change from Rita Cansino to Rita Hayworth, two more years of working in B movies, and painful electrolysis to raise her hairline, Hollywood and the public began to take notice.
Rita turned heads when she starred with Cary Grant in Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings. Soon she was in great demand and was borrowed by other studios until her part in Rouben Mamoulian's Blood and Sand with Tyrone Power solidified her new-found stardom.
Incredibly photogenic, Rita was dazzling in Technicolor, and her head of long, flowing hair became her best remembered attribute. The "love goddess" image was cemented with Bob Landry's 1941 Life magazine photograph of her (kneeling on a bed in a silk and lace nightgown), which caused a sensation and became -- at over five million copies -- one of the most requested wartime pinups.
Naturally shy and reclusive, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she played. She once complained "Men go to bed with Gilda, but they wake up with me". But those who knew her best knew she was kind, loving, and enjoyed her solitude.