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Why Rita Hayworth Never Kept Her Husbands for Long

Rita Hayworth was a famous classic pin-up girl and actress. Her talent and beauty charmed men from all over the world.

What they didn’t see was the tortured soul behind her eyes. Her relationships with men mirrored the abusive one she had with her father.

They changed her appearance, cheated on her, slapped her face in public, and worse. They all didn’t understand or accept who she was. When the time came for them to leave, she almost always was the one to tell them to get out.

Keep watching to learn why Rita Hayworth never kept her husbands for long.

Rita’s Early Life

Margarita Cansino was born on October 17, 1918. Her parents, Eduardo Cansino and Volga Hayworth were both dancers.

Her mother hoped she’d be an actress, but her father wanted her to be a professional dancer.

She was taken out of school to be his dance partner and received lessons since she was three and a half. She didn’t like them but didn’t have the courage to tell him.

Rita performed everywhere, including nightclubs and casinos. She saw the light of the stage before the age of five in a Broadway production. In 1926, at age eight, she appeared in a Warner Brots short film La Fiesta.

Her father took her to Hollywood in 1927 where he established his own studio and hoped her dancing could be featured in films. She was too young to perform in casinos in America so they also went to Tijuana, Mexico. She was isolated from the world and never got to play with other children or graduate from high school.

That was where her troubles with men began. Her father beat her and sexually abused her. It ruined her mind and confidence to the point where she said she was attracted to “mean men” for the rest of her life.

Eddie Judson

Rita married oilman turned promoter Eddie Judson in 1937. Her family disapproved of her wedding to a man twice her age, and she soon realized they were right. She later said, “I married him for love, but he married me for an investment.”

He used her rising star to make himself money and squandered every cent she earned. She said that he helped her with her career but helped himself to her money.

Many of her most influential roles came after he got her a new contract with Columbia Pictures. One of his major “contributions” was hiding her heritage. He gave her an American-sounding stage name and even tried to change the beautiful star’s appearance. He made her undergo painful electrolysis treatments to move her hairline back and dyed it auburn to make her “look less Latin.”

1939’s Only Angels Have Wings

She played the second female lead in 1939’s Only Angels Have Wings and then earned 13 minor roles before moving to Warner Bros. Her first major success was 1941’s Strawberry Blonde. She showed off her dancing skills with Fred Astaire in 1941’s You’ll Never Get Rich.

Rita became the second most popular actress of the time behind Betty Grable. Her allure only improved with 1946’s Gilda. It was so sultry that it earned her the nickname the ‘love goddess of Hollywood” and gave her an image she couldn’t escape, even with her husbands.

Eddie had been Rita’s manager even before they were married, but then he turned into her pimp. He convinced her to have sex with Hollywood elites to boost her falling career. She refused Columbia studio boss Harry Cohn, and he held a grudge against her for years.

Rita divorced Eddie on February 24, 1942, citing cruelty after he compelled her to transfer considerable property to him. She also paid him $12,000 under threat of bodily harm.

Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the best pinup girls of Old Hollywood. Keep watching to learn why Rita Hayworth never kept her husbands for long, not even the one she called the great love of her life.

Orson Wells

Like most men, famous actor and director Orson Wells had seen her pinup spreads before meeting her and was impressed. It was one of the first examples of what she called the “Gilda effect,” where men expected her to be the same provocative femme fatale she played in the 1946 film of the same name.

When Orson eventually met her, he realized how shy she was. He’d often have to use tricks to get her to speak. It worked, and they were married on September 7, 1943. They had no honeymoon because she had to get back to the studio, but they were considered one of the happiest couples in Hollywood at the time.

He moved into politics, and she tried to get out of her film career. Orson knew that she hated being a movie star. She instead dedicated her life to him, including carrying his child. Their daughter, Rebecca, was born in 1944.

That was also the year that Orson’s affair with married heiress Gloria Vanderbilt came to light. He was also linked with Judy Garland and reportedly visited sex workers.

The wild Orson claimed that he never should have been married in the first place. In RIta’s own words, he said it “interfered with his freedom in his way of life.” They filed for divorce in 1947, but she insists that he was still the great love of her life.

Aly Khan

All sorts of powerful men tried to court Rita after Orson left her, including Aristotle Onassis, the Shah of Iran. The one who won out was Aly Khan, the most powerful leader in the Islamic world.

The two met at a party on the French Riviera and spent the night dancing. He won her over with expensive gifts such as trips to Europe and bouquets of roses every day.

It’s possible that if she hadn’t become pregnant with his child, they would never have been married because her heart still belonged to Orson. She went to visit him days before the wedding. He advised her against marrying “the most promiscuous man in Europe,” but she went through with it.

Rita gave birth to their daughter Yasmin seven months later. They disagreed about how to raise her. Khan offered her $1 million to raise her as a Muslim from age 7 and go to Europe with him for a few months a year.

When she returned to New York in 1951, she told reporters she was looking forward to American comforts such as Broadway and hot dogs. She stayed for two months and tried to deny the fact that her marriage to Aly Khan was crumbling.

The “Gilda effect” was partially to blame again. He didn’t get what he wanted from her and was caught with actress Joan Fontaine. She was granted a divorce in 1953.

Dick Haymes

Dick Haymes was married and having financial problems thanks to his failing singing career. His ex-wife Nora Eddington sent out a warrant for his arrest due to $3,800 in unpaid alimony, and he owed $4,800 to his other ex Joanne Dru.

Rita was having her own issues with a custody battle. It seemed like a terrible time to start a romance, but she stepped in to pay most of his debts.

He got a larger audience whenever she showed up to clubs where he performed, and he began to think that marrying her could help his career. It also kept him from being deported to Argentina as an illegal alien. They were married on September 24, 1953.

Despite all she did for him, Rita’s marriage to Dick wasn’t healthy. In 1955, he publicly struck her in the face at the Cocanaut Grove Nightclub. She packed up and never returned.

She was so affected by the incident that her doctor ordered her to stay in bed for several days. Also, she had her own financial troubles because Aly Khan wasn’t paying child support. Her efforts to sue Orson Wells for back payment of child support were unsuccessful.

That left her in a financial pickle. She was becoming desperate, and the next man who came along seemed like he could finally rescue her. Their marriage, if not one of love, was one of necessity.

James Hill

James Hill was a producer who got Rita a role in one of her last major films, Separate Tables. It was popular, but Harvard Lampoon named Rita the worst actress of 1958. She and James were married on February 2, 1958.

Rita wanted out of the movie business, but her husband wanted them both to stay in the spotlight. Most agree that was the candle that lit the flame that burned down their relationship.

Charlatan Heston said in his autobiography that James once threw verbal insults at her until she sobbed. He was embarrassed and wanted to slug him.

Her behavior at home also became erratic. She once threw a candelabra at him and narrowly missed his head.  She filed for divorce on September 1, 1961.

Her Death and Last Years

Rita’s outbursts were later discovered to be the first signs of early onset Alzhimer’s.  She wasn’t diagnosed until 1980.

Her daughter Yasmin said that getting the diagnosis was a relief but that she was a shell of her former self. Orson Wells also remembers a time that they met together when she didn’t recognize him for at least four minutes. He called her “one of the dearest and sweetest women that ever lived” the day before his own death in 1985.

Rita Hayworth died at the age of 68 on October 17, 1987, from complications of Alzheimer’s. She’s interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. Her headstone includes a statement from her daughter: “To yesterday’s companionship and tomorrow’s reunion.”

Her Legacy

Ronald Regan gave a statement after Rita Hayworth’s death. He praised her talent and said that she’d completed a “great public service” in the way that her struggle with Alzheimer’s brought attention to the disease.

She’s shown up in pop culture over and over again since then. One of the most popular examples is when her poster’s used in a jailbreak in the hit film Shawshank Redemption. It’s a fitting symbol of all the adversities she overcame, chipping away at them bit by bit like the title character.

The story of the “love goddess of Hollywood” also shows what can happen when a woman is pushed too far. Other than her one true love, Orson, she always left the men in her life who treated her poorly instead of waiting for them to leave her. She never kept her husbands for long because she knew they weren’t giving her the compassion she deserved. She, unfortunately, failed to get the one thing she always wanted; love.

Who’s your favorite classic pinup girl? Let us know in the comments.

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