If This Was Happiness

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Presents a portrait of the celebrated pin-up girl, dancer, movie star, and sex goddess, discussing Hayworth's life, career, loves, and illness.

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Sivvie

Feb 22, 2010

5 husbands unlucky.

Margarita Carmen Cansino, born 1918, never had much of a chance at leading a stable, happy life. Her joy in dancing (and she had talent) was marred by the overbearing and incestuous relationship with her father and dancing partner, Eduardo. From all accounts she became a meek, pliable, repressed, shy, and often unhappy human being, and on blossoming into The Love Goddess Rita Hayworth, these characteristic traits were carried alongside her success, her battles with Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures, her personal relationships and marriages, and her drinking.
Rita comes across as a rather sweet person, used by at least three, maybe four, of her five husbands, and confused about her emotions and desires. As with most women reared in a repressive environment where the father has crossed the line between parent and user, Rita Hayworth submerged her real self so that the part which remained on the surface was of a quiet often 'tuned-out', passive personality; her life was mainly lived inside her head. Her first husband, Eddie Judson, pushed her to become a star for his own ends. Her second, Orson Welles, though a man of a superior mould to Hudson, cut her beautiful red hair and dyed it blonde for The Lady From Shanghai and generally wasn't around too much, not improving matters already going bad by dallying in affairs with actresses. Prince Aly Khan, her third husband, was a charming man but led the wrong life for Rita who really would have been better as a 'hausfrau' in a quiet, stable environment. As for Dick Haymes the fourth, he was a narcissistic disaster with a career if not on 'the skids' then getting there. James Hill, her fifth husband also admits to using her, pushing her to continue her film career when she clearly wasn't up to it. You do wonder how this beautiful creature survived through the years of such an awful misguided lifestyle. Her two daughters (Rebecca Welles and Princess Yasmin) had difficult lives too, what with their mother's many husbands and the constant moving from one place to another, with sometimes irresponsible carers. In fact, Becky Welles did not have much to do with her mother in later life, although Princess Yasmin became her mother's conservator when Rita became incapacitated due to the onset of alzheimer's disease.
This book is well researched by Barbara Leaming, demonstrating in a lucid, well-written style the full tragedy of Rita Hayworth, the destruction of alzheimer's on the brain cells, the frightening mood swings and the gradual deterioration of the victim's personality. At the finish the reader is left with affection and some awe at the stoicism Rita Hayworth displayed throughout her arduous and rather sad life.

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