If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara LeamingA beautiful actress, a gifted dancer, a fiery screen temptress linked to some of the most handsome men of her generation, Rita Hayworth seemed to live the life that dreams are made of. But the reality behind the fantasy was a harsh one. Sexually abused by her father as a young girl, Rita constantly searched for a man to save her, marrying five times. At the age of forty-two, Alzheimers disease began to ravage her mind, cutting short her career at its peak. A haunting and sympathetic tribute to the talented but insecure beauty who was created, and ultimately destroyed, by the movies.
From the Paperback edition.
To become a Hollywood star and icon, Rita Hayworth had to transcend not just her waistline or her hairline, but her own ethnicity. But Hayworth was not what she seemed , writes Adrienne L. McLean—and neither is the legend about her storied transformation from Hispanic dancer to Anglo-seeming star. But while it may have seemed that Hayworth walked away from her true identity, writes McLean, the truth was anything but. Cansino had to go on restrictive diets and maintain a grueling exercise regimen. She was convinced to give up her birth name and undergo two years of painful electrolysis to change her low, dark hairline. Similarly, Hayworth played roles that were both sexy and wholesome—presumably some kind of combination of the permissiveness Hollywood felt her ethnicity allowed and her new identity as a chaste white woman to be protected and cherished.
She achieved fame during the s as one of the era's top stars, appearing in 61 films over 37 years. The press coined the term "The Love Goddess" to describe Hayworth after she had become the most glamorous screen idol of the s. Hayworth is perhaps best known for her performance in the film noir Gilda , opposite Glenn Ford , in which she played the femme fatale in her first major dramatic role. Fred Astaire , with whom she made two films, once called her his favorite dance partner. In , Hayworth was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease , which contributed to her death at age The public disclosure and discussion of her illness drew attention to Alzheimer's, which was largely unknown by most people at the time, and helped to increase public and private funding for Alzheimer's research. They also had two sons: Eduardo Jr.