Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino; October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987) was an American actress and dancer. She achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era’s top stars, appearing in a total of 61 films over 37 years. The press coined the term “love goddess” to describe Hayworth after she had become the most glamorous screen idol of the 1940s. She was the top pin-up girl for GIs during World War II.
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Hayworth is perhaps best known for her performance in the 1946 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, called her his favorite dance partner. Her greatest success was in the Technicolor musical Cover Girl (1944), with Gene Kelly. She is listed as one of the top-25 female motion picture stars of all time in the American Film Institute’s survey, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars.
In 1980, Hayworth was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which contributed to her death at age 68. The public disclosure and discussion of her illness drew attention to Alzheimer’s, and helped to increase public and private funding for Alzheimer’s research.