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Being Rita Hayworth

Labor, Identity, and Hollywood Stardom

Adrienne L McLean

Publication Year: 2004

Who was Rita Hayworth? Born Margarita Carmen Cansino, she spent her life subjected to others' definitions of her, no matter how hard she worked to claim her own identity. Although there have been many "revelations" about her life and career, Adrienne McLean's book is the first to show that such disclosures were part of a constructed image from the outset. McLean explores Hayworth's participation in the creation of her star persona, particularly through her work as a dancer-a subject ignored by most film scholars. The passive love goddess, as it turns out, had a unique appeal to other women who, like her, found it extraordinarily difficult to negotiate the competing demands of family, domesticity, and professional work outside the home. Being Rita Hayworth also considers the ways in which the actress has been treated by film scholarship over the years to accomplish its own goals, sometimes at her expense.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xiv

When the subject of your work is a star like Rita Hayworth, you soon find that a lot of people have some fond recollection involving her and are eager to share it with you (I really never came across anyone who actively detested Hayworth or her films). Doing research for this project has thus been far more than a matter of reading books and articles, sifting...

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Introduction: Why Rita Hayworth?

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pp. 1-28

"Men fell in love with ‘Gilda,’ but they woke up with me.”1 This quotation can be found in virtually any biography, book-length or otherwise, of the movie star Rita Hayworth. The context and the wording may vary, but always the statement is produced as a sort of revelation whose poignancy derives from the combination of bruised self-awareness...

Part One: Stardom Off the Screen

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pp. 29-30

1. From Cansinoto Hayworth to Beckworth: Constructing the Star Person(a)

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pp. 31-65

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2. Rita Lives for Love: The Family Life of Hollywood’s Unhappiest Star

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pp. 66-108

The revelation at the center of Barbara Leaming’s 1989 biography of Rita Hayworth, If This Was Happiness, is that Hayworth had been sexually abused and beaten by her father throughout her childhood and adolescence. 1 Leaming acquired this information from Orson Welles, in whom Hayworth had presumably confided during the course of Hayworth’s...

Part Two: Film Stars, Film Texts, Film Studies

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pp. 109-110

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3. I’m the Goddessof Song and Danceper: Forming Competence in Down to Earth

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pp. 111-143

In its review of the Rita Hayworth musical Tonight and Every Night (1945) Weekly Variety remarked that “In Rita Hayworth, Columbia has a protagonist of musicals second to none in the industry.”1 Her skills in dancing, acting, and “simulated singing” (everyone knew her voice was dubbed by others) had become “expert” and “top-ranked” across the two...

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4. I Told You Not to Move—I Mean It! Cross-Examining Gilda and The Lady from Shanghai

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pp. 145-172

The film noir The Lady from Shanghai (1948) is undoubtedly the Rita Hayworth film most frequently studied in the academy. As an Orson Welles film its authorship is the primary reason for its scholarly appeal. Few of Hayworth’s other films were directed by men whom we would now consider auteurs (the exceptions being two early films in Hayworth’s...

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5. This Is Hayworth as Hayworth Really Is: The Secret Agent(s) of Affair in Tinidad and a Few Words about Miss Sadie Thompson and Salome

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pp. 172-197

Some of the most significant action in Hayworth’s star vehicle Gilda takes place in the musical numbers rather than, or as well as, in the narrative. On the other hand, musical performance is peripheral to The Lady from Shanghai, whose protagonist is mainly confirmed as a literal, as well as figurative, siren by her singing....

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Afterword: Replacing the Love Goddess

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pp. 198-206

As I have mentioned, closure is never the last word (so to speak), not with Hollywood films and especially not with scholarly studies of them or of their component parts. My study has centered on a single Hollywood star, but the questions I have been concerned to address in relation to Rita Hayworth’s film performances and offscreen image only...


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pp. 207-246

Cansino/Hayworth Filmography

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pp. 247-256


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pp. 257-266


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pp. 267-272

E-ISBN-13: 9780813551159
E-ISBN-10: 0813551153
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813533889
Print-ISBN-10: 0813533880

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 40 photographs
Publication Year: 2004