Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rita Hayworth and Stayin' Alive!

Growing up, whenever I would ask my mother about how they came to name me Rita, which was not a family name, I always got the same answer.  "Your father named you and it was the name he wanted."   It took many years of asking, and finally making a big pest of myself when I was fifteen, before my father caved in.  He finally answered my question with more than his standard "Oh I just liked it" line. 

That's when I learned I was named for the actress Rita Hayworth. But, the story was more involved than being named for one of the biggest film stars of her era.  My father spent a good chunk of world war two in the navy as a ship's cook.  My father acquired what would become the second most popular pin-up poster of the war. It was of Miss Hayworth and it hung in his galley during his entire time aboard ship.  Dad claimed that Rita Hayworth's sultry eyes and sexy pose were the only things that kept him going and were responsible for his making it home after the war.

I never could get a description of that infamous poster from my father.  If he still possessed it after his 1945 marriage to my mother it never came to light.  My research tells me Rita Hayworth's famous and sultry pose in a black negligee quickly made its way across the Atlantic in 1941, as troops brought the picture with them on their way to war.  It ended up as the second most popular pinup in all of World War II.  

I'm not sure that this is the same photo but it is the only black negligee photo I've been able to locate.  The two photos below however, were not too far down in the pecking order.  I would not be surprised to find the shot of Miss Hayworth in the swimsuit with the ship's wheel was the actual poster my father spoke of having even though he insisted he had the second best selling pinup poster of the war.  

 Hayworth, whose two brothers both fought in the conflict, didn't just pose for pictures: she also was involved in selling war bonds, and appeared in many USO shows.  Her famous strawberry-blond hair was  actually an act: her real hair color was jet black, but she dyed it a dark red and even underwent electrolysis to alter her hairline after she became concerned about being typecast in "Hispanic" roles.  Rita Hayworth was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1918 as Margarita Carmen Cansino, the oldest child of two dancers.  Her father, Eduardo Cansino, Sr., was from a little town near Seville, Spain.  Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish-English descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies. 

A few days ago I received an interesting video link in my e-mail from a family member.  It features Rita Hayworth in an assortment of old film clips dancing to the song "Stayin' Alive."  Somebody had a lot of fun putting this clip together.  Most of the people in the clips were deceased before the Bee Gee's released this song in December 1977.  Rita Hayworth died at the age of 68 from Alzheimer's disease on May 14, 1987.

I could not get the embedded video below to play on my system.  If it does not work for you please click on the link in blue to watch my name sake Rita Hayworth strut her stuff in this amazing video on U-tube.   

And, just in case your wondering what the number one selling poster was during the war years.  

It was this one of Betty Grable. 

And, as a little side note:  I never thought the name Rita fit me. In my book, it is too exotic for my personality and since about the age of ten, and long before knowing about this actress and her poster, I wished my parents had named me Betty.    


  1. I love your name and until you said it I never thought it didn't suit you
    Betty is a cool name too
    there is a league of Bettys, I saw a news story about them

    great story Rita
    thanks for all the history

  2. Love the video! Great story about your father too. Have a great week!

  3. What a great story! Do we ever really think our names fit? I wonder...nice to be named for a famous person...I was named for a song!

  4. A great story! The women were so pretty and elegant back then.

  5. What an absolutely delightful post!!! There is another blogger who was named after Rita Hayworth and she has posted about that as well. I just cackled when you said you had wanted to be named Betty instead, since Betty Grable's poster was number 1. I had seen the two posters of Rita Hayworth (the bathing suit and the one next to it) but had never seen the one in the black negligee, and frankly I think it's better than the other two. I was named after two songs that were popular when my parents had me "Linda" and "Marie"....I've heard the "Marie" song because it was re-done in the 60s. But, I've never heard the Linda song. Mom wanted to name me Priscilla (I guess Priscilla Marie) and I would have been very happy with that, but Dad didn't like Priscilla. I like the name Linda, but always felt that Marie suited me better. This was delightful! I'm so glad you looked up the posters!

  6. Ah, I remember your mentioning the name "Betty." Since I'd never met a "Rita" before, yours will always be the face I associate.
    Tom actually showed me this video a few weeks ago, and I couldn't get that song out of my head for days... isn't it GREAT?!
    Fun, informative share!

  7. I like the name Rita.... can't see you as a Betty (You probably weren't thinking of changing it at this date anyway)....Off to watch the video (if it loads)...sounds fun!

  8. Wonderful story Rita! Glad you finally found out how your name came about. It do like Rita better than Betty. Then again I don't think my name is the greatest ... lol - Donna.


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