Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Dance Party: Rita's Looks

This was one of the sassy looks which caused people to remark on my mother's resemblance to Hayworth.
Though a huge musical film star in the 40s and 50s, Rita Hayworth has never been on my radar much, I'm not sure why.  She was one of the top stars of the Golden Age of Musical Film, and she holds the distinction of being the very first person to partner, on film, with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. 
Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles play
matador. What could go wrong with
THAT marriage?

She had a complicated private life, with multiple marriages, including one to Orson Welles, another to singer Dick Haymes, and even one to a Muslim prince.  She struggled with alcohol abuse, which was, in her later life, exacerbated by what we now recognize to be Alzheimer's.  But in her prime, she was highly regarded as a dancer, voted one of the top film stars for several years running, and she is considered one of only two superstar pinup girls during WWII (the other, of course, was Betty Grable).
WWII Pin Up Girls Gable and Hayworth sent a lot of Yanks to the latrine for a lot of yanks.
Hayworth's birthday was this week,  the day before my mother's birthday, which was yesterday.  This coincidence is the real reason Rita has popped up on my radar so unexpectedly.  I've been thinking a lot about my mother this week, as often happens this time of year.  In her later years (that is, in the years I knew her), my mother was often told she resembled Juliet Prowse (I wrote about that a while ago, when Juliet had her own Dance Party).  But in my mother's earlier adult life, back when she was in her 20s and early 30s, she was often told she resembled Rita Hayworth.
Here's Rita.
Here's my mother.  There is a resemblance.
This week's Dance Party comes from 1942's You Were Never Lovelier, which contains several swell pas de deux featuring Hayworth and Astaire (in his later years, Fred revealed that Rita was his favorite dancing partner).  This number reminds me of a couple of times when I danced with my mother. 
These publicity stills were taken during my mother's trip to
Cuba (pre-Castro, of course), part of her duties as the first
Apple Blossom Queen of Hendersonville, NC.

There was the time when my mother taught me a triple-timestep in the kitchen of our house in California, and another time when the family was having a farewell dinner for me (I was moving temporarily to Utah);  that night, before leaving for the restaurant, my mother and I danced a jitterbug on the living room carpet.  These are just a couple of memories which have resurfaced in my brain this week, and since both of these memories are at least 30 years old, I'm thrilled that I still have them.


Here is the clip which triggered those precious memories.  Happy Birthday, Mom.