An Interview with:
Rita Hayworth: A Photographic Retrospective author,
Caren Roberts-Frenzel

Page 3: Speculations on what might have been
As I said earlier, Caren gives interesting insight into Rita's life, so here I asked for her thoughts on some aspects of Rita's life other fans have probably wondered about:

Rita, before her "transformation" from Cansino to Hayworth was already very beautiful, what do you think would have become of her career if she hadn't been dropped from her Fox contract in 1936 and just stayed Rita Cansino?

Wow, that's an interesting question. It's hard to speculate. It would have been fascinating if she had become a famous Hispanic star - her career would have been completely different. So many of the stars that became famous weren't always the most beautiful, or the most talented - sometimes they were just in the right place at the right time. Or they met just the right person to promote them (in Rita's case, this was her first husband, Ed Judson, and in the case of say, Marilyn Monroe, it was agent, Johnny Hyde). Maybe Fox would have taken the same path, and transformed her into the All-American girl. It's hard to say because there are so many avenues she could have taken had she stayed with Fox.

What do you think of those early films of hers? It looked to me like they weren't exactly sure how to put her talents to use. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if she had made Ramona?

Yes, for her it would have been wonderful because she was so broken-hearted when she lost the part. But everything happens for a reason, and maybe her acting wasn't mature enough for her to handle such a part. It could have been a disaster. And Rita really did improve in the acting department. With every film she got better and better, more natural and realistic. At that time in her life and career, she was still such a novice that it might have turned her career sour. Then again, it could have been a huge hit! But she did so well later on, with musical comedy (which was what she felt she was best at), that it's hard to imagine she would have been better in heavy dramatic parts at such a young age. All of her zest and verve and fantastic dancing talent would have been lost to the world!

Do you think Rita's star potential on film showed right from the beginning, if not, what do you think was her first, "good" movie?

Music in My HeartI don't necessarily think you would watch one of the early Rita Cansino films and say, "Wow, that girl is going to be a big star!" except, perhaps, when she danced. And this is because she exuded such confidence and charisma when she danced. If you watch "Trouble in Texas," her dialogue is rather stiff, but then she gets out on the dance floor and you think, "she's amazing!" because she always knew exactly what she was doing when she was dancing. She had had years to perfect her dancing, and the facial expressions that go with it. Eventually, with each passing film, she learned more and gained more confidence, and became the spirited performer that we all know and admire. I think when you watch "Music in My Heart," you get the first real taste of her charm and talent for comedy. She also was becoming more confident in front of the camera.

This is kind of a jump but in the same line of thinking, what do you think her life might have been like if she had not gotten Alzheimer's Disease. Do you think she would have kept making movies?

Well, again this is pure speculation, but based on the way her career was moving in the 1950s and 1960s (towards dramatic roles such as Separate Tables and Circus World), I think she would have continued to pursue dramatic roles that showed off her increasingly impressive acting ability. As I said before, she just seemed to get better and better, and I think that would have continued had she been able to retain her dialogue. It was a different time in that women of her age didn't have a lot of good parts available to them, but she always managed to keep working, even in the late 60s and early 70s when she was quite ill, so had she not been ill, she probably would have done even better work and more of it. Her personal life probably would have been more fulfilling as well. It's rather sad to think about, since it was all completely out of her control. I'm sure she would have made a wonderful grandmother!

Do you think she would have been good with stage work, or performing for live audiences like on the Carol Burnett Show (which she was hilarious in!)?

I know that she was very disappointed when she wasn't able to memorize her lines for the two Broadway shows she was slated for (Step on a Crack in 1962 and Applause in 1971), so that leads me to believe that had her memory not been impaired, she would have pursued stage work. The Carol Burnett Show was taped before a live audience and I think that was nerve-wracking for her because there is never enough time to rehearse for a show like that. Even those stars that don't have problems retaining their lines have difficulty with shows like that (for example, you always see people on Saturday Night Live - which actually is live - reading the cue cards). You can imagine, then, how much more difficult those shows were for Rita, who had such a problem with memorization. And in the case of the Burnett Show, it wasn't just reading cue cards, but singing and memorizing dance routines, too.

Did Rita sing "Mutual Admiration Society" [on the Carol Burnett Show] using her own voice?

Yes, she used her own voice in all of the TV shows she was on in the 1970s (Laugh-In, Merv Griffin, Carol Burnett). So you see, at least she was able to finally prove that she could carry a tune!

I asked a question like this is one of my polls once and I want to see what you would say; if you could cast Rita in any movie with any co-stars what would it be and with who?

I can't really think of a particular movie off of the top of my head, but I would have liked to have seen her opposite Robert Mitchum in the 1940s. They appeared in Fire Down Below together, but that is not a particularly wonderful film. I would have liked to have seen her in the Gilda period, playing opposite Robert Mitchum in a black and white film noir piece. Nothing against Jane Greer, but Rita would have been wonderful with Mitchum in "Out of the Past." And Rita would have loved to sink her teeth into a role like that, one in which the character had no redeeming qualities (sort of like her role in The Lady From Shanghai, but better). I also wish Rita would have had better choices as far as leading men. To team her with men like Larry Parks, Lee Bowman, and Aldo Ray, with whom I think she had very little chemistry, is a shame. When you see her with Tyrone Power and Gary Cooper, you see what she could do with actors who had equal magnetism on the screen. I recently saw a film with Glenn Ford and Bette Davis called "A Stolen Life," and I think Rita would have been wonderful in that film. She would have been much more believable as a partner for Glenn Ford (that had already been established), and she could have done a superb job playing the dual characters.

Movie poster for Out of the Past on the left and on the right with
Tyrone Power. The chemistry they had in Blood and Sand ignited
the screen and turned her into a major star.

Speaking of dual characters, can you talk about the dichotomy of Rita’s screen persona, the indelible “Gilda” image, and the person she was in real life?

The image fans had of Rita was based on what they saw on film, and not the real person. But back then she did bear the weight of that image to some extent, knowing that in real life she was nothing like that. Nowadays you see actors and actresses on Entertainment Tonight and you see what their real personalities are like - Rita was never really allowed to show her real self to the public, and so they weren't able to distinguish between the screen icon and the human being. That definitely was something she had difficulty with. She felt she was being dishonest, but she had no control over this, as it was dictated by the studio she was under contract to, Columbia.

When do you think was the happiest time in her life? Many say her time with Orson and her daughter's birth. Do you agree?

with Orson WellesI would agree with that. I think when she married Orson Welles, she was at her happiest. I also think the period after her divorce from Ed Judson and while she was romancing Victor Mature was a happy time for her, primarily because she was really free for the first time in her life. But even though she was at her happiest with Orson, my opinion is that the love of her life was Prince Aly Khan. In her later years, she never failed to rhapsodize over him. One of the wonderful things about Rita is that she always lingered over the good times, and didn't care to discuss the bad times. She always had a positive attitude, and liked to look on the bright side of things.

- Page 1: A little background/The book
- Page 2: Caren's amazing collection
- Page 3: Speculations on what might have been
- Page 4: Favorites, E!, and meeting a Princess

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