On Top of Rita Hayworth’s World

ritablonde“Everybody knows that the most beautiful thing about Rita was her hair,” said her acting studio boss, Harry Cohn.1

The Columbia Pictures president was reacting to the unauthorized makeover upon his premier actress for The Lady from Shanghai (1947).

Without consulting him, she had cut off all her hair in an extreme makeover that also radically changed her trademark haircolor to blonde. She went from long and red to short and blonde.

big curls for Tales of Manhattan (1942)

It wasn’t Rita’s first major hair transformation.

Although her beauty was greater than just her mane–the svelte dancer had a beautiful face and figure–hair was, in fact, a significant issue at the start of her career in Hollywood.

Such a story is rarely told–back in the 1940s and still today. How many starlets do you know who were ignored until they changed their locks?

One report credits Rita Hayworth’s rise to fame as the result of a new hairline; whereas another says it was the decision to change her hair color. Which account is correct? Or were both alterations equally significant?

When she was young, like many girls starting out, Rita worked hard to get noticed. She once said she had been upset that nobody wanted their picture taken with her after her dancing shows in clubs. She had a lot of publicity photos taken, and showed up at all the right places to be seen, “but nothing much was happening as far as public reaction was concerned.”2

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