Gilda, released in 1946, stars Rita Hayworth as the titular character, caught in a love triangle between her husband and lover. Though Hayworth had already made a name for herself acting and dancing a few movies prior, Gilda catapulted her to one of the top names in Hollywood, even to this day. The sensuality portrayed by Hayworth in the film solidified her as a cultural icon, and we will always remember her dark glamor as a femme fatale.
1. It took Rita Hayworth a couple of tries to totally become Rita Hayworth.
Rita Hayworth was born Margaret Cansino and was first contracted to 20th Century Fox. She performed in a couple of pictures before they dropped her. She changed her name, hairline and hair color (under the encouragement of her husband-manager) before she signed a new contract with Columbia Studios.
2. Before Gilda, Rita Hayworth was known for her skills as a dancer on screen.
Cansino started dancing professionally as her father’s partner at age 12. When she was signed to Columbia, she danced opposite big names like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly (and is noted for being the first of only six women to do so). Later, when Fred Astaire was asked who his favorite dance partner was, he was hesitant to admit it was Rita Hayworth.
3. Someone attempted to name a bomb "Rita Hayworth," and that really pissed Rita off.
The release of Gilda immediately followed the end of World War II and the beginning of a new age of weaponry. Scientists continued to test atomic science throughout the 1940s, and one bomb tested at Bikini Atoll reportedly was painted with Hayworth’s face and was nicknamed Gilda. Rita Hayworth was furious, and wanted to go to DC to hold a press conference, but was convinced not to so as not to seem unpatriotic.
4. Gilda has been selected for preservation by the US National Film Registry.
In 2013, the Library of Congress opted to preserve Gilda for its top-notch representation of the film noir genre, which characterized the 1940s.
5. Jean Louis, head costume designer for Gilda, also designed the gown worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy.
Louis began his career designing for major fashion houses and later went on to work for both Columbia and Universal studios. Besides the collection from Gilda, he also designed the personal wardrobes of Kim Novak, Doris Day, and Lana Turner. These costumes looked especially glamorous within the context of the fabric-rationing during World War II.
6. The iconic strapless black satin dress Gilda wears while singing “Put the Blame on Mame” is inspired by John Singer Sargent’s famous painting Madame X.
When Jean Louis was asked to explain how the dress held up despite gravity, he replied, “Inside there was a harness like you put on a horse. Then we molded plastic softened over a gas flame and shaped around the top of the dress.”
. Co-star Glenn Ford (who plays Johnny Farrell), later confessed his own love to Rita Hayworth years after the movie was released.
***Editor's note: how could he not tho?
8. At the time of filming, Hayworth had just given birth to her first child Rebecca Jean.
Louis notes that the costuming crew had to work around her post-pregnancy belly, but we choose to applaud Hayworth's post-pregnancy bod for what it represents—a badass woman managing to balance a career with motherhood, all while reclaiming her sexuality.
We’ll always remember you, Rita.
Come out to see "GILDA" on the big screen with us! On Sept. 23, we'll be joining the Bullock Museum to debut their new Femme Film Fridays, a film series highlighting the cinematic works of women, both behind and in front of the camera.
Included with your ticket is a 6:00 p.m. welcoming reception with a cash bar and a Q&A with Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle and Kathy Fuller-Seeley from the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-TV-Film department.