Rita Hayworth Rarin’ To Go!
When she came back to Hollywood there was much speculation about what man would take over Rita’s life, and when he’d start. Nightclub owners got their best table linen ready, gossip columnists sharpened their pencils and everybody waited for the fun to begin. But Rita fooled them all. She hardly went anywhere, and the only people she played with were her two daughters.
She still doesn’t go anywhere, still plays with the girls, but it looks as if Rita’s about ready to come out of her shell, because by the time you read this her divorce from Aly Khan may be final and Rita, who is one of the most glamorous women in Hollywood, won’t let that glamor go to waste. Meanwhile, she’s biding her time and settling into a home truly fit for a princess with room enough for her entire court.
Her house, high on Alpine Drive in Beverly Hills, isn’t the same one she left three years ago, but it bears her label. She’s taken her personal belongings out of storage, unpacked her favorite books and treasured collection of French, Spanish, English and Italian recordings; she’s uncrated her silver, her valuable oil paintings and installed them all in her newly-acquired, pale green Spanish mansion.
Situated on a bluff overlooking a heavily wooded ravine, the mansion has a remote and elegant beauty. There are no close neighbors, no sound of auto traffic. The rest of the world seems very far away until you step onto the terrace and look down on the heart of Beverly Hills.
A short distance from the house is a swimming pool surrounded by a lovely garden that glows softly at night with a myriad of hidden lights.
And yet for all its seclusion, Rita’s house is only a few minutes’ drive to Columbia Studios. “I’m a working girl again,” she says, “and I like to be near my work.”
Rita’s discovery of this hideaway is typical of her impulsive nature. One minute she was living quite comfortably in a swank bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the next she was burning to get out, She was sun-bathing in her private little patio at the hotel when she suddenly decided that hotel living was not for her. She jumped up from her chaise longue and began to call for her secretary Maggie Parker.
Maggie came running.
“We’ve just got to get out of here,” Rita began. “It’s very lovely and all of that but . . .”
“But what?” Maggie asked.
“But I don’t feel at home. I can’t raid the ice box. I can’t walk around in jeans. People keep staring at me. And it’s not right for the children, especially Becky. She’s lived in too many hotels already.”
In a week’s time, Maggie had scouted all the available large homes in or near Hollywood. She narrowed her choice down to one and then called Rita.
“I went up on a Sunday,” Rita recalls, “and I saw this house at the top of Alpine Drive. It looked exactly right from the outside, but I wondered if the inside would have enough space for my staff.” Rita always needs quarters for a cook, for Suzanne, the personal maid who came back with her from France, and for Domingo, the Philippine butler who’s run all of her homes and a good share of her life for the past eight years. Rita also needs space and privacy for herself and her two daughters and nurse.
The guest bedroom and bath on the first floor, Rita decided, would be perfect for two-year-old Yasmine and her nurse, Anne. These rooms are removed from the rest of the household, and near the kitchen which is important because Yasmine is still on an infant’s sleeping and feeding schedule.
Upstairs the master bedroom looks out onto hills and trees and sky. “Right off,” Rita says, “it seemed the kind of room that would make me feel happy in the morning and relaxed at night. In fact, as soon as I saw it, I was ready to write out a check.” But common ‘sense held Rita back, and she continued her inspection.
Next to the master bedroom is a mirrored dressing room. No matter what you’ve heard, Rita Hayworth is not overly pre-occupied with clothes and high fashion. However, her position calls for a large wardrobe, and when she saw the roomy closet space, she knew that the new batch of custom-made clothes she’d ordered from Joseph Halpert in New York would hang very well there.
When Rita was shown a gay, young room with rose bedecked wallpaper, four poster bed, and organdy-skirted vanity table, she immediately pictured her seven-year-old Rebecca in it.
Before she decided to take the house, though, Rita turned to Maggie and said, “Be sure to have Domingo put his okay on all this.” And she waved her hand in the general direction of the dining room, butler’s pantry, and kitchen.
Domingo knows more about Rita Hayworth than anyone living. He knows her moods, her tastes, her preferences in food and men. He is also a natural diplomat.
A few weeks ago, for example, a local Romeo phoned, trying to date his employer. Rita has no use for this particular wolf, and Domingo knows it, but this is what he said over the phone. “Oh, yes, Mr. H., Miss Hayworth very anxious to see you but she gone out of town for few days. Know you will understand, of course.”
Rita was in the living room, sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace, listening to records.
Domingo always makes it a point to have a favorite Hayworth record on the machine when she steps-in the front door. He also lavishes great care on the flower arrangements throughout the house.
Rita loves to drive, but she doesn’t own a car, so Domingo lets her borrow his Buick whenever she’s in the mood.
A nice guy this Domingo, a jack-of-all-trades whom Rita treats as another brother. She does have two brothers—Vernon and Ed—who usually visit her on Sundays. This, by the way, gives the lie to the rumor that ever since her marriage to Aly Khan, Rita has neglected her family. Rita has always been loyal to her clan.
On a typical Sunday, the Cansinos gather early at Rita’s place. Her father Eduardo and her stepmother, are usually the first to arrive. They come for coffee and a perusal of the morning papers. Then Vernon, Ed, their wives, and Ed’s two children drive up.
Next comes Aunt Rosser, a dowager great aunt who prefers to stay for the weekend. On especially fine Sundays, Padre Cansino, Rita’s 80-year-old grandfather, comes, too—so it’s quite a gathering.
The Cansinos are all individualists, each doing what he likes best—reading, painting, music, and dancing. Last Christmas, brother Ed gave Rita an easel and a set of paints. At the same time, Charley Feldman, one of Hollywood’s top talent agents and a very romantic figure, gifted her with an oil painting by Marc Chagall.
Combining these two gifts, Rita borrowed one of Domingo’s white coats and began painting copies of Chagall grapes like mad.
Her pre-occupation with art, in fact, has spread to Becky and other members of the household so that the mansion is becoming a refuge for growing artists.
“It’s a good thing,” Rita says, “having the family enjoy hobbies together. It makes for family solidarity, and that’s really important to children. I know.”
Once Domingo had okayed the kitchen facilities, Rita moved her children and staff into the Alpine House and promptly announced that the same routine would be practiced as in her previous residences. One of these is that on Sundays, no meals at the Hayworth house are eaten at tables. Sunday is the cook’s day off which means that Domingo fixes a large salad and leaves it in the refrigerator with a platter of cold cuts and assorted cheeses.
Anytime a family member gets hungry, he digs into the refrigerator.
Occasionally, for dinner on Sunday nights, Rita will drift into the kitchen and concoct a favorite traditional Spanish dish like arroz con pollo (chicken and rice). She herself: has a stevedore’s appetite, also a cast iron stomach. She can and does eat anything. She will fill up on a heavy meal at eight. By midnight, she is hungry again and tiptoes down to the kitchen where she prepares herself two sandwiches and a glass of milk.
On workingdays, Rita is up at six A.M. long before the children. She eats a hearty breakfast in bed of fruit, bacon, eggs, coffee, and toast.
She is dressed by seven at which time Maggie or Domingo drive her to the studio. She works hard all day and returns home some time after six. No matter what sort of day she’s had at the studio, the minute she hits the front door she radiates nothing but joy. She throws off the old leather jacket she usually wears to the studio, picks up little Yas and tosses her into the air. Then she kisses Becky and rumples her short curly hair.
While Rita eats dinner on a card table in the sun room, her two little daughters chatter madly. Rebecca often likes to read aloud to her mother.
Both of Rita’s daughters are naturally musical, and before Rita finishes dinner, Yas usually turns on the radio, and Becky starts the record player going. There are record players all over the house. Becky, in fact, sleeps with one at her bedside.
Once the music starts, Rita finishes her meal quickly. Sometimes she’ll get her dance drums and beat out a tempo while the little girls dance. Becky is studying ballet with her grandfather and reveals traces of a disciplined technique but little Yas is completely uninhibited.
Presently, Rita herself will reach for her castanets, and mother and daughters will have a musical ball. Eventually, Rita will return to her Conga drum and beating out a rhythm, will lead her dark-eyed offspring to bed.
Then she curls up on a sofa and studies her lines for the next day or she goes upstairs, showers, and dresses for her date.
Rita’s dates have been far and few between. Not that she hasn’t been besieged by dozens of admirers. Poor Domingo is running out of diplomatic alibis. It’s just that she doesn’t want to risk the chance of cultivating a new love until she’s finished with the old.
All sorts of stories have sprung up, of course, about what goes on behind the walls of Rita’s Alpine Drive mansion. One columnist says that Aly Khan has been going in and out of the residence for months, secretly. Another says that Gilbert Roland and Rita dine there quietly each evening away from curious eyes. A third intimates that Charley Feldman is the only suitor who is welcome at all hours.
None of this is true.
Right now, Rita Hayworth’s house is for women. But it needs a.man’s touch and Rita knows it. And someday soon that man along.
—BY MARVA PETERSON
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE JULY 1952