Title To Happiness—Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth has changed. Inevitably! Her marriage to Prince Aly Khan introduced her to a life of great luxury. She now moves in the best circles of European society. She is the mother of a beautiful little princess. And daily she is exposed to her husband’s man-of-the-world wit and charm.
However, the change in Rita is not the change you might expect. She hasn’t gone chi chi. Oh, she talks with a beautifully clipped English diction that is reminiscent of Aly’s speech. And she has more sophisticated tastes and greater discernment than before. But essentially, she’s a far simpler woman than she used to be, a happier woman, too.
I don’t think Rita ever was cut out to be a career girl. She had a living to earn and she earned it in the only way she knew; by dancing and by acting. The more success she attained, the more responsibilities she had to assume and the harder she had to work and neither of her previous marriages offered her any escape from this pattern.
Now it is different.
“If I find a story I like, I will make another picture,” she told me, “perhaps in Hollywood, perhaps here in Europe.” Her happy smile contradicted all the ominous items that have appeared in the gossip columns. “I have quite a big family now, Elsa. And I find that to be a good mother and wife is a full-time job, which I love.”
At Gstaad, in Switzerland, where Rita and Aly spent the winter, she was content and happy with her quiet life in the chalet with its many windows curtained in starched white, the laundry dancing gaily in the wind and sunshine and the big pile of wood at the door for the fireplaces.
It delights Rita that Rebecca loves Jasmine so dearly. She laughs when Rebecca must show visitors how oddly Jasmine is dressed under her white woolen knitted dress, wearing diapers!
Rebecca is a serious child, much like Orson Welles, her father. But she is happy, too, with a five-year-old toothless smile that comes most quickly at the sight of her mother. During the five weeks at Gstaad when Aly was hospitalized after his skiing accident, Rita drove to see him several times a day. Between times, she and Rebecca went on walks, gathered flowers for the house and turned their luncheons and tea times into parties at which they played “two girls.”
Rita’s clothes both at Gstaad and Cannes are simple; slacks, sport coats and sport caps and sweaters. But with her red-gold hair thick and half-long, and her skin tanned by the good Swiss mountain air and sun, she wears a radiant look, young and healthy.
Also, it is a flattering thing for a woman to be in love. And Rita adores her charming, witty husband. Whatever he wants, she wants. She has perfected her French because it is his favorite language. She has learned about horses, will spend this summer racing her stable, because with Aly horses are a passion. She is improving her golf so she will be a better partner.
“Madame,” the servants call her, and the grocer and mailman who serve the house. It is only when she is asked for, or spoken of, that she is referred to as “princess.”
The family made the move from Gstaad to Cannes by plane; Aly on a stretcher. Now, at the Chateau de l’Horizon, Aly spends his days in the sun on the terrace. And Rita continually runs to his lounge; between her household duties, following her golf lesson, after her marketing excursion into the town. Often she brings Jasmine to him. He is bewitched by his beautiful daughter with her fair skin, big hazel eyes and brown hair. But, again and again, with paternal pride, he points out that she has his short nose.
Not that Aly is lonely on his terrace; only fed up with his enforced inactivity. His sons and their tutor are with him. The Aga Khan calls everyday to see him and Jasmine to whom he is devoted and whom he thinks the most beautiful of babies. Friends call, too. It is an unusual day when six or eight guests do not sit down to luncheon; French generals, sportsmen, friends from Hollywood.
Rita is quietly equal to all this. But then her manners always have been excellent. From the day she married Aly, instead of acting upstage and silly, she has conducted herself with the natural simplicity and poise that is supposed to be the special birthright of princesses.
I long will remember an evening at the Chatelet, shortly after Rita and Aly were married, when a great benefit was given for the members of the Legion of Honour. Rita and Aly, who had the loge adjoining that of President Auriol, asked me to be their guest. Never have I seen so many men covered with so many decorations and Grand Cordons of the Legion. My little decoration looked exceedingly small by comparison. Still, I was proud to be the only woman there who wore one.
It was a brilliant scene; reminded me of “The Merry Widow.” And later, M. Auriol invited us to the little anteroom behind his presidential loge for champagne. I drank to the health and safety of France. And the President, responding, drank to the health and safety of America. Then, before his eminent guests, he lifted his glass to toast Rita. I may be a sentimental idiot but I found myself moved that this little Hollywood girl, who, a handful of years ago had been an unknown dancer, should be so equal to this occasion.
They talk now, Rita and Aly, of remaining indefinitely at the chateau. Which is understandable. Aly has many houses all over the British Isles and Europe, including the house in Ireland he just bought, complete with a ghost, but this is the house they think of as home. Here Aly’s famous paintings by Dufy and Renoir and Utrillo hang in the main room which they call the studio. It is a very large room with the sofas at the fireplace and many of the deep chairs done in yellow satin, with an Aubusson carpet handwoven in a light bright green with a yellow floral design. Fresh flowers are arranged everywhere. And the French windows open to the terrace which overlooks the curving coastline and the Mediterranean. It is in the big entrance hall here that Aly has hung his precious Gobelin tapestries. From this hall, two marble staircases lead to the upper floor of bedrooms and sitting rooms with balconies overlooking the gardens and the sea. The room which Jasmine shares with her nurse has been done in pink.
The gardens at the chateau are lovely, surrounding the pool, cascading down to the sea, lining the half-mile driveway from the entrance of the estate to the house itself, blooming in front of the small houses which shelter the gardening staff and guests.
At the moment there is talk, too, of larger quarters in Paris. Aly’s bachelor pied-a-terre was scarcely big enough when they were bride and groom. I lunched there with them, one day, and Aly complained they were crowded. For their family, now, it is just not big enough. It is this contemplated move, undoubtedly, which gave rise to the rumors that Rita was buying a house in Paris. This, plus the fact that she and Aly decided her house in California should be sold. For even should: they return it would not suit their needs.
Aly, let me make it clear, has no wish to keep Rita off the screen. He adores her as an actress. However, he is in a position to see that she gets a story that suits her. She will make a picture, come autumn, I believe. But I doubt she will do it in Hollywood. She would not leave Aly. His interests are over there. And it will be a simple matter for Harry Cohn and Columbia to arrange for production in Rome or Paris or England.
Rita, it would seem, came into two titles when she married. First—a title of princess. But better still—a title to happiness.
—BY ELSA MAXWELL
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JULY 1950