What Was The Last Movie Rita Hayworth Starred In Before She Died?

Rita Hayworth was one of classic Hollywood's biggest stars, appearing in nearly 20 films in the 1940s alone. Her talent, glamour and allure as a leading lady radiated off the silver screen to influence wider American culture — so much so that a photo of her from "Life Magazine" was a popular pin-up for soldiers overseas during World War II (via CR Fashion Book).

Hayworth was born in Brooklyn as Margarita Cansino, but changed her "ethnic"-sounding surname to her mother's maiden name in a bid to secure jobs with the film industry's major studios, like her eventual employer Columbia Pictures. During the height of her career, she entered Hollywood royalty with her short-lived marriage to Orson Welles, and passed into legitimate royalty with her subsequent marriage to Prince Aly Khan. However, after the 1950s, multiple health problems hampered her continued success, and her last film role was in 1972 — more than 15 years before she died.

'The Wrath of God'

Rita Hayworth made her biggest statement as an actress in 1946's "Gilda," where she played the flirtatious wife of a powerful casino owner. But Hayworth herself was apparently a quiet and shy individual. IMDb quotes the actress — from her 1977 biography "Portrait of a Love Goddess" by John Kobal — as saying, "Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me."

Turning on the charm became even harder for Hayworth when alcoholism and Alzheimer's disease threatened and eventually ended her career. CR Fashion Book wrote that by the 1960s she was forgetting her lines during shoots. Her final appearance came in 1972 with the film "The Wrath of God," a Western that also starred Robert Mitchum and Frank Langella. There, she played the mother of a rebel leader in a war-torn Central American country. However, filming was difficult for her. Hayworth's memory was so unreliable in "The Wrath of God" that she could only get through one line each take.


Rita Hayworth's death from Alzheimer's in 1987 completely changed the public perception of the disease. Much like fellow Hollywood star Rock Hudson's AIDS diagnosis, Hayworth's struggle brought new attention and research funding to the illness. According to the LA Times, she was misdiagnosed for years, which lead to embarrassing public outbursts and confusion for the actress as friends took her to parties and other events unaware of her condition. Her daughter Princess Yasmin took care of her in New York until her death.

On May 15, 1987, then-president Ronald Reagan, himself a Hollywood contemporary of Hayworth, made an official statement on her death from Alzheimer's. "Rita Hayworth was one of our country's most beloved stars," he said, according to the Reagan Library. "Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments on stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. ... Her courage and candor, and that of her family, were a great public service in bringing worldwide attention to a disease which we all hope will soon be cured."