One of my favourite Hollywood stars, Rita Hayworth, was born on this day in 1918. Hollywood’s ‘love goddess’ also starred in a 1953 musical remake of Rain, entitled Miss Sadie Thompson. In Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, myself and co-author Eric Woodard devoted an entire chapter to the actresses who followed in Sadie’s footsteps.
Rita would have been almost twelve years old when Jeanne died. In an interview with John Kobal for his book, Rita Hayworth – The Time, the Place, the Woman (1977), she recalled enjoying Eagels’ movies as a child.
I was eight when we moved to Los Angeles. My father had a [dance] studio on Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard. After my classes were over I had to take care of my two brothers because my family was working. So we used to go to the movies. We’d go to the Iris Theatre where they had all the silent movies, because it cost so little – ten cents for kids – and I used to take them and we’d sit there for hours. I liked Jeanne Eagels and Ruth Chatterton, and all of those people. I always wanted to stay longer but Vernon and Eddie got angry because they wanted to leave when they got tired of that stuff…
Incidentally, Ruth Chatterton – Rita’s other idol – would replace Jeanne Eagels in her last film, The Laughing Lady, after the actress became fatally ill.
As I revealed in an article earlier this year, there also striking parallels between Rita’s career and that of another screen beauty, Marilyn Monroe, whose own dream of playing Sadie Thompson would never be fulfilled.