Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rita Hayworth: Down To Earth

Glamorous, Beautiful Rita

The Goddess of Dance Comes Down to Earth

Once upon a time a goddess came down to earth and I went to see her. It's true! Well, Rita Hayworth was the goddess and it was my favorite movie of all time, called "Down To Earth," costarring Larry Parks. She played the Goddess Terpsichore (Goddess of Dance) in this musical comedy and first mysteriously appeared onstage at rehearsal. She immediately attracts the attention of Danny Miller (Larry Parks,) who is the producer/director of the play. He is entranced with her beauty and her dancing and puts her in the starring role, even though it meant taking another girl out of the spot.

Terpsichore Persuades Danny

As the movie progresses, Danny is smitten with her, not knowing that she is actually a Goddess who has persuaded the other Gods to allow her to "fix" his play. He had the Muses (of which Terpsichore is but one) appearing as loose women who are fighting for the attention of two Air Force pilots who crashed on a mountain where the Gods live. This angers Terpsichore because not only are the muses depicted in what she considers a derogatory manner, but even the name of the mountain where the Gods live is wrong. She decides to teach these humans a lesson, hence her reason for appearing on earth. She proceeds to persuade Danny to change the play into a classical ballet, instead of a comedy. She wants to show this good looking man the correct way to portray the muses and herself, which changes the focus of the play entirely.

Terpsichore falls in love.

Once she is put in the starring role, she suggests changes to the play that will better depict the dignity and beauty of the Muses. Because Danny is enamored of her, he allows them to be made. However, the play is a flop with human audiences, who want to see something fun, carefree and entertaining. When the play goes belly-up, Danny Miller's life is at risk from gangsters who have helped fund the play. Terpsichore finds this out, and upon realizing that she has fallen in love with Danny, she helps to put the play back to the original fun comedy, saving the play and Danny's life.

She begs to stay on earth.

Because of her love for Danny, she begs to be allowed to stay on earth. But Mr. Jordan, her handler, says it is not possible. She must return to Mt. Helicon, where the Gods actually live. She understands though she isn't happy about it. After that she becomes invisible to everyone and sees that Danny manages his life without her, though he's sad and misses her. Because of her obedience, Mr. Jordan tells her they will meet again, and he gives her a preview of their meeting in a new life. This comforts her as she knows they will eventually be together again.

A bit of trivia regarding this movie.

In 1980, a movie called Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck was inspired and based on the 1947 movie Down to Earth.

The Goddess Comes "Down To Earth."

What Price Glamor?

Rita Hayworth Was Hollywood Glamor Personified

Rita was a treasured pinup girl during WWII, and any movie with Hayworth in it was guaranteed box office gold. She was probably one of the only glamor girls that not only appealed to men, but also to the women. Guys loved her, gals wanted to be like her. Ironically, her hair style was emulated by women the world over. The hair and its style was not natural since Rita was naturally dark-haired and of Spanish origin, born Rita Cansino. Studio Boss Harry Cohn and her then-husband Edward Johnson, had electrolysis done on her hairline because they felt her original hairline looked "too Latin." In addition to that, they had her hair dyed dark red to go with the personality they felt she should have. It all went into making the star that became Rita Hayworth. Rita was used to men making decisions for her, since her father Eduardo Cansino had always done so until then.

 You Were Never Lovelier


Hayworth and Astaire

Rita Hayworth made two films as dancing partner to Fred Astaire. "You'll Never Get Rich," in 1941 and "You Were Never Lovelier," in 1942, both romantic musical comedies. Hayworth was a dancer in her own right, having grown up as the daughter of two dancers. She began dance lessons, as she said, "as soon as I could stand on my own two feet." Those lessons continued through the years until the family moved to Hollywood in 1927, establishing a dance studio. Rita and her father danced at area clubs and she was spotted dancing by the head of Fox Film Corporation, Winfield Sheehan. He felt she could be a star and arranged for a screen test. From that to dancing with Fred Astaire, what a leap!

Rita and Fred

Rita,  in video below, dancing as Terpsichore in "Down To Earth."

Watch her dance as Terpsichore. She was one of the best dancers of the era, because she was a professional dancer before becoming a film star.



 Rita Hayworth, 1977, Accepting An Award

National Screen Heritage Award - 1977

Hayworth was honored in 1977 with the National Screen Heritage Award presented at the National Film Society convention. In less than 10 years, on May 14, 1987 she died from complications of Alzheimer's Disease. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA. In 1999, she was included as one of American Film Institute's Greatest Stars of All Time.


"Rita Hayworth was one of our country's most beloved stars. Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments on stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. Rita became known for her struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Her courage and candor, and that of her family, were a great public service in bringing world wide attention to a disease which we all hope will soon be cured. Nancy and I are saddened by Rita's death. She was a friend who we will miss."
— Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, 1987

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