Original publicity photo of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth for film You Were Never Lovelier

You Were Never Lovelier came on Turner Classic Movies some time ago.  I’ve always thought Rita Hayworth was stunning, but I’ve seen far too few of her films (I know).  I hadn’t realized what a gifted dancer she was, or her deft comic timing. Before the Age of the Internet, I would have looked up the film in Leonard Maltin’s movie guide, maybe sought out some of my other movie reference books, and made a mental note to check out a biography of Rita Hayworth in a bookstore or a library.  And I would’ve talked to my folks, too, since they grew up on films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

I remember when she passed away (1987), and I knew she had a sad later life.  Well, now it is the Age of the Internet, and the ‘net is the repository of the world.  I was able to read about the film on IMDB.com and Wikipedia.  Then I was able to read about her entire life, her marriage to Orson Welles (new or refreshed information for me), and her two daughters.   She had a daughter with Welles, Rebecca, and she had another daughter, Princess Yasmin, with Prince Aly Khan.  From all accounts (not just the Internet), there was a fair amount of pain and suffering for all involved. Hayworth had undiagnosed Alzheimer’s for a long while and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan eventually championed Alzheimer’s research.

Hayworth’s eldest daughter had a child out of wedlock, and according to some sources, didn’t allow her daughter to hold the baby at all, who was given up for adoption.  More estrangement and difficulties followed … but the Hayworth’s daughter’s son eventually contacted his birth mother (Prodigal Sons, a film with its own interesting history, gives more information), but they didn’t meet before she died.  Then her birth son died a few years later.  (Princess Yasmin had a son, too, but he died at the age of 25.)

Here’s the really trippy part.  Hayworth’s birth grandson had three children.  Who may very well have kids of their own.   They could be your neighbors or co-workers, and because the Internet is what it is, I imagine that they probably know everything about their lineage.

We live in a strange, weird, tragic, and odd world … and I believe that a real family is the one that cares for you and nurtures you, which appears to be the case with the family that raised Rita Hayworth’s grandson.

But there is one undeniable truth:  there are great-grandchildren and possibly great-great-grandchildren with the DNA of Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles, living ordinary lives like you and me, unconnected from Hollywood.

And I think that is amazing.

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