Seventy years before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry another actress became Hollywood's first real life Princess. Her name was Rita Hayworth and she was one of the most popular movie stars in the world. Like Meghan she gave up her career and moved half way around the world to marry her Prince. Unfortunately Rita's royal marriage turned out to be a nightmare instead of a fairy tale.
She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York. Her Spanish father Eduardo was a dance instructor and she began dancing with him when she was child. They performed in Mexican bars and casinos as "The Dancing Cansinos". Twelve year old Rita was dressed in sexy costumes and Eduardo called her his "wife". During this time her father began sexually abusing her. In 1935 she made her film debut in Dante's Inferno using the screen name Rita Cansino. She had small parts in Paddy O'Day and Charlie Chan In Egypt. When she was eighteen she escaped her father by marrying her older manager Edward Judson. Unfortunately he spent her money and encouraged her to sleep with powerful producers. Her career finally took off when she signed a seven year contract with Columbia pictures in 1940. The first thing the studio did was dye her red and lifted her hairline with electrolysis.
She starred in a string of hits including Cover Girl ,You Were Never Lovelier, and Blood And Sand. The stunning redhead became a popular World War 2 pin up and was nicknamed "The Love Goddess". She actually hated her image as a sexy symbol and said all she really wanted was true love. Among her many lovers were Victor Mature, Glenn Ford, Gary Merrill, and Frank Langella. After divorcing Judson she married director Orson Welles in 1943. The following year they had a daughter named Rebecca. Her biggest success came when she played a seductive femme-fatale in the 1946 drama Gilda. She became one of the top box-office attractions in the world. Orson directed her in the film-noir The Lady from Shanghai. As a publicity stunt he made her cut her long hair and dye it blonde. The movie bombed and their marriage ended in 1947. She started dating billionaire Howard Hughes and got pregnant. Rita had an abortion when he refused to marry her. Soon after she was introduced to Prince Aly Khan, one of the wealthiest men in the world, by gossip columnist Elsa Maxwell.
Princess Rita Hayworth was the original Duchess Meghan Markle