Art and Life: Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth Video (DVD)
Two extraordinary people living extraordinary lives are documented in the video Art and Life: Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth (DVD). Part of a series observing the entanglements of life and career in Hollywood, this video looks at the career of two of the brightest stars in the years around World War II. Welles began in the theater, working for the Federal Theater Project in the post-Depression years, producing some politically charged plays. However, his 1938 radio play brought the attention of Hollywood. The War of the Worlds caused a panic across the nation, as many believed his verite version of H.G. Wells novel had people believing the Earth was under attack. Three years later, Welles made Citizen Kane, a film many believe to be one of the greatest cinematic works of all time.
Hayworth was the daughter of a Spanish immigrant and professional dancer who tried to find wealth in the movie industry. Hayworth, born Margarita Cansino, found work in film as an adult. Her star rose at around the same time as Welles’ did. At the beginning of World War II, she was a pinup favorite for nearly every G.I.
Welles and Hayworth met during one of Welles’ productions, a 1943 variety show meant as a morale boost for US soldiers. They had, by all reports, a tempestuous relationship, with both suffering infidelities and separated by their work. They did work together on one film, the 1947 film The Lady of Shanghai, and worked together to produce a daughter in 1944.
The video documents their youth and beginnings in the entertainment industry, their relationship and their divorce in 1947. Orson had said of Rita that she is “one of the dearest and sweetest women that ever lived.” (27 minutes, color and b&w)