Rita’s talent

Lately I’ve been listening to several Hollywood gossip columns in my OTR bedtime list. The available selection is extremely sparse, only about a dozen altogether. Most are Louella Parsons, with a couple from Erskine Johnson and Nancy Terry. The dates range from ’46 through ’54.

Nearly all have one common factor: Rita Hayworth. She was constantly getting in trouble with the studios by marrying unacceptable men or rebelling against directors. The studios were always cancelling her and she was always begging to come back.

She was unquestionably sexy. I don’t know if she was an outstanding actress; can’t judge those skills. Her unique talent was on the cancel stage, not the sound stage. She knew how to keep the media and listeners on the edge of their seats, waiting in breathless suspense for the next bad marriage, the next rebellion, the next petition for forgiveness.

We have lots of Ritas now. There’s one important difference. The modern cancelleds are basically Establishment figures who get fired for a variety of reasons, and manage to portray the reasons as heresy. This may be true in some cases, but there’s almost always a personality clash behind such firings. The modern Ritas don’t publicly beg for forgiveness. Instead, their performance on the cancel stage is an audition for returning to the sound stage.

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Synchronicity. Speaking of Rita, Vintage.es has some pix of Rita “skiing” with Errol Flynn. The 1940 casual styles, both male and female, are identical to today’s styles. Nothing in the pix would be out of place now.

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