Rita Hayworth was the epitome of 1940s glamour. A legendary “Love Goddess”, she was a huge box-office star, and her sultry beauty and sensational figure made her into one of Hollywood’s greatest sex-symbols: a pin-up so incendiary that GIs pasted it on to the first atom bomb ever detonated.
Yet behind the smoldering image lay a tragic secret that wrecked her private life. A pathologically shy child, she was thrust at an early age into a sordid limelight as her vaudevillian father’s dancing partner, and suffered sexual and physical abuse at his hands. A desperate need for protection led her into five marriages, including nuptials with Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan. All of them resulted in exploitation and disaster, as did affairs with some of the world’s most glamorous men.