Margarita Carmen Cansino was born in Brooklyn, New York on 17 October 1918 to her parents, Eduardo Cansino and Volga Hayworth. She was the first born child and would soon be followed by her brothers, Eduardo Jr (1919) and Vernon (1922). The family moved to Manhattan soon after she was born, and only stayed there a short while until they later moved to Los Angeles.
Margarita was born into a show business family, with her father being a Spanish dancer and her mother a Ziegfield Follies girl. Eduardo had Margarita in dance lessons at an early age, and while she hid it well, she did not enjoy dancing. By the age of 12, she was already a part of her father's stage act, which brought her to the attention of Twentieth Century Fox head, Winfield R. Sheehan. This would lead to her first studio contract at 16.
Her first roles were billed as Rita Cansino, until she married her first husband, Eddie Judson in 1937. He immediately convinced her to change her screen name to Rita Hayworth, taking on her mother's maiden name. Eddie and Rita were together less than 6 years before trouble began in their marriage. Judson was more than twice her age when they married and according to Rita, was a cruel man. He appears to have bullied her out of all her money and possessions, as she left the marriage in 1942 penniless.
By 1943, she married Orson Wells and considered him to be the love of her live. They even had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1944. But Wells was not interested in settling down into home life, and their wants and needs in the relationship clashed badly. By 1947, she was granted a divorce.
But by 1948, she took a break from the movies to begin a relationship with Prince Aly Salman Aga Khan. They were married in 1949. The Prince was a Muslim and the son of a respected Imam. Rita considered converting to the Muslim religion, but apparently never did. They had a daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, in 1949. Their difference in which religion to raise their child in seemed to cause a rift, and by 1951, they were divorced.
In 1953, she married Dick Haymes, a popular singer. He was deeply in debt to the IRS and his ex-wives, and this created tremendous money problems for the couple which lead to their divorce in 1955. She moved on from him to producer James Hill, whom she married in 1958. Their relationship was turbulent, and they divorced by 1961, with Rita claiming extreme mental cruelty. Rumor had it that he wanted her to keep making films while she wanted to stop, but it was never confirmed.
Without support from a husband and her ex-husbands failing to pay child support, she continued on in her career. By 1972 she was still struggling with money troubles and her long-standing struggles with alcoholism. She was showing signs of stress, having wild mood swings on the set and in her personal life. It was only later that others began to note the possibility of the early signs of Alzheimer's Disease.
By 1981, she was publicly diagnosed and a Los Angeles judge placed her under the care of her daughter, Yasmin. Yasmin cared for her mother for another 6 years, her condition deteriorating day by day until she passed away at the age of 68 in 1987. She was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJBW-WDV : accessed 12 January 2017), Margareta Cansino in household of Eduardo Cansino, Manhattan Assembly District 11, New York, New York, United States; citing ED 816, sheet 10B, line 91, family 274, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1204; FHL microfilm 1,821,204.
"New York State Census, 1925," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KSCG-5BP : 8 November 2014), Margarita Cansino, New York, A.D. 03, E.D. 05, Queens, New York, United States; records extracted by Ancestry and images digitized by FamilySearch; citing p. 14, line 12, New York State Archives, Albany.
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCVQ-SCH : accessed 12 January 2017), Margarita Cansino in household of Edwardo Cansino, Los Angeles (Districts 0001-0250), Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 125, sheet 4B, line 59, family 239, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 137; FHL microfilm 2,339,872.
"Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV98-429T : 30 December 2014), Rita Hayworth, 1953; citing Ship , NARA microfilm publication A3422 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
"New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2H88-VHZ : 3 October 2015), Rita Haymes Hayworth, 1956; citing Immigration, New York City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
"Brasil, Cartões de Imigração, 1900-1965," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCXQ-67V : 1 December 2015), Rita Hayworth Hill, Immigration; citing 1962, Arquivo Nacional, Rio de Janeiro (National Archives, Rio de Janeiro).
"United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVP2-Y6GZ : 12 September 2016), Princess Margarita Carmen Dolores Or Rita Hayworth Or Cansino, Albany, New York, United States, 16 May 1987; from "Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 - Today)," database, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : 2014); citing Times Union, The, born-digital text.
"United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV5Q-WNX4 : 10 September 2016), Rita Or Margarita Carmen Hayworth Or Cansino, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States, 16 May 1987; from "Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 - Today)," database, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : 2014); citing , born-digital text.