Rita Hayworth’s Ethnicity and Ancestry

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Was she Mexican? Spanish? Jewish? White? Latina?

There is confusion about Rita Hayworth’s heritage and ethnicity. This is partly because of her complexion, hair color, work location, employment, and name change.

She was born in New York but worked in Mexico as a dancer while a teenager. She wasn’t actually living in Mexico; she used to commute to work from the Unites States.

Mexicans, however, thought she was Mexican. She did Spanish dancing and had dark brown hair which was almost black. When she first became an actress she looked Mexican and casting directors chose her to play Mexicans in movies. Given the birth name Margarita Cansino, she used that for her early movies but like many actresses she eventually changed her name.

Hayworth’s father Eduardo Cansino lived in the United States and her grandfather lived in Madrid, Spain. She therefore has Spanish roots.

Her mother was Irish; her maiden name was Haworth; Rita used that and added the “y” to form her screen name.

Rita was not Mexican but she has been called a Latina because of her Hispanic or Spanish ancestry.

Spanish-Mexican confusion is not uncommon among some actresses today. For example, Penelope Cruz is Spanish; whereas her close friend Salma Hayek is Mexican.

Some people have suggested Hayworth was Jewish. There may be traces of Jewish blood in her ancestry, but she was not a practising Jew; she was raised Catholic.

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