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Being Rita Hayworth: Labor, Identity, and Hollywood Stardom Paperback – 1 Apr 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813533899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813533896
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,026,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"McLean's argument is complex, coherent, and eminently readable. Through meticulous research, she productively opens up the notion of star as worker."

About the Author

Adrienne L. McLean is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is also the author of Dying Swans and Madmen and the co-editor of Headline Hollywood: A Century of Film Scandal.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, thought provoking... 7 Dec. 2008
By Marcco99 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not your typical celebrity biography.

Author Adrienne L. McLean is a film scholar from the University of Texas at Dallas, and on the back cover of the book it says FILM/WOMEN'S STUDIES, with review quotes from other members of academia from across the country... so I would hazard to guess that this book --and, I find, many others offered here at Amazon-- are in depth studies by scholars for students studying film, film theory,etc. Thanx Amazon for offering these types of books to the public at large.

That being said, McLean approaches Rita Hayworth's career from a feminist perspective... how does a woman navigate "Superstardom", balance that with a full domestic life with a husband and children, while, at the same time, being boxed in by a society who sees her value only in being a "Beautiful Woman"? (As a lifelong fan of Hayworth's I admit to "boxing her in" myself, and I've made Sony VERY HAPPY buying Hayworth videos & dvds over the years.)

In six different chapters here, McLean analyzes several aspects of Rita's life and career...Rita's need to distance herself from the "the dark Spanish stereotype" Hollywood had placed her in early on to move up the ladder... her transformation (including the raising of her hairline to give herself a more elegant brow) into an "All American Girl" as she rose to top stardom.... how this transformation from Margarita Cansino to "Rita Hayworth" was recounted time and again in almost every newspaper and magazine article newsmen wrote on Hayworth throughout her career.
(That the public knew her real name and her early beginnings as a Spanish dancer with her father's company is not so amazing to me, I'm positive the real name and humble origins of MOST stars were known to the public thru the media, it made good copy).

McLean notes that Hayworth was quite proud of her Spanish-gypsy heritage, and by her successful integration of her anglo/ethnic heritage, she was able to transcend the "Spanish stereotype" of a Carmen Miranda or a Lupe Velez and present the public with a new, unique Spanish-All-American persona all her own. Interesting.

McLean also looks at Hayworth's domestic life, and it's sad that Hayworth seemed to fail here.... Hayworth, married five times, walked away from her lucrative career TWICE -- from 1948 to 1952, then again from 1953 to 1957 -- each time for a new marriage. It is quite obvious that Rita would have retired from the screen entirely had she found the RIGHT husband, but the men (Judson, Welles, Khan, Haymes, and Hill) found RITA HAYWORTH (the clout, the prestige, the power of that persona) irresistable and each, in his way, used that (and Margarita herself) for their own ends.

McLean further studies that persona by comparing the films GILDA 1946 and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI 1948, a film she does not like (reading this section made me ponder: did husband Orson Welles -on some deep level- purposely try to destroy Hayworth's image in this film because at this point, commercially, she was on SUCH A HIGH AND A BIGGER STAR THAN HE?) McLean makes another interesting case here of Welles attempt at totally de-constructing Rita's GILDA image with his "Elsa Bannister".... yes I believe Welles enjoyed being subversive and he WAS wasteful & self-destructive, but could he go THIS FAR?

Finally, and this was most enjoyable part of the book for me, an in-depth analysis of Rita Hayworth the dancer. McLean gives Hayworth credit for her amazing abilities as a dancer, pointing out that in this ONE aspect of her career, Rita had total control -thru her movement in the dance- to create, to express herself, and to be free....NO WONDER SHE WAS SO FANTASTIC AT IT.... the dancing is totally Rita's spirit, Rita's voice. Another point I never really considered.

McLean also points out how an exceptional FEMALE dancer like Hayworth or Eleanor Powell was never given the acclaim or held in as high a regard by critics as a MALE dancer like Astaire or Kelly, and that it was mainly the MALE critics of the time who described/critiqued the women dancers by their looks first, not their abilities.

McLean also does an in-depth study of Hayworth's earthy dances in 1952's AFFAIR IN TRINIDAD, choreographed by Valerie Bettis. She greatly admires this collabaration of Bettis and Hayworth, and tracks down and quotes a number of articles Bettis gave over the years about this film and about dancing in general. Quite enjoyable.

McLean is at all times a sympathetic advocate for Hayworth and, being the scholar she is, her ideas are backed up with thorough research and footnotes. As a Hayworth fan I enjoyed the wealth of new information provided and found myself always challenged by McLean's views, insights and perspectives.

There's much more I haven't covered...I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book for Hayworth fans, whom I'm sure will savor this refreshing take on Hayworth's life and career..... yes, the book is at times highly technical in it's wording, and there's so much here to ponder... it's not an easy read... you won't finish this book in one sitting..... but if you already own books on Hayworth, you'll quickly see that this one goes beyond & beneath the standard facts of Rita's life and career... "Being Rita..." will be a great addition to your Hayworth library.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Exploring the creation of this popular movie star's persona 12 Jan. 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
Being Rita Hayworth: Labor, Identity And Hollywood Stardom by Adrienne L. McLean (Assistant Professor of Film Studies, University of Texas-Dallas) strives to answer the question "Who was Rita Hayworth?" Exploring the creation of this popular movie star's persona, beloved in movies such as "The Lady from Shanghai" (1948) and "Affair in Trinidad" (1952), Being Rita Hayworth takes an especial interest in her appeal to other women of the day who were struggling to navigate the demands of family and work outside the home. Careful research of Hayworth's life frames the chapters, which meticulously pick apart fabricated image and propaganda from what can be verified as truth. An excellent read for anyone with an especial interest in not only Hayworth's career, but the ripple effect her star persona had on the hearts and minds of a female generation.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Rita Hayworth Movie Star 21 Dec. 2007
By Ms. Tameiko Armstrong - Published on
Format: Paperback
Having been an avid reader of Golden Years Movie stars biographies & autobiographies for a long time, I was a bit disappointed with this one.
Particularly as recent reads include, Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor & Lauren Bacall ....
If you are studying film and theatre studies, this is actually a great book for you, but it was a bit more technical than I wanted ...
I persevered for awhile, but have put it aside to read Lana Turners biography instead.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
We don't hear much about the troubled life of Rita Hayworth 30 Oct. 2013
By Judy Wempe - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Much detailed love life and husbands, but not really a personal look at her life from her prospective. I was looking for a biography and this focused more about cicumstances surrounding her career and love life. No quotes from her daughters or hose closest to her. I think she is a beautiful, talented star who was somewhat overlooked in her day. If you are a fan, it would be interesting reading.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Did not make a great deal of sense 6 Sept. 2014
By Sid B. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a rambling monologue on female physcology. Did not make a great deal of sense. Definitely not your average biography.
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