George Christy Talks About Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Harry Cohn, The amFAR Gala and more!
“Time to see the leaves, it’s that season of the year,” Lucille Ball reminded us before taking off with husband Gary Morton to tour the New England countryside and enjoy the autumn leaves turning into scarlet gold.
Lucy and her mother, Desiree, living in Jamestown, New York, favored road trips during the autumn season to observe the beauty of nature’s autumn palette and she continued the tradition from California.
We were chatting over lunch at her North Roxbury residence in Beverly Hills, a favorite dish being filet of sole.
To know Lucy was to appreciate a magical spirit that filled the air, a personality most endearing.
When Lucy praised the changing colors of the leaves, we were reminded of French author Albert Camus observations, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
This year, Beverly Hills friends booked a Crystal Cruise voyage from Montreal to New York to experience the beauty of this autumn season.
“We were thrilled,” says our friend, “until our return flight from the East to California when our fine luggage was mangled by American Airlines crew. Ruined. As a first class flyer, I wondered what the hell happened to the Carriage Trade.”
Curiously, during a flight from New York to Los Angeles many years ago, we lucked into sitting across the aisle from Rita Hayworth, who admitted loving the changing seasons of the East and often travelled there.
She was returning from a disappointment about starring on Broadway, which didn’t happen.
Deliriously beautiful to our eyes, we exchanged pleasantries. She then began to retrieve her stack of mail from her handbag, tearing every piece without reading. We were perplexed, apologized about being quizzical, asking if she had read the mail previously.
“Mail’s become a nuisance, I like to tear it up. I know, I know. I may be destroying checks, but I tear up bills, too … it all evens out.
“When I mentioned this fact to a writer from Time Magazine he wrote it, but said he didn’t believe me. You see now that it’s true.”
Sitting across from Rita appeared as if we were in a dream, having followed her career from our youth, wallowing in the news about her.
From her classic movies like Gilda and Cover Girl also They Came To Cordura and The Lady from Shanghai, Fire Down Below and Affair In Trinidad, plus others.
“I was always working,” she’s remarked to journalists. “From a very young age, when my father enrolled me in dance classes. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, was my life for years.”
She became Fred Astaire’s favorite dance partner, and signed as a contract player for Twentieth Century-Fox, and later with Columbia Pictures, owned by Harry Cohn, who made her clock in every day. She called him “a monster.”
Cohn loaned her to Orson Welles, whom she married, for The Lady From Shanghai, with Orson changing her ravishing red hair to blonde and cutting off her signature long tresses. Cohn then ripped into Welles “for violating Rita’s great sex symbol.”
She also wed Muslim heir, Prince Aly Khan who wanted their daughter Rebecca to be raised with his faith. Which Rita refused, determined her daughter would be a Christian.
Singer Dick Haymes, was another husband as were James Hill and Edward Judson.
Wearing a white satin negligee with a black bodice and kneeling on a double bed, Rita’s photograph became the most popular pin-up for the military during World War II.
“They called me the ‘love goddess’, but I think of myself as a comedian who dances.”
In our book, a hell of an actress, too!