Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Going to Bed with Gilda in London’s Notting Hill

While out of town over the Thanksgiving holiday, I flicked on my motel-room TV set and found myself watching a charming Richard Curtis confection from 1999, Notting Hill. Surely you remember it: Hugh Grant is an adorably floppy-haired British bookshop owner who just happens to find himself the love object of a visiting American screen goddess, played by Julia Roberts. (There’s also Rhys Ifans, stealing scenes as Grant’s mangy and horny flat-mate. But I digress.) At one key emotional moment, Roberts as movie-star Anna Scott tellingly quotes a famous line attributed to a genuine Hollywood love goddess, Rita Hayworth. Ms. Hayworth, who had five husbands as well as multiple lovers, is said to have noted, oh so wistfully, "Men go to bed with Gilda, but wake up with me."

Gilda, of course, was one of Hayworth’s most famous roles, She played this enigmatic femme fatale in 1946, wooing audiences, as well as co-star Glenn Ford, by tossing her auburn curls and cooing, “Put the Blame on Mame” in a famous nightclub scene. One of those forever smitten by Hayworth ‘way back then was an L.A. boy, Budd Burton Moss, who grew up to become the older Hayworth’s late-career agent and loyal friend. Budd has turned his memories of Rita (and such Hollywood names as Jack Valenti, Jacqueline Bisset, and good buddy Sidney Poitier) into a memoir he calls Hollywood: Sometimes the Reality is Better than the Dream. A 2015 follow-up to his And All I Got Was 10%, it chronicles Budd’s many movie-related adventures.

Though Budd seems to have known almost every Hollywood celeb, the heart of his second book is his international travels with Rita, who hoped for a career comeback but was stymied by the erratic behavior (much covered by the international press corps) that turned out to be a sign of encroaching Alzheimer’s disease. It was this cruel affliction that ultimately claimed her life in 1987 at the all-too-early age of 68.

So that future generations will remember Rita Hayworth in her prime, Bremedia Produktion GmbH is currently in process of filming a documentary, currently titled Rita / Gilda: Glamour & Tragedy of a Hollywood Legend. Through film clips and interviews with such stars as Robert Wagner, Edward James Olmos, Diane Baker, Millie Perkins, France Nuyen, and Constance Towers, the filmmakers hope to remind the public of Hayworth’s contribution to world cinema.. Coordinating the Hollywood side of this international production will be none other than Budd Moss, who has vigorously put all his resources behind the project. For him, part of the challenge is to show how capably Hayworth managed to define herself as a woman and an actress, in an era when the management of the Hollywood Dream Factory was an all-male club. By the same token, he’s convinced that a focus on the realities of Alzheimer’s is vital. Hayworth was the first major public personality to fall prey to the disease, so her diagnosis sent shockwaves around the world. Today Princess Yasmin, Rita’s daughter by her third husband, Prince Aly Khan, works tirelessly on behalf of Alzheimer’s victims.  The princess, who holds an annual Rita Hayworth Gala to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research, has become an enthusiastic supporter of the Rita/Gilda documentary.

Today’s younger moviegoers have doubtless barely heard of Rita Hayworth. It’s a sure bet that they haven’t seen her peel off a long black glove in Gilda, haven’t seen her trip the light fantastic with Fred Astaire, who once admitted she was his very best dance partner. Here’s hoping that Gilda/Rita helps remind the world of what it has lost.


  1. A delightful, charming and important piece of your lovely way of putting words together to make this BLOG 'a must read' for those in (and 'not in) the entertainment world, my dear Ms. Gray. It is our hopes that our pending audience won't have to wait until late 2020 to meet and get to know RITA / GILDA as we have gotten to know her 'just a little bit better from all those that took part, from Priness Yasmin's interview with our very special Brooklyn College, on camera host, the noted film historian (some 15 books)and lecturer, Foster Hirsch and Constance Towers. Thanks again for being there Beverly. Warmest personal regards, Budd Burton Moss USA producer "RITA/GILDA

  2. Sp glad you like it, Budd. Of course, feel free to share!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this, Budd. What a delightful, and beautifully written article. I adored Rita, and tried to keep up with her turbulent life and loves (to no avail) Just, thank you! Jean

  4. So nice of you to post, Jean. I hope you will visit Beverly in Movieland again!