When the father of the woman who was one day to be known to millions as "Rita Hayworth" met the woman who was to be her
mother, it was lust at first sight -- if little else. The two were both working on the same Broadway show in 1916, a trifle
entitled "Follow Me" starring a now forgotten actress named Anna Held. Eduardo Cansino was twenty years old, Volga Hayworth
was nineteen. When the fairly voluptuous Volga got a look at latin lover boy Eduardo, she had a feeling he was just what the
doctor ordered to drive her staid father, a printer, to distraction. She also thought the more experienced Eduardo -- in show
business, among other things -- could be of enormous help to her career. For his part, Eduardo sensed that Volga thought he
was nearly as good-looking as he thought he was. He had a way with women, and Volga was no more immune to his charm than so
many other women before her.
Eduardo Cansino was part of a brother and sister act known
as the Dancing Cansinos. He and his sister Elisa had traveled from Madrid to find fame and fortune in America, and had worked
their way up from the opening act to the headliners on the vaudeville circuit, largely because their enthusiasm and panache
and sexiness made them one dancing act that did a lot more than just fill up time while the audience waited for the comic
to come on. In a word, their flamenco dancing drove the audience wild. The only problem was that Elisa and Eduardo were used
to a much more demonstrative response from their audience, and told more than one interviewer that they were disappointed
in applause which may have been tremendous by American standards but would only be considered polite in Spain.
Nevertheless, the brother-sister duo were a smashing success on the vaudeville circuit considering they had shown up virtually
penniless when their boat docked in New York three years earlier. Their first (private) appearances were at the elegant home
of society patron of the arts Mrs. Stuyvesant (Mamie) Fish, who presented them to her delighted guests, who always included
several booking agents. After appearing in almost all of the top houses on the most prestigious vaudeville circuits, eventually
they were hired to do their specialty numbers in "Follow Me."
Backstage, the handsome Eduardo
checked out all the chorus cuties, no doubt bedding many, before setting his sights on the pretty, and rather wild by 1916
standards, Volga Hayworth. To many people, Volga was simply put, vulgar, but to horny Eduardo that simply translated as loose.
Volga liked the smooth latin good looks of Eduardo, even if at five feet six he was dark and handsome but hardly tall. But
whatever qualities Eduardo had that attracted women, Volga apparently thought he had them in spades.
Volga was typical of many women of the stage of that period and any other. She had run away from her family in Washington
D.C. to become an actress, and fled to New York before her mother or father had any chance to stop her or even to learn of
her plans. She briefly became a Ziegfeld Follies girl, then hopped from one small part in one show to another small part in
another show, finally winding up in "Follow Me." Her parents sent her wrathful wires predicting doom and destruction if she
stayed on her (to them) downward course -- nice girls did not join the follies -- but she ignored these; she was doing what
she wanted. And after meeting, and falling for, Eduardo Cansino, what she wanted to do was follow him on the vaudeville circuit
once the show was over and he took off with his sister again.
This did not sit well with Elisa
Cansino, who shared a dark secret with her brother that would be considered shocking today, let alone over eighty years ago.
For she and her brother had committed incest, often and regularly, and had even had a child together. Elisa was in love with
her brother -- they had often been mistaken for husband and wife -- but now Eduardo only had eyes for Volga. The two women
maintained a very tense relationship as Elisa tried unsuccessfully to reclaim her hold over her brother, not realizing that
it had always been the other way around. To Eduardo, women -- even if they were related to him (Elisa was not the last
family member he would sleep with) -- were things men used for pleasure. They did as their men told them to do and that was
that. When Eduardo decided to ask Volga to marry him, there was nothing Elisa could do to stop it.
In 1917 this bizarre trio went on the road where Elisa tried her best to shut Volga out by speaking to her brother only in
Spanish. Volga tried to ignore Elisa (which was fairly easy considering that her sister-in-law wanted nothing to do with her)
and concentrated on doing all the little things that needed to be done for the act, seeing as she could not participate on
stage. She had never had that much real talent to begin with, and flamenco dancing, with its intricate, stylish steps and
perfect timing, was not something she could ever hope to master.
Later that same year, Elisa had tired
of pining for Eduardo and "accepted," more or less, the fact of his marriage. She had hoped Volga would realize she was a
third wheel, get tired of Spanish conversations and of doing the dull detail work for the act instead of performing in front
of the public (which had been her dream when she ran away from Washington DC), but Volga was made of sterner stuff. She absolutely
adored Eduardo, she hoped he could still somehow fashion a career of her own for her, and she simply ignored Elisa in turn
(with the exception of the occasional sharp words and minor catfights). Eduardo must have been an attentive lover, as devoted
to Volga, at least sexually, as he was neglectful of Elisa, except when they were dancing or rehearsing. Elisa wanted a man
of her own, now that the man she most loved in the world had chosen another for his mate. But what to do about their child?
Elisa had met a man who wanted to marry her, and Eduardo -- sensing the tension between wife and sister and wanting a way
to permanently bury their "secret" as much as Elisa did -- encouraged her to do so. The child, whom they had left behind in
Spain with relatives, was now six years old. He was a boy named Gabriel, and Elisa missed him terribly (Eduardo felt no particular
paternal devotion to the child). If her suitor knew of the boy's existence, would he still want to marry her? There was no
way he could ever find out who the child's father was. Brother and sister -- parents -- conspired to conceal the truth from
the prospective husband, and pulled off a rather ingenious scam in the bargain.
was a thirtyish entertainment manager named Nathaniel A. Jackolo, who had come over from Romania years before. Elisa told
him that she had a son, who by now had been sent for and was living with his mother in America. Nathaniel was charmed by the
boy and agreed to adopt him if Elisa would consent to be his wife, but what about his father, Nathaniel wanted to know --
would he have any objections?
When Elisa went to court for the adoption proceedings, accompanied
by Nathaniel and little Gabriel, she boldly stated that the boy's father was dead, and that his name had been Eduardo Cansino!
(Gabriel's last name was Cansino.)
In truth, Eduardo was very much alive, and Elisa had never
been married to him or to any other man. The only truth was that Eduardo was Gabriel's father. It has long been considered
that Elisa told the court this only to hide the fact that Gabriel was a bastard and she a "fallen" woman, but given Eduardo's
proclivities for incest (more on which later) it is not hard to discern the truth of Gabriel's parentage. Undoubtedly Nathaniel
had to know at least part of the truth; Elisa would never have admitted she had slept with her own brother, but she may well
have told her husband that in youth a handsome boy had taken advantage of her and should little Gabriel have to pay the price?
Nathaniel was big enough to ignore the fact that she had been an unwed mother, but any further disclosures would have been
much too devastating. It is also probable that Elisa convinced him that
the boy's true father was dead, but told him she
had no proof of it and didn't want anything to possibly endanger the adoption going through. Claiming Eduardo was the father
and saying he was deceased was the easiest way of handling it, she told her husband.
other questions, of course. How did Elisa ever think she would get away with it -- she and her very-much-among-the-living
brother were a well-known dance team. Still, they could hardly be considered super-stars by any stretch of the imagination.
It would be two years before they would play the Palace, for instance, the ne plus ultra of the vaudeville circuit.
One can only imagine that the judge at the adoption hearing didn't go to the theater very often, and had certainly never seen
a performance of "Follow Me." (Considering the number of New Yorkers who have no interest in the cultural richness of the
city, this is not as far-fetched as it may seem.) In any case, Elisa and Eduardo were lucky that they ever managed to
pull it off.
This is not to say, however, that Elisa and Nathaniel entered into anything resembling
a state of wedded bliss. On the contrary, their marriage lasted less than a year. For years the story circulated that Nathaniel
discovered love letters that his wife had sent to another entertainer, or vice versa. That entertainer was undoubtedly her
own brother, whom she had never gotten over. At some point the whole truth about Gabriel's origins must have dawned in Nathaniel's
brain, engendering nothing but dismay and disgust. He filed for divorce and had nothing further to do with them.
Elisa was upset with all this, but only moderately; she had never truly loved Nathaniel, after all, but only wanted legitimacy
for her and Eduardo's boy. Most upset by the divorce was Volga, who had been thrilled to see Elisa off with some other man
when she wasn't dancing with Eduardo. But soon she had a hold on Eduardo that she felt sure would secure his love for her
and ensure their future as a couple: she was pregnant.(She had no idea that Elisa had a similar claim on Eduardo.)
Eduardo wanted a son, and made no secret of his disappointment when on October 17th, 1918, Volga gave birth to Margarita Carmen
Cansino, who would grow up to become Rita Hayworth.
|Rita in "The Loves of Carmen"
Although her mother and others would call the little girl Margarita, Eduardo always referred to his daughter as "Carmen,"
after his mother. But he was to treat her more like he had his sister, more like the racy promiscuous heroine of Bizet's classic
opera than like a daughter.
Almost a year after Margarita's arrival, Volga gave birth to a son
named Eduardo Jr. (Sonny), and then to another son, Vernon, three years later. Her life as a showgirl was now officially over
but this was something Volga could never accept. Her figure was gone, her looks were going, and she began to drink heavily.
To make matters worse, her husband and her chief rival for his affections (even if she were unaware of this) reached the pinnacle
of their career as she sat home nursing the baby: in 1919 the Dancing Cansinos played the Palace. Volga poured herself another
By this time Eduardo's younger brother, Angel, had emigrated to America in the hopes of
emulating his brother's success. When things didn't quite work out that way, Angel decided to open a dancing school, which
he did in no less than the back chambers of Carnegie Hall. In 1922, at the ripe old age of four, Margarita was sent to her
uncle for dancing lessons. To Eduardo's chagrin, his sons never developed any aptitude for dancing, so he was betting all
the family honor on his daughter. She would become a dancer of note or there would be hell to pay.
The following year Eduardo finally became a U.S. citizen, but he and his family were still living out of hotels. Volga would
stay "home" with the children while her husband and sister-in-law traveled around the country having an interesting life.
By this time it may have dawned on her that Elisa was obsessively attached to Eduardo; not that she suspected the full truth,
but rather knew that the divorced, lonely Elisa (who looked like her brother but was not especially pretty) was determined
to make demands on her brother's time, and hence, inroads into Volga's life and "quality time" with Eduardo. She also felt
Eduardo paid too much attention to his "nephew" Gabriel, although this was probably not the case. Eduardo had no great desire
to be much of a father to his sons by Volga, let alone Elisa's child, and for little Margarita he would soon develop plans
that most would consider genuinely unmentionable.
Volga decided that the very least she could
demand of her husband was their own home, a home to which Elisa and her son would not be made especially welcome. At every
opportunity she badgered Eduardo until he finally relented; anything to keep peace. He broke down and bought a house in Woodside,
a section of Queens in New York City. There Volga kept house, minded the children as Eduardo and Elisa roamed the country
-- and drank. She tried to tell herself that she had an enviable life, tried to find contentment in being only a wife and
a mother, but secretly wondered if her father had been right that no good would come of her running off to Broadway or of
marrying the "spick in dancing shoes" as some people referred to Eduardo in racist disparagement.
Eduardo had more important things on his mind than Volga or the children. The sound revolution was taking place in Hollywood,
and vaudevillians of all stripes were moving west lock, stock and barrel to make their fortunes on celluloid. Eduardo and
Elisa had been asked to take part in a demonstration of the Warner Brothers Studios new sound system, Vitaphone, and Eduardo
loved the way he looked on camera. Elisa did not, however, which was why she had no desire to go to Hollywood along with her
brother; she might possibly have decided that it was just too painful to be with him for such long stretches of time when
his heart -- allegedly -- belonged to another woman. In any case, Elisa stayed in New York. Eduardo sensed that if sound pictures
caught on, and there was no reason for them not to, it would signal the end of vaudeville as he had known it.
Margarita was nine years old when she and her brothers were uprouted and taken to Hollywood in 1927. Eduardo had to face an
unpleasant reality, however, once he arrived. He may have been a top vaudeville star who played the palace, he may have been
a Latin Lover par excellence, but he did not speak English well enough or clearly enough to appear in the movies in major
roles. Indeed, the sound revolution spelled finis to his dreams of stardom, which he may have attained during the silent period
had he chosen to pursue them at that point. He did some choreography for films, and finally opened up his own dancing studio,
a sort of west coast edition of his brother Angel's successful business in New York. This went well until the depression hit
in 1929, and the Cansino family had trouble making ends meet. No matter what, Margarita had to continue her dance lessons,
although she did not seem to enjoy them much.
Eduardo and Volga struggled along with their children
for two more years, until Eduardo saw a possible way out of their predicament. In 193l his daughter had reached age thirteen;
she was overweight, moody, difficult, showed some aptitude for dance but was hardly a brilliant or accommodating pupil. But
then something happened which made Eduardo see his daughter in a whole
Cansino was to discover a use for his daughter, more than one, in fact.
One that would, in time,
help turn her into a great star.
And another that would ensure her a childhood
that was hell.
Margarita Cansino's slow metamorphosis into Rita Hayworth began with the proverbial show biz
accident, the sprained ankle that allows the understudy to replace the star.
sister was no longer interested in dancing with him or anybody else, her son, Gabriel -- Eduardo's "nephew" -- had gotten
bitten by the dancing bug. Gabriel was now twenty years old and anxious to strut his stuff, though not as talented as
his father. Gabriel had come west, and his "uncle" agreed to use him in some of the shows he was choreographing for performances
in movie theaters before the presentation of the movie. Eduardo's latest "extravaganza" was in Los Angeles at the Carthay
Circle Theatre, where Gabriel was all set to do a zesty number with a spirited young lady dancing partner.
Right before the show opened, however, this young lady was rehearsing a bit too rambunctiously and twisted her ankle so badly
that there was no way she could perform the following night. Eduardo didn't want to disappoint Gabriel; most importantly,
he didn't want to disappoint the audience and felt "the show must go on." Reluctantly Eduardo went to Margarita and simply
told her that she would do the number with her cousin. Margarita had no choice in the matter; she would always do what her
father told her.
At this first performance before the public in 1931 Margarita was hardly the
sex bomb she would one day turn into, but her father had her painted, put in a provocative (for her age) dancing dress, and
shoved her out on stage with Gabriel. She was pudgy, but clearly a pretty child, as photographs of the occasion illustrate.
Pretty, yes, but still a child, something her father would do his best to ignore in the months and years to follow.
Watching her perform that night, hearing the applause which was meant for his son and daughter but no longer for himself,
Eduardo felt a stab of regret and re-emerging ambition. Gabriel was not a bad dancer, but he was no Eduardo Cansino, and Eduardo
knew this. He cared nothing for whatever ambitions (or lack of ambition) Gabriel or Margarita might have, he thought only
of his own. He made up his mind to reform the Dancing Cansinos, only this time his partner would be his daughter and not his
sister. Elisa was out of practice, too unattractive, and in any case, showed no signs of wanting to come out of retirement.
On some level she may have felt Eduardo's moving to the west coast without her was a kind of betrayal. She also had very mixed
emotions about Gabriel's association with his father.
One can only speculate on what went through
Volga's mind when she learned that Eduardo was taking his act out on the road again and he was taking Margarita with him.
Volga had long since given up any hope of a career. She had had to put up with Eduardo's temper tantrums and other abusive
behavior when his dreams of movie stardom did not materialize. She had suffered with him through the years of poverty during
the depression, watched him try one project after another. It had been bad enough when she had had to compete with his sister
for his time and affection, but now her competition was her own daughter. On a subconscious level she may have been aware
of his relationship with Elisa and feared what might happen if he was alone with Margarita, although such a development would
have been unthinkable, even to a former voluptuary such as Volga. Volga had to resign herself to caring for her two sons,
who, not having talent, had virtually been emotionally abandoned by their father. That and pouring herself more than a few
drinks to get her through the day. By this time, she was well on her way to legitimate alcoholism.
Eduardo was anxious to get started with Margarita, who had no great desire to form an act with her father but would never
have remotely entertained the thought of disobeying him. Eduardo, hoping to reclaim his lost glory and feel like a star again,
made lots of plans and did his best to ignore his sons and the increasingly inebriated Volga. As Margarita had never been
a very good student -- and not much of a social butterfly (although she was well liked and often described as "warm" by her
teachers) -- Eduardo pulled another fast one on the authorities and told them she was years younger than they believed and
therefore did not have to attend school at all. From then on Margarita's life became an isolated one -- no school, no friends,
no social life or contact with others at all. She hardly ever saw her mother or siblings. Instead she just rehearsed, rehearsed,
rehearsed, as Eduardo worked overtime to get her in shape for the projected tour. All the exercise also had the effect of
slimming her down, which her father was to appreciate in more ways than one.
Finally, although he was not entirely satisfied with her work and never would be, Eduardo felt she
was ready to go on the road with him. As prohibition was still in effect (until 1933), several casinos with liquor privileges
had been set up off the coast of California, outside the three mile limit. By this time Margarita had been "psyched" up to
look forward to what she had been working so hard for during the past few weeks, but she faced their first performance with
as much apprehension as she had the numbers with Gabriel on the stage of the Carthay Circle. She survived these early performances,
dancing well enough not to embarrass her father (whose performance, not his daughter's, was what really concerned him), and
her father informed her they were off to Tiajuana. As usual, Volga was instructed to stay home with the boys. If Volga had
anxieties about her daughter being taken to such a contemporary Sodom and Gomorrah as Tiajuana, Mexico, she kept them to herself.
She knew all too well what her husband's temper was like.
In Tiajuana, young Margarita at thirteen
learned exactly what her father's temper was like as well. During rehearsals he had often yelled at her, given her the occasional
slap, but in Tiajuana things turned for the worst. Between performances Eduardo would gamble away his money and go out and
get drunk -- there were plenty of places to go in Tiajuana -- and then come "home" and, like many men, expect to have sex
with his wife. Only Volga was back in Los Angeles.
Margarita was in Tiajuana.
|Rita on the set of "Lady from Shanghai"
On the road with her father Margarita learned that she was to replace her mother in all matters.
Her mother had cooked and cleaned and handled Eduardo's business affairs, and Margarita was expected to do the same. When
she didn't do things just the way he liked them, Eduardo would pummel her body with his fists and throw her against walls
in a rage. It was bad enough that he subjected his daughter to such physical abuse, but he also began molesting her.
On many of these occasions he was drunk, but not so drunk that he didn't know what he was doing. Like his sister before her,
Margarita was considered only a means to an end, someone to build a new career on, someone to fuck -- it made no difference.
Eduardo believed that women existed for pleasure and obedience to their masters, men, and nothing more.
Margarita hero-worshipped her father and would do anything for him, not just out of fear, but -- incredibly -- out of love.
In most cases of father-daughter incest, the daughter has no idea that what's happening is considered abnormal by most people,
and, while she may not welcome the advances, may eventually see them as a necessary part of the relationship and something
she is "willing" to do to please the most important male in her life, something that's right and natural. The pedophile father,
of course, exploits and encourages these feelings, never explaining the truth or the sickness of what is happening. Understandably,
the child's future relationships with men, romantic or otherwise, are irreversibly altered, and often become impossible. The
father, meanwhile, cares only about his own pleasure. Eduardo was not only a sexist and (to all intents and purposes) a pedophile,
but also a monstrous egomaniac.
As far as he was concerned, he was a great Artiste, and he was
above society's rules and regulations; at least he felt this on a subconscious level. Some might argue with labeling Eduardo
a true pedophile, as it was Margarita's emerging "adult" femininity and sensuality that interested him, not necessarily her
extreme youth, but it is difficult to look upon any man who has relations with a thirteen-year-old, particularly his own daughter,
as anything else. In any case, Eduardo was a very sick, putrid example of humanity, and one of the worst movie star fathers
in the history of the cinema.
When the new Dancing Cansinos got a long engagement at the Foreign
Club, a top night spot in Tiajuana, Eduardo sent for Volga and the boys and moved them into a house in California that was
not too far from the Mexican border; it would be an easy matter for him and Margarita to drive to work each night. "What about
school?" Volga wanted to know. Eduardo didn't care what she did with the boys, but he forbade her to enroll Margarita in any
school. He pulled the same trick he had before (he must have been very persuasive) and told school officials that she was
not yet of age. (Apparently school officials were not regulars in the casinos and night clubs of nearby Tiajuana.)
History repeated itself in other ways. Painted with heavy lipstick and lots of face powder and mascara, Margarita actually
looked years older than her age. Again people assumed that the Dancing Cansinos were husband and wife, just as they'd done
with Eduardo and his sister (who at least were closer in age.) Eduardo was in his late thirties; Margarita barely fourteen.
Even though Volga was much closer geographically than she had been in Los Angeles, Eduardo continued to perform his "husbandly
duties" with his daughter instead of his wife, usually in their dressing room between shows, or in their rented house when
the boys were at school and Volga was still passed out from all her drinking.
Years later when Rita
Hayworth told Orson Welles and others about the sexual abuse, some would wonder if she were telling the truth, but it was
clear that she was. First, it is not hard to imagine that a man who will father a child with his own sister would find it
that difficult to sleep with his own daughter. Secondly, everything about Margarita's personality in childhood was symptomatic
of a sexually molested child. She was withdrawn, sullen, uncommunicative, moody. True, she had always been a shy child, but
as she reached puberty things became worse. She was almost a textbook study of a girl who had been abused. Coupled with Eduardo's
egoism, his contempt for women, and the increasing unavailability (on all levels) of his wife, the stories of abuse seem more
than reasonable, if no less morally outrageous.
Less certain, however, are the stories that Eduardo
sold his daughter as a prostitute while in Tiajuana in order to raise extra money. There were certainly plenty of hookers
around the Mexican casinos, and prostitution was rampant -- there was no dearth of customers. In addition, Eduardo was no
longer making the kind of money the Dancing Cansinos had made when they were top vaudeville acts; he also had a whole family
to support, not to mention gambling debts and liquor bills (many of which were Volga's). One can easily see a man who has
so little respect for his issue that he would molest his own daughter not having second thoughts about letting other men sleep
with her for pay. Yet, human nature can be as contradictory as it can be perverse, and one can also imagine Eduardo having
such a proprietary interest in Margarita that he would never let another man touch her. For one thing, he would always need
to maintain his control over her, and that might be jeopardized by letting other men have sex with her. (To someone with a
backward mind-set like Eduardo's, there could be no such thing as "rape" or "coercion" in any sexual encounter between a man
and a woman;" therefore Margarita -- in his mind -- could conceivably fall for a man she had to sleep with only because her
father demanded it of her.)
During her more lucid moments, Volga must have finally sensed that
something was wrong, but that didn't mean she was ready to face it. According to reports from her son Vernon many years later,
she began to go with Margarita and Eduardo when they went to the night club each evening, even though that meant she would
have to leave her two little boys all alone for several hours. Furthermore, Volga insisted that Margarita sleep in a double
bed with her in the master bedroom. (Eduardo had his own bedroom, and the boys shared a third.)
That Eduardo conceded to these things must have meant that on some level he knew what he was doing was wrong (or would be
considered wrong by most of society) and was perhaps afraid that Volga would tell people -- the authorities, or people who
could hinder his career -- if she found out the truth. On her end, even if Volga wanted to accept the unacceptable (something
many wives of molesters have trouble doing today, let alone in 1932), she realized that she depended on her husband -- who
depended on Margarita -- for her income. Volga may once have been a free spirit who looked forward to taking life and art
by the horns, but now she was a confused, depressed alcoholic who had no idea how she could support herself or her children
without Eduardo's help.
As for Margarita, she was just a doll in her father's hands; she had no
identity, hardly any personality, without him. The painted lady who danced lasciviously on stage with Eduardo, the mysterious
"Margarita Cansino," was entirely her father's fiction. Every move was choreographed by him, every public gesture. He would
pick out her clothes, the reddest shades of lipstick, show her how to walk and sway even when she wasn't dancing. Once the
clothing and make up came off, Margarita was back to being a child, not very alluring, not very interesting, a drab colorless
wren only waiting for her father to recreate her. She had no real existence when she wasn't on stage. For the sake of her
sanity, on some level she began to enjoy the dancing; she was adept enough at it so that it was no longer work, but fun --
of sorts. But she had no real childhood and "fun" would not really be part of her life. She was only her father's puppet.
After their run at the Foreign Club was over, the Dancing Cansinos were next booked into the
very fashionable Agua Caliente, also located in Tiajuana. Because one of the stockholders in the resort-casino was Twentieth
Century Films' Joe Schenck, the Agua Caliente attracted a great many show biz types. And Margarita Cansino, all of fifteen
by this time but looking much older when she danced, attracted many of these. Soon industry bigwigs were inviting the Cansinos
to their tables or to private parties, where disappointed roues would discover that the hot tamale Margarita was in reality
a painfully timid child who could barely speak above a whisper. As for Eduardo, he had long been considered a has-been. His
only film work was in choreographing the occasional dance, which made him, in Hollywood terms, a never-was.
But while there was no chance Eduardo would ever make the big leagues in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, his daughter was another
story. Even at fifteen, and pathetically awkward with strangers (but not on stage) she must have projected that certain something
that makes a star. Max Arno, who was then the casting director for Warner Brothers, agreed to give the girl a screen test,
primarily because Eduardo kept badgering him. (Stories also circulated that Eduardo offered Margarita herself to any film
person who would give her a break, but as with the sex-for-pay stories, these may be apocryphal.)
When Arno told him that he'd set up the test, Eduardo was overjoyed. Not only did he think the family coffers would be vastly
enriched if Margarita was offered a contract, he also felt that as her father, instructor, and dance partner there might yet
be a place for him in a Hollywood film. A man like Eduardo would not have cared about Margarita's fate in any other terms
except how it might ultimately affect his own. He felt no pride in Margarita except as his creation, his meal ticket, his
entree into a world that had so far evaded and (to his way of thinking) abused him.
proceeded on schedule. The "devoted" father painted and dressed his daughter carefully. He instructed her again and again
on how to move and what to say, if required. He made her go over the steps again and again. He told her how much it meant
to all of them if she could pass this test and be rewarded with a film contract. It is doubtful if Margarita was capable of
thinking of what it might mean to her; she only thought that here was another opportunity to please Papa.
And another opportunity to enrage him if she were to fail ...
God help her then.