My Car Quest

December 12, 2017

Rita’s Revenge

Even a Ghia bodied Cadillac couldn’t keep this marriage together…

by Wallace Wyss –

This is a story of unrequited love all the way around. It occurred in the early ‘50s. Think long haired stars of film noir, clinging ballroom gowns, mood lighting, moonlight on the Riviera, that sort of thing.

First, (and good casting for this story I might add) as the female lead was Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino, to a Spanish Flamenco dancer father and Ziegfield girl mother. She was reportedly an under-age dancer at a Tijuana club when she was discovered by Fox Studios.

She became one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. Her one-glove strip tease in the movie Gilda put her on the map. Rita was a top movie star and a popular pinup girl during the forties. Her second husband was famed director Orson Wells, who she married in 1943. Her career bloomed during that time, but she lived on the edge, by having a fling around 1948. Not with some ordinary Joe, mind you, but with an Ismaili prince, Aly Kahn.

Rita Hayworth Ghic Cadillac

Art by Wallace Wyss

I had heard about Aly Khan since I was a teenager but back then (you might say “before Wikipedia”) I never actually had been able to figure out what country he was a prince of, primarily because the Ismaili sect of Muslims have no country or territory of their own. Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan, known as Aly Khan, was a son of Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims. Aly Khan’s son, born in 1957, is the current Sultan Aga Khan IV and worth about $800 million.

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth

Long story short. They married. But in 1951, he strayed and was spotted dancing at a nightclub with an equally svelte babe. She divorced him. But it took a helluva long time to divorce him. During that time, the Prince, who just loved cars to death, (as well as thoroughbreds, owning quite a stable) bought this Cadillac bodied by Ghia and sent it to her, maybe hoping it would cement the marriage.

There was a daughter involved and Rita didn’t want the daughter raised as a Muslim. He even offered her a million smackers if she would change her mind. In January 1953 the divorce was granted.

 
 

Ghia Cadillac

Ghia Cadillac – photo by Mike Gulett

I was wondering if she actually got the Caddy because the divorce went through. When I published this story before, a guy wrote and said he saw her driving it, so I am assuming she got to enjoy it. You don’t forget seeing Rita Hayworth in a car like this.

My story with the car is shorter. Sometime in the ‘80s, I was driving south on some road adjoining the Pacific, toward San Diego, through a town called Encinitas, and here’s this used car lot. The usual Mustang, pickups, yadda yadda and waaaaaiiiit-a-minute, a Ghia bodied car. I stop. It has Cadillac badges on it.

I love the grille but the salesman says the six fake exhaust pipes sticking out of the body side, (actually with lenses in them) were part of the design. I smell George Barris with all the fake gold colored chrome. He says it’s by Ghia. I say, with all the thousands of Road & Tracks I’d read on my brain, “Ghia didn’t make no Cadillacs.” And, though it is only $14,000, I leave, triumphant that I had set that ignorant salesman straight.

Ghia Cadillac

Ghia Cadillac – photo by Mike Gulett

Only years later do I realize that it WAS a Cadillac. By Ghia. And I dimly remember asking my mum who the Aga Khan was and her vague answer. And it turns out there were two of them. The Petersen Museum has one, in black. Or do they own the maroon one? Dunno which one was the car I saw.

I Googled ol’ Rita. Turned out she died in 1987.

About that car. This is a public confession, as it were. I was a know-it-all and will forever repent my impetuousness whenever I see this car….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss, the artist who did the illustration, will be showing his art at the Lumber Yard in Malibu Nov. 18th. A list of his artwork can be obtained by writing Photojournalistpro2@gmail.com

 
 
 

 

 

Ghia Cadillac

Ghia Cadillac – photo by Richard Bartholomew

Summary
Rita's Revenge
Article Name
Rita's Revenge
Description
Rita Hayworth was one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood, she married Aly Kahn and he gave her this Ghia Cadillac.
Author

Comments

  1. Glenn Krasner says:

    Yes, the beautiful Rita died in 1987 at an age too young, of Alzheimer’s Disease, and ever since, her daughter with Aly Khan has been heavily involved with fundraising to find a cure for this terrible disease.

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