Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Rita Hayworth Pin-Up

with 12 comments

rita

In the summer of 1941, just a few months before Pearl Harbor was attacked, LIFE magazine ran a black-and-white photograph of an up-and-coming movie actress named Rita Hayworth. The redheaded beauty was kneeling on a bed made up with satin sheets. Her silky nightgown is white, with black lace trimming the low-cut top. She’s smiling slightly for photographer Bob Landry. Landry took many photos of Hayworth, but his favorite was an accidental one–his flash was too bright and this is reflected in the black silhouette reflected at Hayworth’s back. However, Landry thought this added more depth and mystery allure to the picture and submitted it to the magazine.

The details surrounding the photo shoot are unclear. One story has it that the photo was taken in Hayworth’s own bedroom, but another suggests that she knelt on a bed on the movie set of You’ll Never Get Rich. The sexy lace nightie was either made by the press agent’s mother or came from Columbia Pictures’ prop department. A flashbulb may or may not have failed — sculpting the shadow on Hayworth’s chest. One rumor has it that someone told Hayworth to take a deep breath before the famous shot, making the image even more provocative.

The snapshot would become one of the most popular pin-ups of World War II, but LIFE refused to put it on its cover, saying it was too risque. By the end of the war, more than 5 million copies of this photo were sold. Only Betty Grable sold more pin-ups. The U.S. Navy named her, “The Red-Head We Would Most Like to be Ship-Wrecked with”. She was so loved during this period that there was actually a record available with the sound of her heartbeat. A shy girl in her private life, she never enjoyed being a sex goddess. However, she took part in USO shows for the enlisted men; her then boyfriend, and soon to be husband, Orson Welles saw her in half for his magic show. Her mystique survived the World War. Alluding to her bombshell status, in 1946, her likeness was placed on the first nuclear bomb to be tested at the Bikini Atolls.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

May 10, 2009 at 12:43 am

Posted in Culture, War

12 Responses

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  1. Where can I get a poster of the iconic Landry photo (from Life Magazine) of this Rita Hayworth photo ? It was the 2nd biggest pinup of WWII; second only to Betty Grable.

    Patrick

    January 19, 2010 at 9:50 pm

  2. I first saw Rita in the movie Blood in the Sand & she reminded me of one of my sisters. There were six boys and three girls in my family. My father was a very handsome man and my mother was beautiful. They came to America in 1912 from Mexico We were Spanish and and musicality incline. My sister Eva was more beautiful than Rita and could sing & dance with the best of them.I had three older brothers that were very handsome men. when the WW 2 started all my brothers went. I eight years old then.

    Mariano Ortega De Banuelos

    January 21, 2010 at 4:55 pm

  3. well of course, everyone loves to get rich but not everyone would love to do hard work .;*

    Biotin Dosage

    December 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

  4. [...] WWII memoirs. But Life also served up serial eye candy, including this drop-dead pinup of actress Rita Hayworth in a negligee on her satin-sheeted bed in 1941, to keep junior, dad and even grandpa reaching into [...]

  5. I would love a poster of Rita. Does anyone know where you can get a large scale say 19×24?

    Lance

    November 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

  6. [...] ondulantes están más en boga.  Ahora las divas Loise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth y Bettie Page estarían de [...]

    Moda Pin Up

    December 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm

  7. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit
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  8. […] Hayworth’s pin up photo from Life magazine was one of the most popular pin ups for American servicemen serving overseas in World War II. You can see that pin up photo here. […]

  9. Would love a copy of my photo. …. Many thanks

    Robert landry

    September 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm

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    September 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm

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