As one of the most glamorous stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Rita Hayworth lit up the screen during her peak in the ’30s and ’40s. But even though the star is sadly no longer with us, part of her lives on in her daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. And while Yasmin has taken a very different path in life to her famous mom, she has still inherited the late actress’ striking beauty.
Before Yasmin was born, though, Hayworth had already been through two marriages. In 1937 the movie icon tied the knot with Edward Judson, although the pair ultimately ended their union five years later. And the actress didn’t waste any time in finding husband number two. In 1943 she got hitched to legendary director Orson Welles, and within a year the pair had become parents to daughter Rebecca.
Sadly, the five-year mark proved to be the breaking point once more, with Hayworth and Welles officially calling time on their marriage in 1948. Undeterred, the star would say ‘I do’ in 1949 to Prince Aly Khan. This relationship produced Yasmin later that same year, although Hayworth found herself yet again heading for the divorce court in 1953.
Dick Haymes would become husband number four in 1953, although at just two years, the marriage proved to be Hayworth’s shortest. Then, finally, in 1958 she walked down the aisle for a fifth time, with James Hill as the lucky groom. This, too, failed to last. And after the couple parted ways in 1961, Hayworth – having perhaps realized her errors – remained single until her death in 1987.
Of these five marriages, though, the relationship with Khan was undoubtedly the most scandalous. After all, both he and Hayworth were wed to other people when they met in 1948 at a bash on the French Riviera. And in a contemporary piece about the globetrotting romance, the British tabloid The People was scathing, saying, “The extravagant expeditions of this colored prince and his ‘friend’ have become an insult to decent-minded women the world over.”
Harry Cohn, the president of Columbia Studios, also wasn’t particularly happy about this latest chapter in Hayworth’s turbulent love life. In fact, after the actress walked away from a Hollywood project to travel the world with Khan, Cohn sued her for $1.2 million. Hayworth, for her part, simply ignored all the bad press, and in 1949 she married the rich playboy in the French commune of Vallauris.
Sadly, Hayworth and Khan’s fairytale romance didn’t exactly get a happy ending. Firstly, the couple reportedly became embroiled in a bitter custody fight over Yasmin after they filed for divorce in 1951. Then, just nine years later, Khan tragically lost his life in a car accident.
And, interestingly, it’s possible to draw parallels between Yasmin’s love life and that of her iconic mom. For example, in 1985 Hayworth’s youngest child similarly tied the knot with a man of great wealth. He was Basil Embiricos, and together the shipping heir and Yasmin welcomed son Andrew in 1986. Within two years, however, the pair had gone their separate ways.
Then, in 1989, Yasmin got hitched for a second time to Christopher Jeffries. Unfortunately, though, he didn’t prove to be “the one,” either, as within four years he and Yasmin had parted company. And, distressingly, Hayworth’s daughter suffered even more heartache in 2011 when her only son took his own life.
Andrew had reportedly struggled with drug addiction and was said to have undergone several stints in rehab. And, tragically, the young man had apparently previously attempted suicide before being found at his apartment in Manhattan. He was just 25 years old at the time of his death.
Since then, Yasmin has opened up about her famous family – including her legendary mom. Speaking to Fox News in 2018, she said of Hayworth, “She was just a wonderful mother. So loving, so caring… I remember being on the set of Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra and just how I was in awe of her. And just the excitement of Circus World with John Wayne. But I just remember her as a loving, loving mother.”
Luckily for Yasmin, she also hadn’t been left too scarred by her parents’ split. In fact, she contradicted press reports that the pair had been constantly at war with each other. Yasmin said, “I would visit my father and spend the summers with him in the south of France. [He and my mother] had a good relationship after their divorce, so that was helpful. There weren’t any bad feelings.”
And despite having had a bona fide silver screen icon for a mother and a rich prince for a father, Yasmin wasn’t allowed to become spoiled. In fact, Hayworth made sure that her daughter had as normal a childhood as possible. Yasmin recalled, “She really taught me important things, such as taking care of my room, making my bed and making sure my clothes were off the floor.”
Yasmin had previously spoken about Hayworth’s parenting style in a People interview that had been published shortly after Hayworth’s death. There, she had revealed, “At home, [Hayworth] was quite strict. She allowed me to watch television only on weekends when there was no school. In my early teens I wasn’t allowed to go out on dates, but [I] could have my boyfriends and girlfriends over to the house.”
Yasmin continued, “Mother wasn’t judgmental, but she would give my visitors a subtle once-over before she would allow me to spend more time with them. I think that instinct came from her own strict Catholic background. I wasn’t allowed to go on a date alone until I was 16.”
In her interview with Fox News, however, Yasmin admitted that things had started to get a little more challenging during her high school years. This was a period in which the teenager had begun to notice that her then-50-something mother wasn’t always quite herself. Yasmin explained further, saying, “I just noticed that in some phone calls, [my mom] was slightly off and repetitive.”
“I didn’t understand it,” Yasmin went on to admit. “And then I would go home and find the same thing. [Hayworth was experiencing] repetition, a bit of paranoia [and] hearing things that weren’t there, [and then she would hit] the panic button for the police. It started slowly back then… That would be in the ’60s.”
Unfortunately, life only appeared to get worse for Hayworth after her daughter had moved to Vermont to continue her studies at Bennington College. Yasmin told Fox News, “She would become more repetitive. I found it really odd… I didn’t understand it… She would say to me, ‘I can’t remember’ and laugh it off.”
Hayworth’s mental deterioration became more evident in 1971 when she ventured into the theater world, with the actress’ stage ambitions being swiftly cut short after she repeatedly forgot her lines. Five years later, an article in People magazine also alleged that Hayworth had been “drunk, agitated and confused” after disembarking from a flight to London.
And the situation became even more desperate in 1981 when Hayworth was deemed unable to look after herself by a Los Angeles court. As a result, she moved to the Big Apple; there, she was cared for by her youngest daughter, who also became her legal guardian. Of this period, Yasmin revealed to Fox News, “My motherly instincts just took over. It was a natural thing for me to help [my mom] and go through this with her.”
Later that year, Ronald Fieve, a doctor at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, would determine that Hayworth had Alzheimer’s. And Yasmin was left with mixed feelings about the news, saying in her Fox News interview, “By the time [Hayworth] was diagnosed, she really wasn’t totally aware. But it was difficult… She would look at me and say, ‘Who are you?’”
Yasmin continued, “[My mother] would get angry for no reason and belligerent. Not all people with dementia get that way, but she did… I had to regulate her medication as she became more aggressive… And just the basics of eventually trying to get her in the shower [was difficult]. It was very painful.”
Thankfully, Yasmin also received much-needed support at the time from the Alzheimer’s Association. Formed in 1980, the organization was set up to help caregivers deal with a condition that was very much a mystery at the time. And for Hayworth’s daughter, Jerome H. Stone, the association’s president, was particularly a source of great comfort.
Yasmin said, “[The Alzheimer’s Association] found me and said, ‘We have this small organization, and we would love for you to be a part of it. We can share our heartache and our pain and also what’s coming next. Preparation… [for] the disease and what to expect down the road.’ They were there for me. I was able to talk to those family members, and we could share our issues. It was wonderful.”
In her chat with Fox News, Yasmin revealed that she had also asked for some divine intervention during her mother’s final years. She explained, “When [my mother] was near death… I called in the priest for her last rites. [After that], she lived another two years. Her heart was so strong, but she really didn’t recognize anyone. It was a slow decline. She had wonderful care.”
The fact that Hayworth was being cared for next door also helped Yasmin cope. She added, “I could go in and talk to [my mother] in her ear. I always felt like I had to communicate; maybe somewhere she would hear me. And then my son was born in 1985. I would bring him in and talk to her. I wasn’t sure if she knew or not, but I thought it was important to be there and share, because one never knows.”
Sadly, if inevitably, Hayworth finally succumbed to the disease in 1987 at the age of 68. Yet her death wasn’t in vain, as Yasmin became inspired to forge a very different career from that of her mother’s. In particular, she has become a keen advocate of and fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research in the hope that a cure will eventually be discovered.
During her conversation with Fox News, Yasmin admitted that she had initially been left frustrated about the lack of media attention paid to Alzheimer’s disease. She said, “I think it was disappointing to me that someone in Hollywood didn’t step up and take the cause, like Elizabeth Taylor [had] with AIDS. It’s been a long road. And now the press writes about it… Every country is affected by the disease.”
And although Alzheimer’s disease is now covered far more widely by the press, Yasmin nevertheless told Fox News that she was still determined to raise even more awareness. She said, “Just having the experience of a loved one with the disease, and seeing the decline and knowing so many people have [it]… That motivates me. I’m hoping that we find the answers in my lifetime… That’s been my motivation. We need to find a cure.”
In fact, Yasmin is now the president of a federation known as Alzheimer’s Disease International. And in 2019 she once again spoke about how the condition has affected her personally in an interview with Canadian daily newspaper The Globe and Mail. There, Hayworth’s youngest daughter began by recalling her mother’s behavior before her official diagnosis.
Yasmin said, “[My mother] started with symptoms in her early 50s. There was a lot of confusion, disorientation [and] mood changes, and she became quite aggressive. She’d hear voices outside the house and call the police, [but] the police would come and there was nobody there… She was forgetful, accusatory. It was confusing and difficult, and it wasn’t until she actually had a collapse that I could get her to a doctor.”
Hayworth’s alcohol intake also left Yasmin believing that it was a factor in her mother’s demise. “She had also been drinking – not heavily, but the alcohol exacerbated the plaques and tangles in the brain that were being created with the disease,” Yasmin continued. “I thought she had this serious drinking problem, but there was this element of brain disease.”
Yasmin then recalled exactly how her mother was diagnosed, adding, “She had a brain scan, and she had memory testing by a neurologist. And between the brain scan and the memory testing – like, ‘Who’s the president of the United States?’ – they actually diagnosed her then, which is quite unbelievable. It was confirmed on autopsy when she passed, where you could see the plaques and tangles.”
Meanwhile, following her diagnosis, Hayworth developed a love of painting – something that was apparently a great coping mechanism. “It brought her peace, and she had some talent,” Yasmin revealed. “There weren’t medications at the time. Today we do have medications, which can help slow [the disease] down for some people and also help the mood. I think that’s where painting comes in and music comes in, with mood, to help relieve the stress.”
Hayworth also loved playing the castanets in her final years, and her daughter may even have inherited her sense of rhythm. Yasmin added, “When I went to university, I was a music major. Timpani was my specialty [as well as] voice. I was going to go to Europe to study, [but] that’s when my mother’s disease heightened, [so] it was really necessary that I step[ped] in.”
But musical talent isn’t the only thing that Hayworth shared with her daughter, as Yasmin has also become renowned on the New York society scene for her sense of glamor. Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was just one of several fashion icons who attended a ceremony in the Big Apple honoring the Alzheimer’s research advocate in 1991.
And in 2011 Yasmin made headlines for her glitzy appearance at the Rita Hayworth Gala – the annual fundraiser she had set up in memory of her mother. A HuffPost article on the occasion read, “Even at 61, Yasmin was [as] glamorous as ever in super-bright pink. The dress, complete with sheer sleeves and an intricate bodice, matched the lipstick – the boldest we’ve seen in some time. And like a good princess, she was dripping in diamonds.”
Unsurprisingly, Yasmin has worried she may inherit the disease that ultimately killed her mother – although she has also acknowledged that there’s nothing she can do about the situation. During her 1987 People interview, she claimed, “I’ve learned to live my life day by day. There is so much illness and disease in this world [that] you have to resist giving in to your fears.”
And Yasmin went on to reveal that she was trying to remain as upbeat as possible. She added, “But there is beauty and joy [in the world], too, and that is what you have to concentrate on. You have to use every ounce of willpower you have to live as freely as possible without wasting energy on fear.”
Concluding the interview, Yasmin remarked, “I know my mother will be remembered for her beauty, her talent [and] for giving so much of herself. My mother was a very loving, very lovely lady. I will miss her very much, but her spirit will be with me always, and I know by making this transition she will be at rest and in peace.”
Rita Hayworth isn’t the only Hollywood icon to have left behind a lookalike daughter, though. While Tinseltown legend Cary Grant was married five times throughout his life, he only had one child, Jennifer, with Dyan Cannon. But the uncanny resemblance between Jennifer and her late father doesn’t stop at just looks. You see, unlike Princess Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, the young Grant very much followed in her father’s footsteps when it came to vocation, too.
While the Hollywood legend appeared to dote on his daughter, Grant himself had gone through troubled times on the way to becoming a star of the big screen. He entered the world in 1904 as Archibald Leach – a much less glamorous name than the one by which he would later become known. And, unfortunately, his father, Elias, was somewhat of a philanderer.
Then, while Grant was still yet to hit his teens, he was told that his mother, Elsie, had fled the family and gone to live “on the coast.” No one could offer the young boy an explanation as to why Elsie had abandoned him, either, nor reveal when she would be coming back. Grant was devastated, too, when he was later informed that his mother was deceased – although the truth was very different.
Instead, Elsie had been committed to the Bristol Lunatic Asylum by Elias, who had claimed that his wife was suffering from mania. And it wasn’t until Grant was 30 years old and had made it as an actor that he learned his mother was still alive. When the star went to the asylum to see his mom, though, she barely recognized him.
By this point, Elias was dead, and so the now-famous Grant got Elsie out of the institution and began caring for her himself. Yet while the actor subsequently bought his mother a house and paid her frequent visits, the damage had already been done. And despite his fame and fortune, Grant was always haunted by what had happened to Elsie.
Furthermore, it’s suggested that the star’s painful childhood explains more or less why he bounced between wives so quickly. The icon’s first spouse was a performer named Virginia Cherrill, but their marriage lasted barely a year – and the divorce that followed was not an amicable one.
After that episode, in 1942 Grant wed heiress Barbara Hutton, whose family controlled the Woolworth fortune. And the two had plenty in common. Both were divorced, for example, and both had lost – or thought that they had lost – their mothers at young ages. Hutton’s parent had passed away when Hutton was just five years old, meaning her governess had raised her instead.
And it seems that the media swooned over the marriage. At the time, magazine Modern Screen declared, “Barbara and Cary thought they had found the real thing, but they wanted to be sure. So they let their romance age – mellowed it under many moons – [and] tempered it with quarrels. Each day together became more precious, each moment more magical.”
But that relationship didn’t work out, nor did it last very long. The couple officially separated twice, finally divorcing in August 1945; “mental cruelty” was the reason given. Despite this, Grant and Hutton did actually seem to remain friends, and they apparently remained fond of each other thereafter.
Then Grant married his third wife, Betsy Drake, in 1949 – just as his career was starting to slow down a little. And while with Drake, Grant returned to favor in Hollywood and made some of his most famous movies, including the classics To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest.
But by 1962, it was all over. Indeed, Drake claimed in the papers for the divorce filing that Grant “often fell asleep after dinner and preferred television to talking with [her].” After that, Grant quickly fell into the arms of Dyan Cannon, who was a huge 34 years his junior.
Cannon and Grant eloped together in 1965, with Jennifer being born a year later. The actor even quit his career in order to be a father. But the marriage, like many of Grant’s others, didn’t last very long. In 1968 the couple split, with the pair then finding themselves in the position of having to co-parent.
And in 1973 Grant talked to The New York Times Encyclopedia of Film about raising his child following the divorce. He said, “Jennifer and I level with each other. She finds it difficult to leave me, and she also finds it difficult to leave her mother. Any court that can handle that situation has to have the wisdom of Solomon.”
Grant went on, “[Jennifer’s] mother and I are trying to handle it the best we can, and I think the love we feel for Jennifer will be reflected. The press builds these things up so, using words like battling and fighting. Nobody’s fighting; it’s just that when you have a point of disagreement which you cannot resolve, you must go to the man who will arbitrate: the judge.”
Grant also seemed to express his regret at not having had more kids. He showed the interviewer a picture of the seven-year-old Jennifer before saying, “If I had known then what I know now… if I had not been so utterly stupid or selfish… I would have had a hundred children, and I would have built a ranch to keep them on.”
But while Grant was never able to fulfill his wish, it seems that he had been a good father prior to his death in 1986. In a contemporary obituary for the star, The New York Times said, “In [Grant’s] later years, he took great joy in his loving relationship with his only child – his daughter, Jennifer – whose mother was his fourth wife, the actress Dyan Cannon.”
And Grant also left a lot of money to his daughter. His will dictated that most of his fortune should be split between his widow, Barbara Harris, and Jennifer, who was then 20 years old. Jennifer would be given access to half of the inheritance when she turned 30, Grant’s lawyer said at the time, and the rest of it five years later.
Grant’s belongings were similarly distributed among many people, including Jennifer. But there was no actual funeral service or public memorial for the actor, as he hadn’t wanted one. And while Grant’s body was cremated and his ashes were said to have been scattered in the California hills, the exact truth is something only his closest family members know for sure.
Nevertheless, two years after Grant’s death, Cannon told Redbook magazine what her ex-husband had been like as a father. Though the divorce had been bad, she said, she had never wanted Jennifer and Grant to fall out. Cannon even claimed that she had once told her daughter, “Honey, it’s okay to love your dad.”
Jennifer had been only two years old when Cannon and Grant had split up, with the actress having been given custody of the toddler. Grant, by contrast, had been accorded visitation rights every other weekend as well as a full month every year. Yet Cannon was eager to state, “There were many, many, many more times when Cary saw Jennifer, and she was never, ever used as a ‘football’ between us.”
The star also remembered, “Cary let me make all the decisions. When Jennifer was little, I’d send the nurse with her any time she visited Cary so she would be cared for. When she grew out of that stage and wanted to go out while visiting him, he’d say, ‘Call your mother and find out what time you have to be in.’”
Cannon went on, “I wish Cary had participated more in the parenting process, but I don’t think he knew how… I think he thought he was doing the right thing. It’s hard to know what was in his head. So I was the heavy across the board. I never felt overburdened with Jennifer, though I didn’t like always being the heavy. But she’s turned out to be a great kid, so I must have done something right.”
At the time of the chat, Jennifer was 22 years old, and her mother told Redbook that she had just graduated from Stanford University. Cannon added, “The things [Jennifer] talks to me about are confidential, but right now she is working on a TV special about her father.”
Then the interviewer pondered whether Jennifer ever felt burdened by being Grant’s child, to which Cannon replied, “You know something? My kid is so together. She was raised with moral values. She had a daddy she loved very much, a mama she loves very much and a good sense of herself. So I don’t think that weighs on her. She’s got a really good center.”
In any case, Jennifer became an actor just like her father. In the early ’90s she landed a role in Beverly Hills, 90210, and from then until 2015 she forged a career on screen. You may have spotted her in the Friends episode “The One with Two Parts: Part 1,” for example, or in a small cameo in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
And it seems that Jennifer has inherited quite a lot of her father’s good genes, too. During Grant’s heyday, he was widely considered to be a handsome man, with his early movies very much playing on his sex appeal. Then, when he got older, he was considered to have aged very gracefully indeed – much like his daughter has done.
It should be known, though, that Jennifer has also become a parent herself. In August 2008 she gave birth to a baby boy whose name pays tribute to his late grandfather. Jennifer told People magazine at the time, “Cary Benjamin sleeps dreamily on my stomach as we’re both bonding and recuperating. He’s phenomenal.”
And Jennifer has since revealed a great deal more about her famous relative. In 2011 she wrote in her book Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, “To me, [my dad] was like a marvelous painting. All the art historians wish to break down the motives and the scheme and so on. I would rather know, as I do, his essence. I believe that at the heart of a person lies passion. For the last 20 years of his life, I was given the extraordinary privilege to experience the full, vital passion of his heart.”
Jennifer also explained that her father’s death had pushed her into becoming an actress. Initially, she had planned to begin working at a law firm in San Francisco before engaging in further studies in the same field, although this ultimately never came to pass. Jennifer revealed, “When Dad died, I shifted gears in ten seconds flat. I felt pulled, in an almost subterranean way, home to Los Angeles. Why? If Dad came home, that’s where he’d be.”
And Jennifer also wrote, “The grief of losing my father has come in waves over the years, as it does with most people. His love and devotion as a father provided my closest, most intimate relationship. Dad, and our time together, is in my bones. While reflecting on him, the memories themselves seem to boil down into certain ‘essences of Dad.’ My words, by their nature, are finite. Dad, now, is infinite.”
Also in 2011, Jennifer talked about her decision to name her son after her father. She said to the Daily Mail, “When I knew I was pregnant four years ago with a boy, a friend suggested I call him Cary, but I initially resisted. There was only one Cary Grant. But a week before he was due, I started thinking it would be wonderful to pass the name on to him. And, anyway, my father wasn’t Cary to me. He was Dad.”
Of her child, Jennifer added, “Almost from the start, I saw familiar characteristics in my son. He’s funny, for instance, and he’s been that way from the start. Like his grandfather, he has funny bones. No one had better comic timing than Dad. People ask if any man can ever measure up to him.”
In that particular interview, Jennifer also tackled the question of her father’s sexuality – something about which there had long been rumors. But Grant’s daughter attempted to put the speculation to rest, saying, “Was Dad gay? My gut instinct was [that] he was straight. Perhaps his maverick nature coupled with his grace made him difficult to categorize. Perhaps he had what Virginia Woolf described as ‘an androgynous mind.’ I’m sure he was sometimes a bit flirty with men.”
Jennifer went on, “But, above all, [my dad] was sensitive and looked out for those he loved – [and], luckily for me, none more so than myself. When he died, I had the additional burden of everyone being aware of my grief. Now it’s fine. People stop me all the time with their recollections of Dad, and it gives him a kind of immortality. But it was hard at first. The book was a kind of closure.”
Cannon was also interviewed by the Daily Mail and contributed her memories of Grant. She said, “Though he was so happy to be a father, he’d also get scared as it brought up memories of his childhood. When he was ten, he was told his mother had died, but in fact his father had her committed to an asylum so he could carry on womanizing… Things became polite, almost cold, between us.”
And regarding the gossip about Grant’s sexuality, Cannon explained, “I was in bed with him most of the time, so I didn’t notice. I don’t know what he did before or after me, but I do know there was never another woman or man in our relationship. And he was so full of energy and life that men, women, children… everyone was just drawn to him. Jennifer has a theory [that] Cary enjoyed the rumors because it made women want to prove them wrong, but I don’t know.”
Jennifer also had another child, a daughter called Davian Adele Grant, in 2011. And she has continued to talk about her kids’ famous grandfather as the years have gone by. In 2016, for example, she spoke once again about Grant while on the red carpet of the TCM Classic Film Festival.
There, Jennifer explained that she was introducing one of her father’s films, 1937’s When You’re In Love, that night. And when an interviewer asked her, “How is it for you to see your dad up there on the big screen in all of these films? What does that do to you?” Jennifer answered, “You know, I have all sorts of reactions to seeing my dad – and my mom – on screen.”
The actress went on, “You know, my father retired when I was born, so I didn’t see him working in the industry. [There are] some things that are funny about it. I’ll see him light up a cigarette on camera and I’ll go, ‘He wouldn’t smoke! Oh Dad, what are you doing? You would never pick up a cigarette. You hated nicotine!’”
Jennifer added, “There are other times when you know, I just automatically fill up with tears because he is who he is who he is, and I miss him. And a glance or some look will just get me. It’ll pierce me straight through.” Perhaps, then, those words prove just how beloved Grant was – and remains – to his daughter.