“You couldn’t help but fall in love with Rita,” Glenn Ford remembered.
He and Rita Hayworth appeared in six films together: The Lady in Question (1940), Show-Business at War (1943), Gilda (1946), The Loves of Carmen (1948), Affair in Trinidad (1952), and The Money Trap (1965).
Ford said, “Rita and I were very fond of one another. We became very close friends, and I guess it all came out on the screen.”
In Peter Ford’s book about his father, it was revealed that the two stars were actually more than friends during the making of Gilda and again during The Loves of Carmen.
“I loved her very deeply at that time,” Ford would later admit in an interview.
However, their respective marriages kept them from pursuing the relationship in public.
Any hint of romance would also have been sure to raise the eyebrow of Columbia’ studio head, Harry Cohn.
“[He] thought he could tell you how to dress, what to do, what to eat, who to be friends with,” Ford remembered. “When Rita was doing a picture, he’d bar the men from coming on the set. When I was doing a picture, he’d forbid the starlets from coming on my set. When Rita and I did a film together, I think he bugged our dressing rooms.”
As a result, the two played a prank on Cohn, by faking a romantic tryst for him to eavesdrop on. Because of the troublemaking they sometimes got into, Ford nicknamed Hayworth, William Holden, and himself “Cohn’s three children.”
“Even though Cohn was a hard taskmaster…. [he] is the one I have to thank for everything I have today.”
Hayworth wasn’t so lucky though. Her relationship with Cohn was unstable, and the studio head was especially controlling over his star. When Rita pursued Orson Welles, Harry objected and even tried to stop it.
Recalling the studio system, Ford said, “We had to work and do everything and not complain. We didn’t get to choose. Otherwise you’d be on suspension and you couldn’t afford that on what they paid us.”
Actress Shifra Haran said, “Miss Hayworth herself said she was two people. She was the movie star on screen, and she was the person. People expected things of her that she wasn’t as a person.”
Ford took notice of the toll that the film industry had on Hayworth, and by the time they made Affair in Trinidad together, he could see the spark was beginning to go out of her eyes.
While the pair never officially became a couple, they remained close until her death. In fact, they were neighbors. Ford built his dream house next door.
Ford’s son said, “He installed a little gate in the back of his property so she could come from her house over to his. She would spend a lot of time at my dad’s house sitting by the pool. They were constantly together.”
Hayworth called Ford “the best neighbor a woman ever had.”