Film actress, born Margarita Carmen Cansino, in New York City. Child of then well-known Latin dancer, Eduardo Cansino, she began dancing in public at age six. Her nightclub appearances as a Spanish dancer led to a succession of small roles in B-pictures.
Blossoming into an international beauty after dyeing her hair red, she partnered both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in musicals of the 1940s. She proved to be a versatile performer, at home in musicals (although her singing was dubbed), more than able-bodied as a sex goddess (as in Gilda, 1946), and maturing into a creditable actress in such movies as Separate Tables (1958).
A pin-up of US serviceman, her Hollywood career was effectively closed by a scandal involving her romance with Aly Khan (1949), whom she later married. During the 1960s she appeared in character parts, often in Europe, including The Money Trap (1966) and The Wrath of God (1972). Married five times (including to Orson Welles), she suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years prior to her death.
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