Review: “If This Was Happiness” by Barbara Leaming

I recently just finished this book of Rita Hayworth’s life, and I must say it was a read I thoroughly enjoyed. This book is kind of hard to find, as it seems that only a few sellers carry it on Amazon, but I am sure you won’t be disappointed when you receive it. I began reading it and immediately was drawn in.

Starting from her early childhood, she was made to perform. She was crippled by servere shyness, but came out of her shell when dancing as she was made to with her father. Her father was also incestuous, and rarely ever cared for his daughter as he should have. Her mother was unable to deal with her life and how her family was, and as a consequence became a heavy drinker.

Her romantic exploits did not fare much better throughout her life, either. Married five times, she really never found the happiness and home life she had been craving since a young age. You can see a definite pattern in how her incest early in her life has an affect on her later relationships. Leaming takes a very analytical turn with this, and demonstrates rather well how the two are connected and how Rita exhibits the classic signs of abuse.

Leaming also shows us the very private torture and pain in Rita’s later years as she dealt with Alzheimer’s Disease that was undiagnosed until 1980, and even then was a little-known disease. She also had a tendency to drink, and much of Hollywood assumed it was this drinking that was to blame for her erratic behavior. Little did anyone know that she was suffering from a terrible disease that would claim her life on 14 May 1987, at the age of sixty eight.

I think this book is amazing at portraying Rita’s life in a humane way, and not nearly as glamourous as the life most people think she led. Leaming makes this book seem to be a study in psychology, and makes it very compelling and touching at that. I would highly recommend this book to read to any of the Old Hollywood lovers out there, as well as anyone interested in the vintage scene and how life can certainly be a lot different than what most may assume.

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