I had never seen this ad before today, and I had to do a doubletake. I saw the Paul Masson spokesman with a younger woman at his shoulder, and the words “generation gap,” and I cringed. Are they getting drunk together? Doesn’t he already get drunk off wine; is liquor even necessary at this point? Oh, wait, he’s dead. Did he die from drinking? Was the point to show that old coots could pick up younger Janis Joplin wannabes by buying them a glass of smooth, light, mellow whiskey? Ewwww.
So many thoughts ran through my head of this dirty old man and this disillusioned woman who was clearly too young to be sipping what old bankers drink in their dens, while wearing robes and smoking pipes. But then I read the ad. It’s his daughter. His daughter with Rita Hayworth. And she’s dead, too. Technically, all three of them are dead.
MORE thoughts ran through my head. Like the fact that Rita Hayworth, although Alzheimer’s-ravaged at the end, was once sane and gorgeous, so why ON EARTH would she ever consent to lie down beneath Orson Welles? I had to investigate.
As it happened, he wooed her in his post-Citizen Kane, pre-morbidly obese era (he topped out just under 400 lbs or 180 kg). Both had divorced prior spouses in 1942, and were ready to “walk the plank” again the following year.
Wasn’t baby Rebecca a cutie?
He does appear somewhat deranged in this pic:
The servant boy in the pic seems to rather enjoy these two Hollywood heavyweights simulating a cocktail-infused bullfight (she as bullfighter; he as bull) smack dab in the middle of the nursery. Or is she simply folding a blanket, and he dancing a merry jig? Either way, the union didn’t last long, due to alleged infidelities. In 1948 Hayworth filed for divorce, saying, “I can’t take his genius any more.” Apparently, alcohol + crazy + cheating + a touch of ego = recipe for disaster.
But don’t worry; they both married again. And again. And again. However, five hours before his death, Welles paid Hayworth a compliment, telling Merv Griffin that he was “lucky enough to have been with her longer than any of the other men in her life.” I guess they were pretty cute together, if only for a season.