Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
What Rita Hayworth meant to every GI and millions of fans was revisited Sunday night as she threw her red hair back and teased with quick flashes of her long legs while tapping away with Fred Astaire across the dance floor of an empty night club.
But alas it was a film clip from the movie titled "You Were Never Lovelier" that should have been preceded by "Rita".
The occasion was a dinner sponsored by the National Film Society in the Palladin Room at the Shoreham Americana Hotel to present the Hollywood actress with the National Screen Heritage Award for her life's work in the motion picture industry.
Two hundred film buffs who for the past three convention days moved through the attic of movie memories waited to see and hear the star.
Alice Becker, chairman of the National Film Society, apologized for Hayworth's absence during the dinner, saying, "She cannot sit at the banquet, she will be mobbed." But the people there didn't seem to think so, James Harvey, an actor, said, "Those types of stars don't exist anymore. I would have been here anyway,"
Then, after the meal had been eaten, and as a three piece orchestra played "Long Ago and Far Away," 59-year-old Rita Hayworth appeared. She stood in the doorway a moment and looked at the audience. Hesitating, her face bore the look of a professional actress who wonders when she will no longer have to go on stage then she smiled a wide smile and walked, with escorts on each side, through a path for her to the podium.
She wore a long black gown with sequins, her hair now more blonde than red. There was a tiny stumble on the two steps on the way up.
The star of many films in the 1940s, Hayworth was hospitalized earlier this year for alcoholism but has, intimates say, been winning the battle and has been talking of a film come back.
I want to thank you, not just thank you but thank you for tonight." she said in a firm voice. "I'm very touched." Then, to the sound of applause, she left the podium and posed for pictures for 10 minutes before leaving the hall.
Arnost Desourtis said. "She is still now to the collectors. it is difficult to believe that she is right in the same room."
Leslie Joroin, a librarian who came all the way from Minnepolis said she would have been here anyway, but it was nice that Rita Hayworth was here . An artist who came to see Rita said, "I wanted to see her again. Her hands and arms were always so beautiful."
During the three-day convention film fans from 30 states and several foreign countries saw motion pictures that spanned the entire early period of film history (1896-1936). Golden oldies like "Bulldog Drummond Comes Back" (John Barrymore, 1937), "Mayerling" (Charles Boyer, 1935). Movies like "His Majesty, the American" starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1926): "White Zebbie" (Bela Lugosi, 1932) and many more that made some of the older people think back to the dish night at the local Bijou.
Included also was a special series on early women directors in movies peresented by the American Film Institute. "Her Defiance" (Cleo Madsen, 1916): "The Blot (Louis Wcher, 1921) and "House Divided" (Alice Gay Blachic, 1913).
The evening ended and it was all yesterday for everyone there, and when they left with happiness to walk into a chilly rain on a Sunday night it made all the yesterday seem warmer for Rita Hayworth.