cover image If This Was Happiness

If This Was Happiness

Barbara Leaming. Viking Books, $19.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81978-2

Hayworth fans will learn much from this biography by the author of Orson Welles . The surprising story of the acutely shy Margarita Carmen Cansino, who was dubbed ``the Love Goddess,'' contains more melodrama than most romance novels. We follow Hayworth's life from reluctant child performer to incest victim, glamour queen and wife to Orson Welles and Prince Aly Kahn. Some readers will doubtless appreciate the details of the star's sex life and inner thoughts (``as her wedding day approached, Rita grew more anxious''). Yet aside from interviews with Welles, the book is based on secondary sources and information furnished by Hayworth's secretary, publicist, studio hairdresser and makeup man. As her chronicled fights with Columbia Pictures mogul Harry Cohn and court battles over divorce and child custody attest, fame and beauty assure no happy endings. Hayworth, a long-undiagnosed victim of Alzeimer's disease, died at age 68 in 1987. 50,000 first printing; first serial to Cosmopolitan and the Star; BOMC and Time/Life Condensed Books alternates; author tour. (Nov.)