In the summer of 1941, just a few months before Pearl Harbor was attacked, LIFE magazine ran a black-and-white photograph of an up-and-coming movie actress named Rita Hayworth. In the photo, the redheaded beauty is kneeling on a bed made up with satin sheets. Her silky nightgown is white, with black lace trimming the low-cut top. She's smiling slightly for photographer Bob Landry. The snapshot would become one of the most popular pin-ups of World War II. It was during the filming of You'll Never Get Rich that the 1941 silk-and-lace LIFE magazine photo was taken.

   LIFE magazine was crucial to the moviemakers. Pictures in the magazine brought people to the movie houses. John Morris, who began working in LIFE's Beverly Hills office shortly after the photo was taken, says each of the big studios had an individual press agent specifically assigned to the magazine. At Columbia Pictures, where Hayworth was under contract, the press agent lobbied LIFE to run photos of the glamorous 23-year-old dancer-actress. Photographer Bob Landry showed up with his camera. The details surrounding the photo shoot are unclear. One story has it that the photo was taken in Hayworth's own bedroom, but another suggests that she knelt on a bed on the movie set. The sexy lace nightie was either made by the press agent's mother or came from Columbia Pictures' prop department. A flashbulb may or may not have failed — sculpting the shadow on Hayworth's chest. One rumor has it that someone told Hayworth to take a deep breath before the famous shot, making the image even more provocative. The details are fuzzy, but the image made that day became a cultural icon, even if it wasn't a cover shot. Four months after Hayworth's photo was published, America went to war. And soldiers took the silk-and-lace picture along to remind them of home. By the end of the war, more than five million copies of the photo were sold. Only Betty Grable, smiling cutely over her shoulder in a white bathing suit and heels, with legs that went on forever, sold more pin-ups. Are you ready to meet Rita & Company – The Gorgeous Pinup Girls We Took to War? If so, follow the flyboys below to the pinup show (just click on 'em), or select a particular glamour girl from the dropdown. To return to the main pinup page, click here.




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