earl theisen

2

Rita Hayworth poses as Whistler’s Mother for Look Magazine feature Stars in roles they’d like to play. The photography was taken by Earl Theisen in 1945.

When Rita Hayworth, the Hollywood actress, was asked by Look magazine how she would cast herself, she chose Whistler’s Mother. Consequently, the article features a picture of Hayworth assuming the same pose but with her legs in full view, with the picture on the wall displaying her lying on a bed clothed in a two-piece bathing suit. The article explains that « Rita Hayworth, a mother herself, longs to portrait Whistler’s Mother with emphasis on the whistle ». The whistlers, of course, are men, who are likely to be less interested in the fact that she is a mother than that she is an attractive woman, The allusion to the male habit of whistling at an alluring woman (a far cry from the woman in the original portrait) brings us back, full-cicle, to the humorous connotations of the painter’s name.
At Home in the World: A Study in Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Art - Donald Capps