One of the defining silver screen sex symbols, Rita Hayworth was born with the much less American-sounding name, Margarita Carmen Cansino.
She was raised in a Spanish dance family, and spent much of her childhood dancing in bars (see? It's totally a legitimate way to raise a kid.) After Hayworth, er, Cansino's father moved the family to Hollywood, the 16-year-old signed with Fox studios. She tried a few minor roles, but never got her big break. Fox studios decided not to renew her option.
Columbia Pictures came along and, not being much for political correctness, pretty much told Cansino that her lack of success was due to her being way too Spanish-y. So, Cansino agreed to go along with a few surgical processes, such as:
A. Painful Hairline Electrolysis
Cansino had a low hairline, which pegged her as a Latina. This is the same discrimination which kept Vega out of the World Warrior tournament, until he wore a mask to conceal his hairline.
Cansino submitted to getting electric shocks to kill her follicles and stop them from growing. Keep in mind this is the 1930s, when "anaesthesiology" usually meant "stroking your hand while you chugged from a flask of bourbon." Next time you have a hot hair curler or a live wire, poke yourself in the forehead with it several hundred times. Now you're as pretty as Rita Hayworth... well, not yet, you still need some...
B. Skin Lightening
Now that you've got fresh shock marks on your forehead, scrub them with this bleach solution. That's exactly what Cansino did, all over her entire body. Skin lightening is a dangerously unregulated practice even now, but it was significantly worse 70 years ago. But, Cansino wasn't done yet, before she signed with Columbia, she also had to have a...
C. Hair Color and Name Change
Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth. Her dark hair was died auburn. The transformation complete, Rita Hayworth now looked Saltine enough for Columbia:
Not five years before, the young immigrant's daughter was dancing in smoky bars for coins. After her "honky-fication," she became the hottest thing in sanctioned Armed Forces self-pleasure. A picture of her kneeling on a bed in a nightgown sold 5 million copies. Her likeness was fashioned on the side of atomic bombs.
Columbia starred Hayworth in many successful pictures, most notably, Gilda. Rita Hayworth found herself dancing with stars like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Eventually, she settled down and married a prince.
The next time somebody tells you the path to success is "just be yourself," tell them Rita's inspirational story. It's all about skin-bleaching.
Well, not always...
So let's say it's 1990 and you're a white Vietnam War veteran with several communications degrees and some seriously aggressive social skills. You also, somehow, need to land a job.
Instead of buying a fake wheelchair, tucking his arms into his coat, and begging for money on the street, Ward Churchill did the only-slightly-less-questionable move of pretending he was American Indian to get a job as a professor.
In terms of flipping race for profit, every single celebrity we've listed makes Ward Churchill look lazy. Churchill's solution to changing his honky heritage was to put on a pair of sunglasses.
Native American. The glasses add persecution.
When questioned about his heritage, Churchill mentions he was a member of a tribe called the United Keetoowah Band. It turns out this a tribe who gives out cards to many non-native celebs, including Bill Clinton.
The University of Colorado, where Churchill taught, found itself in a bind. The hiring of Ward based on Indian heritage was hush-hush, so firing him for not being American Indian posed many problems. In fact, they bypassed the usual six-year probationary period and Ph.D. requirement in order to "snap up" Churchill, making them look like fast-acting idiots.
Then, things began looking extra grim for the university when Churchill published a paper comparing 2001 WTC employees to the orchestrators of the Holocaust.
Ward Churchill was paid nearly $100,000 every year for 17 years, mostly to spout off aggressive rhetoric about "his" people, the Native Americans.
And even that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it hadn't come out that most of it wasn't true. By the time anyone figured it out, Ward had published 14 books on the subject.
Notice his glasses are on. He's in full Indian mode.
In the end, Churchill was canned. He sued the school for wrongful termination. The court agreed with Churchill, but also agreed that he was a complete douchesack, awarding him the jerk-anointing sum of $1.