Rita’s friendship had survived all of my dad’s relationships with women, and it survived Cynthia’s too. For years their relationship had been so close and casual that Dad would often come home to find Rita at the bar fixing herself a drink or sunbathing by his pool. Sometimes she wanted to talk and unburden herself about something, other times she wanted to be left alone. His home was an escape for her, and my father respected her whims. They would go out to dinner on occasion or accompany each other to events and premieres. During the “Cynthia years” Dad saw much less or Rita but still stayed in touch. When he called to check on her now and then she seemed either in a perceptual state of unreal enthusiasm or on the verge of tears. Suspicious of most people, she seldom admitted visitors or came to the phone. Sadly, she was an alcoholic, and much of her depressed and erratic behavior was due to her drinking.
In 1979 Rita sold the house next door and took an apartment in Beverly Hills, and most people agree that she was never the same. She had fallen in with some people who took control of her life, and they did not serve her well. Much alter we learned that Rita was suffering from a debilitating disease few people had ever heard of at the time: Alzheimer’s. It slowly eroded her mind, with tragic results. It wasn’t long before Rita’s loving daughter, Princess Yasmin, decided to bring her mother back to New York to live with her in a large condo on Central Park West. My father stayed in touch with Yasmin, but he declined to visit Rita in New York. He found the prospect too heartbreaking. “I wanted to remember her as she was,” he said. My father was one of the pallbearers at Rita’s funeral.
—Peter Ford, Glenn Ford: A Life