Rita Moreno, 1931

  • Rita-Moreno-WWP

Woman Category: Theater & CinemaWoman Tags: Actress, Dancer, Latina Women, NYC Women, and Singer

  • HerStory

    Actress, dancer, and singer, the first Hispanic woman to win an Oscar and the third person to win all the four major entertainment awards – an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.

    Rosa Dolores Alverio was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, and grew up in nearby Juncos. At the age of 5, after her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to NYC. When her mother remarried, she adopted her stepfather’s surname – Moreno. The family settled in Valley Stream, New York, where she took dance classes and paved her way into the entertainment industry. At 11, she began dubbing Spanish-language versions of American films, and at 13, she had her Broadway debut, playing Angelina in Skydrift. Five years later, Moreno had her first big-screen appearance in the movie So Young, So Bad, and after it, she adapted her stage name – Rita Moreno. She acted throughout the 1950s, landing small roles in notable films such as Singin’ in the Rain and The King and I. In 1961, Moreno played Anita’s role in the film adaptation of West Side Story, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – the first Hispanic woman to win an Oscar. With such accolade in her resume, Moreno thought that she would be able to play less stereotypical characters for her next films, and with no such offer, she did not perform in another movie for the next seven years.
    At 33, she returned to Broadway, performing in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, and continued to play in one production after another, winning her Tony in 1975 for her depiction of Googie Gomez in The Ritz. In 1968 Moreno returned to film, starring alongside Marlon Brando in The Night of the Following Day. She continued to steadily appear on screen in different genres, from romantic comedies such as The Four Seasons to dramas such as King of the Corner. Moreno’s first serious role in TV was in 1971 in the children’s series The Electric Company, becoming recognized for shouting the show’s opening line, “Hey, you guys!” and winning a Grammy Award with her fellow cast members. In 1977, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for her appearance on The Muppet Show, becoming the first Hispanic woman and the third person to win an EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.
    Over the years, she made guest appearances on numerous TV shows, including The Love Boat, The Golden Girls, The Nanny, and Miami Vice, and steady roles in various acclaimed shows, such as Sister Pete on Oz and as the matriarch Lydia Riera on One Day at a Time.

    “It is through art that we will prevail and we will endure. It lives on after us and defines us as people.”

    “It is through art that we will prevail and we will endure. It lives on after us and defines us as people.”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Her nickname is Rosita.
    • Her mother was 17 when she had her.
    • She got married at 34 to Leonard Gordon, a cardiologist who became her manager. She has one daughter.
    • In 1954 she was featured on the cover of Life Magazine with the caption “Rita Moreno: An Actress’s Catalog of Sex and Innocence.
    • She is the star and executive produce of the 2021 Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.
    • She voiced Carmen Sandiego on the 90s’ animated series “Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?” and of Cookie Booker in the 2019 version.
    • She performed at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
    • In the 1960s, she tried to commit suicide after a mistreated abortion.
    • She was romantically involved with Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando.
    • Citizen Kane is her favorite film.
    • She performed solo in her autobiographical show Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup.
    • She is the first Latino to receive a Peabody Award.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (West Side Story, 1961)
    * Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (West Side Story, 1961)
    * Grammy Award for Best Album for Children (The Electric Company Album, 1972)
    * Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play (The Ritz, 1975)
    * Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program (1977)
    * Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series (for The Rockford Files, 1978)
    * Special Recognition Award from the International Latin Music Hall of Fame (2001)
    * Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush (2004)
    * Inducted into the California Hall of Fame (2007)
    * National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama (2009)
    * Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2012)
    * Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (2015)
    * Peabody Career Achievement Award (2019)

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Booking.com

  • West Side Story (4/10) Movie CLIP - America (1961) HD

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    Anita (Rita Moreno) sings about the great land of America.

    Romeo and Juliet is updated to the tenements of New York City in this Oscar-winning musical landmark. Adapted by Ernest Lehman from the Broadway production, the movie opens with an overhead shot of Manhattan, an effect that director Robert Wise would repeat over the Alps in The Sound of Music four years later. We are introduced to two rival street gangs: the Jets, second-generation American teens, and the Sharks, Puerto Rican immigrants. When the war between the Jets and Sharks reaches a fever pitch, Jets leader Riff (Russ Tamblyn) decides to challenge the Sharks to one last "winner take all" rumble. He decides to meet Sharks leader Bernardo (George Chakiris) for a war council at a gymnasium dance; to bolster his argument, Riff wants his old pal Tony (Richard Beymer), the cofounder of the Jets, to come along. But Tony has set his sights on vistas beyond the neighborhood and has fallen in love with Bernardo's sister, Maria (Natalie Wood), a love that, as in Romeo and Juliet, will eventually end in tragedy. In contrast to the usual slash-and-burn policy of Hollywood musical adaptations, all the songs written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for the original Broadway production of West Side Story were retained for the film version, although some alterations were made to appease the Hollywood censors, and the original order of two songs was reversed for stronger dramatic impact. The movie more than retains the original choreography of Jerome Robbins, which is recreated in some of the most startling and balletic dance sequences ever recorded on film. West Side Story won an almost-record ten Oscars, including Best Picture, supporting awards to Chakiris and Rita Moreno as Bernardo's girlfriend, Anita, and Best Director to Robbins and Wise. Richard Beymer's singing was dubbed by Jimmy Bryant, Natalie Wood's by Marni Nixon (who also dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady), and Rita Moreno's by Betty Wand. The film's New York tenement locations were later razed to make room for Lincoln Center.

    TM & © MGM (1961)
    Cast: Jose De Vega, Jay Norman, Jaime Rogers, Larry Roquemore, Robert E. Thompson, Gus Trikonis, Eddie Verso, Rita Moreno, Marni Nixon
    Directors: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
    Producers: Saul Chaplin, Robert Wise, Walter Mirisch
    Screenwriters: Ernest Lehman, Arthur Laurents, William Shakespeare, Jerome Robbins

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  • Citations and Additional References:
    All Music website.
    Wikipedia page.