Rita Moreno

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Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno face.jpg
Rita Moreno (2011)
BornRosa Dolores Alverío
(1931-12-11) December 11, 1931 (age 83)
Humacao, Puerto Rico
NationalityPuerto Rican-American
OccupationActress, Singer, Dancer
Years active1950–present
Spouse(s)Leonard Gordon (m. 1965–2010) (1 child)
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Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno face.jpg
Rita Moreno (2011)
BornRosa Dolores Alverío
(1931-12-11) December 11, 1931 (age 83)
Humacao, Puerto Rico
NationalityPuerto Rican-American
OccupationActress, Singer, Dancer
Years active1950–present
Spouse(s)Leonard Gordon (m. 1965–2010) (1 child)

Rita Dolores Moreno (born December 11, 1931) is a Puerto Rican actress and singer. She is the only Hispanic and one of the few performers[1] to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards, which include an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony, and was the second Puerto Rican to win an Oscar.[2]

Early years

Moreno, nicknamed "Rosita", was born Rosa Dolores Alverío[3] in Humacao, Puerto Rico to Rosa María (née Marcano), a seamstress, and Francisco José "Paco" Alverío, a farmer. Moreno, whose mother was 17 at the time of her birth, was raised in nearby Juncos.[4][5] Rita's mother moved to New York City in 1936, taking her daughter, but not her son, Rita's younger brother, Francisco. Rita would later adopt the surname of her first stepfather, Edward Moreno, Rosa Maria's second husband, by whom Rita would have a younger stepbrother, Dennis Moreno, who died in a car crash.[5]


Rita began her first dancing lessons soon after arriving in New York with a Spanish dancer known as "Paco Cansino", who was a paternal uncle of film star Rita Hayworth.[6] When she was 11 years old, she lent her voice to Spanish language versions of American films. She had her first Broadway role — as "Angelina" in Skydrift — by the time she was 13, which caught the attention of Hollywood talent scouts.

Early roles

She appeared in small roles in The Toast of New Orleans[7] and Singin' in the Rain, in which she played the starlet "Zelda Zanders". In March 1954, Moreno was featured on the cover of Life Magazine with a caption, "Rita Moreno: An Actresses' Catalog of Sex and Innocence".[8][9] In 1956, she had a supporting role in the film version of The King and I as Tuptim, but disliked most of her other work during this period.[10]

West Side Story and its aftermath

In 1961, Moreno landed the role of Anita in Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins' film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musical, West Side Story, which had been played by Chita Rivera on Broadway. Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for that role.[11]

Rita Moreno, 1963

After winning the Oscar, Moreno thought she would be able to continue to perform less stereotypical film roles, but was disappointed.

"Ha, ha. I showed them. I didn't make another movie for seven years after winning the Oscar.... Before West Side Story, I was always offered the stereotypical Latina roles. The Conchitas and Lolitas in westerns. I was always barefoot. It was humiliating, embarrassing stuff. But I did it because there was nothing else. After West Side Story, it was pretty much the same thing. A lot of gang stories."[12]

She went on to be the first Hispanic to win an Oscar (1962), a Grammy (1972), a Tony (1975), and an Emmy (1977). In 1985, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago.[11]

Other roles

She starred in Summer and Smoke (1961), Cry of Battle (1963), and afterwards, The Night of the Following Day (1968), Popi (1969), Marlowe (1969), Carnal Knowledge (1971) and The Ritz (1976). From 1971 to 1977, Moreno played many characters on the PBS children's series The Electric Company, most notably Millie the Helper. In fact, it was Moreno who screamed the show's opening line, "HEY, YOU GUYS!" She also had roles as the naughty little girl Pandora, and "Otto", the very short-tempered director. Rita Moreno appeared in the family variety series The Muppet Show, and she made other guest appearances on television series such as The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, The Cosby Show, George Lopez, The Golden Girls, and Miami Vice. She was also a regular on the first three seasons of the sitcom version of Nine to Five (based on the film hit) during the early 1980s.[10]

Broadway and television

Moreno's Broadway credits include The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Gantry, The Ritz, for which she won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress, and the female version of The Odd Couple.[10] In 1993 she was invited to perform at President Bill Clinton's inauguration and later that month was asked to perform at the White House.[2] During the mid-1990s, Moreno provided the voice of Carmen Sandiego on Fox's animated series Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?[13] In 1995, she co-starred with Charlton Heston, Mickey Rooney, Deborah Winters and Peter Graves in the Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

In the late 1990s, she gained exposure to a new generation of viewers when she played Sister Pete, a nun trained as a psychologist in the popular HBO series, Oz for which she won an ALMA Award. She made a guest appearance on The Nanny as Coach Stone, Maggie's (Nicholle Tom) tyrannical gym teacher, whom Fran Fine also remembered from her school as Ms. Wickavich.[14]

Performing in the 21st century

Moreno continues to be active on stage and screen, and as a singer. In 2006, she portrayed Amanda Wingfield in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's revival of The Glass Menagerie. She had a recurring role on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as the dying mother of Detective Robert Goren. She was a regular on the short-lived TV series Cane, which starred Jimmy Smits and Hector Elizondo. In 2011, she accepted the role of the mother of Fran Drescher's character in the TV sitcom Happily Divorced.[15] She released an eponymous album of nightclub songs in 2000 on the Varèse Sarabande label, with liner notes by Michael Feinstein.[16]

In September 2011, Moreno began performing a solo autobiographical show at the Berkeley Rep (theater) in Berkeley, California, Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup written by Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone after hours of interviews with Moreno.[8] In 2014, it was announced that Rita Moreno has been cast in NBC's television film Old Soul, alongside Natasha Lyonne, Fred Willard and Ellen Burstyn.[17]

Personal life

Moreno had an eight-year-long affair with actor Marlon Brando.[18] On June 18, 1965, Moreno married Leonard Gordon, a cardiologist who was also her manager. He died on June 30, 2010.[19] They have one daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher,[11] and two grandsons, Justin and Cameron Fisher.[20] In an interview with Good Day LA, Moreno stated that Elvis Presley was not a good lover. They dated for quite some time, but whenever the opportunity presented itself to take the relationship to another level, Presley backed off.[21]

Selected awards

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004

Among Moreno's awards and recognitions are the following:



1950So Young So BadDolores GuererroRosita Moreno
1950Toast of New Orleans, TheThe Toast of New OrleansTina
1950Pagan Love SongTerru
1952The RingLucy Gomez
1952Singin' in the RainZelda Zanders
1952The Fabulous SenoritaManuela Rodríguez
1952Cattle TownQueli
1953Fort VengeanceBridget Fitzgibbon
1953Ma and Pa Kettle on VacationSoubretteUncredited
1953Latin LoversChristina
1953Alaméin, ElEl AlaméinJara
1954The Yellow TomahawkHoney Bear
1954Garden of EvilCantina Singer
1955Seven Cities of GoldUla
1956Lieutenant Wore Skirts, TheThe Lieutenant Wore SkirtsSandra Roberts
1956King and I, TheThe King and ITuptim
1956Vagabond King, TheThe Vagabond KingHuguette
1957Deerslayer, TheThe DeerslayerHetty Hutter
1960This Rebel BreedLola Montalvo
1961West Side StoryAnita
1961Summer and SmokeRosa Zacharias
1963Cry of BattleSisa
1968Night of the Following Day, TheThe Night of the Following DayVi
1969MarloweDolores Gonzáles
1971Carnal KnowledgeLouise
1976The RitzGoogie Gomez
1977Voodoo Passion
1978Boss' Son, TheThe Boss' SonEsther Rose
1980Happy Birthday, GeminiLucille Pompi
1981Four Seasons, TheThe Four SeasonsClaudia Zimmer
1991Age Isn't EverythingRita
1993Italian MovieIsabella
1994I Like It Like ThatRosaria Linares
1995Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My BusinessHerselfDocumentary
1995AngusMadame Rulenska
1995America: A Call to GreatnessHerselfDocudrama
1998Slums of Beverly HillsBelle AbromowitzNominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film in a Crossover Role
1999Carlo's WakeAngela Torello
1999Puerto Ricans: Our American Story, TheThe Puerto Ricans: Our American StoryHerselfDocumentary
2000Blue MoonMaggie
2001PiñeroMiguel's Mother
2003Casa de los BabysSeñora Muñoz
2003Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of MexicoDona Dolores and Woman#3Voice
2003Beyond Borders: John Sayles in MexicoHerselfDocumentary
2004King of the CornerInez
2006Play It By EarRuth
2014Rio 2MimiVoice
2014Six Dance Lessons in Six WeeksIda BarksdalePost-Production


1958Father Knows BestChanthiniEpisode: "Fair Exchange" (24 November 1958)
1960Bourbon Street BeatManuela RuizEpisode: "Suitable for Framing" (16 May 1960)
1963Burke's LawMargaret CowlsEpisode: "Who Killed Julian Buck?" (18 October 1963)
1971–77Electric Company, TheThe Electric CompanyCarmela
Otto The Director
Pandora the Little Girl, Millie the Helper
780 episodes
1974Dominic's DreamAnita Bente
1974Out to LunchVariousNominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music
1976Muppet Show, TheThe Muppet ShowHerself
  • Episode #1.5
  • Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music
1978Rockford Files, TheThe Rockford FilesRita Capkovic
1979Anatomy of a SeductionNina
1979Muppets Go Hollywood, TheThe Muppets Go HollywoodHerself/HostSpecial
1981Evita PerónRenata Riguel
1982–839 to 5Violet Newstead
1982Portrait of a ShowgirlRosella DeLeonNominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1986Golden GirlsReneeEpisode: "Empty Nest"
1987Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby ShowMrs. GrangerEpisode: "You Only Hurt the One You Love"
1989–90B.L. StrykerKimberly Baskin2 episodes
1994Nanny, TheThe NannyMiss Wickervich/Mrs. StoneEpisode: "The Gym Teacher"
1994–98Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?Carmen SandiegoVoice
Nominated - Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program (1995, 1996, 1997)
1994–95Cosby Mysteries, TheThe Cosby MysteriesAngie Corea2 episodes
1995Wharf Rat, TheThe Wharf RatMom
1995Magic School Bus, TheThe Magic School BusDr. Camrina SkeledonEpisode: "The Busasaurus"
1997–2003OzSister Peter Marie Reimondo
  • 44 episodes
  • ALMA Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series (1998–99, 2002)
  • Nominated — ALMA Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series (2000–01)
1998Spree, TheThe SpreeIrma Kelly
2004CopshopMary Alice
2005Law & Order: Special Victims UnitMildred QuintanaEpisode: "Night"
2005Law & Order: Trial by JuryMildred QuintanaEpisode: "Day"
2006–07Law & Order: Criminal IntentFrances Goren3 episodes: "Endgame"; "The War at Home" and "Brother's Keeper"
2007George LopezLuisa DiazEpisode: "George Testi-Lies for Benny"
2007Ugly BettyAunt MirtaEpisode: "A Tree Grows in Guadalajara"
2007CaneAmalia Duque13 episodes
2010In Plain SightRita RamirezEpisode: "Coma Chameleon"
2011Special Agent OsoAbuelaVoice
Episode: "For Tamales with Love/Pinata Royale"
2011–2013Happily DivorcedDori Newman
2013Nicky DeuceTuttiTV Movie
2014Old SoulRitaTV Movie
Currently FIlming

See also


  1. ^ Nicole Lyn Pesce; Joe Dziemianowicz and Margaret Eby (3 March 2014). "Oscars 2014: Bobby Lopez becomes youngest person to get an EGOT with Best Original Song win for 'Let It Go'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Speakers on healthcare
  3. ^ "SAG Awards 2014: Rita Moreno receives lifetime achievement award"; New York Times
  4. ^ Rita Moreno: A Memoir. Celebra (Penguin Group). 2013. ISBN 9780451416377. 
  5. ^ a b Rita Moreno profile at FilmReference.com
  6. ^ Rita Moreno Interview 2000 on YouTube.
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin (March 22, 1950). "TV Tempts Crawford' Betty Garrett Ending MGM Pact; "Mother" Set". The Los Angeles Times. 
  8. ^ a b "Rita Moreno’s life laid bare in "Life without Makeup"". Berkeleyside. September 8, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ 1954 March 1 LIFE Magazine - RITA MORENO - Marilyn Monroe
  10. ^ a b c Rita Moreno at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ a b c Rita Moreno fan site
  12. ^ "Rita Moreno overcame Hispanic stereotypes to achieve stardom". The Miami Herald. September 14, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  13. ^ Mangan, Jennifer (May 4, 1994). "'Educating Rita". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  14. ^ All American Speakers
  15. ^ Rita Moreno: 1931 — : Actress, Singer, Dancer - Demonstrated Versatile Talents
  16. ^ Rita Moreno, Varèse Sarabande 302 066 189 2 (2000)
  17. ^ Nellie Andreeva (February 8, 2014). "Rita Moreno to Co-Star in Amy Poehler's NBC Comedy Pilot 'Old Soul'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014. 
  18. ^ "After Trying Hollywood, Brando and Suicide, Rita Moreno Has Settled Down". People. April 21, 1975. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Gordon, Leonard". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Corporation). July 11, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ LA Times
  21. ^ Good Day LA Interview with Rita Moreno, August 6, 2013
  22. ^ Moreno inducted into California Hall of Fame, California Museum, Accessed 2007
  23. ^ White House Announces 2009 National Medal of Arts Recipients
  24. ^ Rita Moreno Honored With SAG Life Achievement Award during the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards; accessed January 19, 2014]

External links