Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno is the only female performer to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony and the Grammy. She has, in fact been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for this achievement. She earned the Oscar for her performance as Anita in the 1962 motion picture, West Side Story, the two Emmys for her 1977 appearance on The Muppet Show, and for a dramatic guest appearance on The Rockford Files in 1978. She won the Tony for her 1975 triumph on Broadway as Googie Gomez in The Ritz, the Grammy for her 1972 performance on The Electric Company Album for children, which was based on the long running television show of the same name.

Along the way she received dozens of other show business awards, most notably, The Golden Globe Award, The Golden Apple Award, and the Joseph Jefferson Award as best actress in Chicago's theatrical season In 1968 for her brilliant performance as Serafina in The Rose Tattoo. In 1985 she repeated her Chicago triumph and was awarded the prestigious Sarah Siddons Award for her portrayal of Olive Madison in the female version of The Odd Couple. In 1995 Ms. Moreno received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ms. Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, a small town near the famous rain forest of Puerto Rico. At five years old, she and her mother moved to New York and the following year she started dancing lessons. At age 13, she had her Broadway debut in Skydrift which starred Eli Wallach. Then, in the true tradition of Hollywood, a talent scout arranged a meeting for 17 year old Miss Moreno with Louis B. Mayer and she was signed for a contract with MGM.

From that point on her career advanced steadily. She made some thirty films early in her career, and was often typecast as a Mexican spitfire or and Indian maiden. Among the films she make during this period were Untamed, Seven Cities of Gold, The Lieutenant Wore Skirts, an d Garden of Evil. She was also featured as Tuptim in the classic, The King and I. It was only after she won an Academy Award for her outstanding performance as Anita in West Side Story which gained international acclaim, that she was finally recognized as a major talent.

In 1962 she moved to London where she was featured in Hal Prince's production of She Loves Me. She then resumed to New York to star in Lorraine Hansbury's, The Sign In Sidney Brustein's Window. On Broadway she has also appeared as the female lead with Robert Shaw in Gantry. She was also cast opposite Jimmy Coco in The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and in award winning role in The National Health. Miss Moreno then starred in The Ritz for which she received the Tony Award. In 1981 she returned to Broadway, once again opposite Jimmy Coco in Wally's Cafe. She was most recently seen on Broadway in the female version of Neil Simon's Odd Couple. In 1996 she stared in the London product ion of Sunset Boulevard.

Ms. Moreno has appeared in many regional theatres, in such diverse roles as Lola in Damn Yankees, Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, Doris in The Owl and the Pussycat, Amends Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie and Mama Rose in Gypsy.
It may be said that Rita Moreno, who has portrayed an Irish teacher, and Italian widow, a reformed prostitute, a lady evangelist, an English lady, and a southern belle, has broken the rigid role of Latino stereotyping.

In 1967, Ms. Moreno resumed her screen career playing opposite Marlon Brando in The Night of the Following Day then with James Garner in Marlowe, as Alan Arkin's girlfriend in Popi, and in Mike Nichol's production of Carnal Knowledge. She then starred in the film version of The Ritz. She went on to do Alan Alda's The Four Seasons, with Carol Burnett in 1993 after a brief hiatus from film she completed the independent film The Italian Movie and then in 1994, the highly acclaimed Columbia Pictures release. Like it Like That.

In 1995, Ms . Moreno was featured in the Showtime Feature, Wharf Rat, opposite Lou Diamond Phillips and Judge Reinhold and in the feature film Angus with George C. Scott. More recenlty she was the lead in the Independent feature Carlo's Wake and in 1999 she completed the film Blue Moon opposite Ben Gazzara. The following year she appeared in the highly acclaimed film Pinero starring Benjamin Bratt and in the year 2002 she completed work in a new John Sayles film.

Ms. Moreno has also been the guest star on a wide variety of television productions, both here and abroad. She is proud to have been a featured artist for many years on The Electric Company, the highly regarded educational television program. She starred in her own TV series, the sitcom version of the film 9 to 5. From 1989 1990 she played opposite Burt Reynolds in B.L Stryker and in 1991/1992 in the Fox Network series, The Top of the Heap. In 1994 Ms. Moreno returned to New York to appear as a series regular opposite Bill Cosby on the Cosby Mystery Series on NBC.

In 1995 Ms. Moreno resumed to the New York stage in Anne Meara's After Play and in Circle Repertory's production of Size Of the World. In the fall of 1995, Miss Moreno again won the acclaim of the London audiences when she returned to the London stage in the starring role of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webbers' Sunset Blvd.She continues to be kept busy performing concerts across the country as a guest artist with symphony orchestras for their Pops series.

In addition to her film, stage, television and concert careers, Ms. Moreno fills her spare time by lecturing to various organizations as well as to university audiences. She is also involved with a number of civic and charitable organizations and events. She has served on the National Foundation for the Arts and as a commissioner on the Presidents White House Fellowships. Ms. Moreno is currently a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Rita Moreno is married to Leonard Gordon, a physician. Their daughter, Fernanda, is an actress and artist.


 

Back to Personalities Page

Back to Main Page