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Rita Moreno is a celebrated Puerto Rican actress, dancer, and singer. Her extensive and influential career has spanned over 70 years, starting with her Broadway debut at age 13. Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverío on December 11, 1931, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, and moved to New York City as a child. She began her career in theater and progressed to films and television.
Moreno's early work included appearances on Broadway and roles in minor Hollywood films. She often was cast in ethnic roles and faced typecasting due to Hollywood's limited vision for Hispanic performers at the time.
Breakthrough and Success
Her breakout role came in 1961 when she played Anita in the film adaptation of the musical "West Side Story." This performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first Latina actress to win an Oscar.
Rita Moreno is one of the few performers to have won all four major American entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. She achieved this with her Oscar in 1962, a Grammy in 1972 for her contribution to "The Electric Company" soundtrack, a Tony in 1975 for her performance in "The Ritz," and two Emmys in 1977 and 1978 for her work on "The Muppet Show" and "The Rockford Files."
Beyond her EGOT achievements, Moreno continues to be active in film, television, and theater. She has had a number of notable roles in TV series like "Oz," "Jane the Virgin," and the reboot of "One Day at a Time." In 2021, she appeared in Steven Spielberg's remake of "West Side Story" in a newly created role, paying tribute to her rich connection with the original film.
Advocacy and Legacy
A spirited advocate for the Latino community, Moreno has been actively involved in various social causes and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2004 and the National Medal of Arts by Barack Obama in 2009. Her work has paved the way for Latin American performers in the entertainment industry.
Autobiography and Documentary
In 2011, Moreno released her autobiography "Rita Moreno: A Memoir," where she shares her story and experiences in Hollywood. Additionally, a documentary about her life, "Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It," was released in 2021, offering an in-depth look at her life, challenges, and triumphs.
Throughout her life, Moreno has been open about her personal struggles, including discrimination in Hollywood and her tumultuous relationship with Marlon Brando. She has one daughter from her marriage to Leonard Gordon, whom she was married to from 1965 until his death in 2010.
Rita Moreno has been recognized as a trailblazer and a cultural icon, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Her talent and perseverance have not only earned her critical acclaim but also respect and admiration for her dedication to breaking barriers for future generations of actors from diverse backgrounds.