Moreno, Rita (1931–)
Moreno, Rita (1931–)
Puerto Rican actress, singer, and dancer. Name variations: Rosita Moreno; Rosita Cosio. Born Rosa Dolores Alverio, Dec 11, 1931, in Humacao, Puerto Rico; m. Leonard Gordon (physician), 1965; children: Fernanda Luisa (actress).
Had to endure many years cast as "Latin spitfire" or "Indian princess," images that were frequently the only roles available for Hispanic actresses; made film debut as a delinquent in So Young, So Bad and signed with MGM (1950); had minor roles in 25 movies, the most notable of which were The Toast of New Orleans and Pagan Love Song (1950); dropped by MGM but continued as a freelancer, usually appearing as the Latin vamp in such films as The Fabulous Señorita (1952), Cattle Town (1952), Latin Lovers (1953), and Jivaro (1954); also played an Arab in El Alamein (1953) and a Native American in Fort Vengeance (1953) and The Yellow Tomahawk (1954); signed with 20th Century-Fox; sang in Garden of Evil (1954), did a Marilyn Monroe takeoff in The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (1955), and was cast as a Burmese slave girl in The King and I (1956); got 1st break with supporting role of Anita in film version of West Side Story (1961); appeared on stage in Summer and Smoke (1961) and Cry of Battle (1963); starred in She Loves Me in London and The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window in NY (1964); received excellent reviews for performance in The Rose Tattoo in Chicago (1968); returned to film in The Night of the Following Day (1969), followed by Marlowe (1969), Popi (1969), and Carnal Knowledge (1971); began appearing on CTW's "Electric Company" (1971); appeared on Broadway as Googie Gomez in The Ritz (1975), followed by film version (1976); other movies include The Boss's Son (1979), Happy Birthday, Gemini (1980) and The Four Seasons (1981); was the only performer to win all 4 of the entertainment world's major awards. Won a Golden Globe (1962) and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (1961), both for West Side Story; won a Grammy Award (1972) for "The Electric Company"; won Emmy Award for "Out to Lunch" (1975) and "The Muppet Show" (1977); won Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Ritz (1975); won Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for "The Rockford Files" (1978); received Sarah Siddons Award (1985) and Hispanic Heritage Award (1990).
See also Susan Suntree, Rita Moreno (Chelsea House, 1993); and Women in World History.