Rita Moreno (born December 11, 1931) is a Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress. She is the only Hispanic and one of the few performers to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, and was the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award.

Early yearsEdit

Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverío in HumacaoPuerto Rico, to Rosa María (née Marcano), a seamstress, and Paco José Alverío, a farmer. She was raised in nearby Juncos[2]

[3] She moved with her mother to New York City at the age of five, and took the surname of her stepfather, Edward Moreno.[3]

She began her first dancing lessons soon after arriving in New York from a friend of her mother, a Spanish dancer, Paco Cansino, an uncle of Rita Hayworth.[4] 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.

She appeared in small roles in The Toast of New Orleans[5] 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".[6][7] 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.[8]

West Side Story and its aftermathEdit

In 1961, Moreno landed the role of Anita in Robert Wise's and Jerome Robbins' film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musicalWest Side Story, which was played by Chita Rivera on Broadway. Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for that role.[9]

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."[10]

Moreno went on to be the first Hispanic to win an Emmy (1977), a Grammy (1972), an Oscar (1962) and a Tony (1975). In 1985, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago.[9]

Other rolesEdit

Besides appearing in Singin' in the RainThe King and ISummer and Smoke (1961), West Side StoryThe Night of the Following Day (1968) and Carnal Knowledge (1971), Moreno appeared on the PBSchildren's series The Electric Company in the 1970s, most notably as 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 as "Otto", the very short-tempered director. 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 BoatThe Cosby ShowGeorge LopezThe Golden Girls, and Miami Vice. She was also a regular on the short-lived sitcom version of Nine to Five (based on the film hit) during the early 1980s.[8]

Broadway and televisionEdit

Moreno's Broadway credits include The Last of the Red Hot LoversGantryThe Ritz, for which she won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress, and the female version of The Odd Couple.[8] 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.[1] During the mid-1990s, Moreno provided the voice of Carmen Sandiego on theanimated Fox show Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?[11] In 1995, she co-starred with Charlton HestonMickey RooneyDeborah Winters and Peter Graves in the Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.[12]

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. She made a guest appearance on The Nannyas Coach Stone, Maggie's (Nicholle Tom) tyrannical gym teacher, whom Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) also remembered from her school as Ms. Wickavich.[13]

Performing in the 21st centuryEdit

Moreno continues to be active on stage and screen. 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 ofFran Drescher's character in the TV sitcom Happily Divorced.[14]

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.[6]

Family and Personal LifeEdit

Moreno dated Marlon Brando for eight years, and attempted suicide in his home in 1962.[15]

On June 18, 1965, Moreno married Leonard Gordon, a cardiologist who was also her manager. He died on June 30, 2010.[16] They have one daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher,[9] and two grandsons, Justin and Cameron Fisher.[17]

In an interview with Good Day LA, Moreno said Elvis Presley was not a good lover. They dated for quite some time, but each time when the opportunity presented itself to take the relationship to another level, Elvis always backed off.[18]


[1][2]Awarded thePresidential Medal of Freedom in 2004

Among Moreno's awards and recognitions are the following:



Year Title Role Notes
1950 So Young So Bad Dolores Guererro as Rosita Moreno
1950 The Toast of New Orleans Tina
1950 Pagan Love Song Terru
1952 The Ring Lucy Gomez
1952 Singin' in the Rain Zelda Zanders
1952 The Fabulous Señorita Manuela Rodríguez
1952 Cattle Town Queli
1953 Fort Vengeance Bridget Fitzgibbon
1953 Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation Soubrette uncredited
1953 Latin Lovers Christina
1953 El Alaméin Jara
1954 Jivaro Maroa
1954 The Yellow Tomahawk Honey Bear
1954 Garden of Evil Cantina Singer
1955 Untamed Julia
1955 Seven Cities of Gold Ula
1956 The Lieutenant Wore Skirts Sandra Roberts
1956 The King and I Tuptim
1956 The Vagabond King Huguette
1957 The Deerslayer Hetty Hutter
1960 This Rebel Breed Lola Montalvo
1961 West Side Story Anita *Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress*Laurel Award for Best Supporting Performance
1961 Summer and Smoke Rosa Zacharias
1963 Cry of Battle Sisa
1968 The Night of the Following Day Vi
1969 Popi Lupe
1969 Marlowe Dolores Gonzáles
1971 Carnal Knowledge Louise
1976 The Ritz Googie Gomez *Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role*Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1977 Voodoo Passion
1978 The Boss' Son Esther Rose
1980 Happy Birthday, Gemini Lucille Pompi
1981 The Four Seasons Claudia Zimmer
1991 Age Isn't Everything Rita
1993 Italian Movie Isabella
1994 I Like It Like That Rosaria Linares
1995 Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business Herself documentary
1995 Angus Madame Rulenska
1995 America: A Call to Greatness Herself docudrama
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Belle Abromowitz Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film in a Crossover Role
1999 Carlo's Wake Angela Torello
1999 The Puerto Ricans: Our American Story Herself documentary
2000 Blue Moon Maggie
2001 Piñero Miguel's Mother
2003 Casa de los Babys Señora Muñoz
2003 Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico Dona Dolores and Woman#3 voice
2003 Beyond Borders: John Sayles in Mexico Herself documentary
2004 King of the Corner Inez
2006 Play It By Ear Ruth
2013 Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks Ida Barksdale Currently filming
2014 Rio 2 TBA Currently filming


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Father Knows Best Chanthini Episode: Fair Exchange (24 November 1958)[22]
1971–77 The Electric Company Carmela

Otto The Director Pandora the Little Girl, Millie the Helper

780 episodes
1974 Dominic's Dream Anita Bente
1974 Out to Lunch Various Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music
1976 The Muppet Show Herself *Episode #1.5
  • Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music
1978 The Rockford Files Rita Capkovic *3 episodes
1979 Anatomy of a Seduction Nina
1979 The Muppets Go Hollywood Herself/Host Special
1981 Evita Perón Renata Riguel
1982–83 9 to 5 Violet Newstead *Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series*Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
1982 Working Waitress
1982 Portrait of a Showgirl Rosella DeLeon Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1986 Golden Girls Renee Episode: "Empty Nest"
1987 The Cosby Show Mrs. Granger Episode: "You Only Hurt the One You Love"
1989–90 B.L. Stryker Kimberly Baskin 2 episodes
1994 The Nanny Miss Wickervich/Mrs. Stone Episode: "The Gym Teacher"
1994–98 Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? Carmen Sandiego voice
1994–95 The Cosby Mysteries Angie Corea 2 episodes
1995 The Wharf Rat Mom
1995 The Magic School Bus Dr. Camrina Skeledon Episode" "The Busasaurus"
1997–2003 Oz Sister 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)
1998 The Spree Irma Kelly
1999 Resurrection Mimi
2004 Copshop Mary Alice
2005 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mildred Quintana Episode: "Night"
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury Mildred Quintana Episode: "Day"
2006–07 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Frances Goren 3 episodes: "Endgame"; "The War at Home" and "Brother's Keeper"
2007 George Lopez Luisa Diaz Episode: "George Testi-Lies for Benny"
2007 Ugly Betty Aunt Mirta Episode: "A Tree Grows in Guadalajara"
2007 Cane Amalia Duque 13 episodes
2010 In Plain Sight Rita Ramirez Episode: "Coma Chameleon"
2011 Special Agent Oso Abuela voice - Episode: "For Tamales with Love/Pinata Royale"
2011-present Happily Divorced Dori Newman
2013 Nicky Deuce Tutti TV Movie
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