Rita Moreno is one of the few entertainers to have snagged four of the most coveted prizes for performers: an Oscar for “West Side Story” (1961), a Tony for her role in the musical “The Ritz” (1975), a Grammy for her children’s album “The Electric Company” (1972), and two Emmys for her appearances on “The Muppets” (1977) and “The Rockford Files” (1978).
Born Rose Dolores Alverin, Moreno was only 5 years old when she and her recently divorced mother moved to New York. They struggled to learn English while trying to survive on the wages her mother brought home as a factory worker. Moreno, though, was drawn to show business at an early age and began taking dancing lessons. She made her Broadway debut at age 13, and by age 17, had signed a contract with MGM. She landed her first major role as Tuptim, the concubine of the Siamese monarch in 1956’s “The King and I.”
Moreno went on to perform in more than 30 films, including her supporting turn as Anita, the Puerto Rican girlfriend of Sharks’ leader Bernardo in the feature film adaptation of the Broadway musical, “West Side Story,” and as Googie Gomez in 1976’s “The Ritz.”
In 2004, President George W. Bush awarded Moreno the Medal of Freedom and in 2010, President Obama awarded her a National Medal of Arts.
In her personal life, Moreno made tabloid headlines for her romances with actor Marlon Brando and singer Elvis Presley. She is married to Leonard Gordon, a cardiologist and her manager. They have one daughter.
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