Award-Winning Actress, Dancer & Singer
Rita Moreno remains one of the busiest stars in show business: she recently released her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir; starred in the premier of “Life Without Make-up,” an original play about her life; and appears regularly as Fran Drescher’s mother in TVLand’s Happily Divorced. In addition, Moreno frequently travels for concerts and lectures.…
Rita Moreno remains one of the busiest stars in show business: she recently released her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir; starred in the premier of “Life Without Make-up,” an original play about her life; and appears regularly as Fran Drescher’s mother in TVLand’s Happily Divorced. In addition, Moreno frequently travels for concerts and lectures. Such creative diversity has been the hallmark of her nearly 70-year career.
She belongs to an elite group of only eight living performers who have won entertainment’s grand slam of the industry’s most prestigious awards: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony, and the Grammy. Her Oscar win came in 1962 as Latina spitfire “Anita” in the film version of West Side Story, for which she also won a Golden Globe. The Tony was for her 1975 comedic triumph as “Googie Gomez” in Broadway’s “The Ritz.” The Grammy was for her 1972 performance on The Electric Company Album, based on the long-running children’s television series. She won not one, but two Emmys: the first for a 1977 variety appearance on The Muppet Show and the following year for a dramatic turn on The Rockford Files.
Over the decades, Moreno has collected dozens of other show business awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995. A favorite of Chicago audiences and critics, she received that city’s coveted Joseph Jefferson Award in 1968 as “Serafina” in “The Rose Tattoo,” and in 1985 was awarded the prestigious Sara Siddons Award for her hilarious portrayal of “Olive Madison” in the female version of “The Odd Couple.”
Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, a small town near the Puerto Rican rain forest. At age five, she moved with her mother to New York where the precocious child soon began dance lessons. She made her Broadway debut at just 13 in “Skydrift,” starring Eli Wallach. Then, in true Hollywood tradition, a talent scout spotted her and arranged for the teen to meet MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, who signed her to a film contract.
Her Hollywood career advanced steadily, including early films with stars such as Richard Widmark, Esther Williams, Mario Lanza, Susan Hayward, Tyrone Power, and Gary Cooper. She appeared in the delightful Singin’ in the Rain starring Gene Kelly and was featured as “Tuptim” in the classic The King and I with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. Although early roles sometimes found her typecast as a Mexican spitfire or Indian maiden, she broke the Latina mold playing such roles as an Irish teacher, an Italian widow, a female evangelist, a proper Englishwoman, and a Southern belle. After her Academy Award for West Side Story, Moreno was acknowledged as a major big-screen talent.
Other significant film appearances include: The Night of the Following Day with Marlon Brando in 1967; with James Garner in Marlowe; as Alan Arkin’s girlfriend in Popi; and in Mike Nichol’s production of Carnal Knowledge. She reprised the role of “Googie Gomez” in the film version of The Ritz, followed by Alan Alda’s The Four Seasons, Columbia Pictures’ acclaimed I Like it Like That, and Angus with George C. Scott. More recently she starred in the indie feature Carlo’s Wake with Christopher Meloni and in Blue Moon opposite Ben Cazzara. In addition, she appeared in the highly acclaimed movie Pinero starring Benjamin Bratt and in John Sayles’ film, Casa de los Babys.
Her long stage career has included starring roles on both sides of the Atlantic. In London, she appeared in Hal Prince’s 1962 production of “She Loves Me” and in the 1997 West End run of “Sunset Boulevard.” In New York, she has starred in Lorraine Hansbury’s “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” in “Gantry,” opposite Robert Shaw, and with Jimmy Coco in “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” She received a Tony Award nomination for her role in “The National Health” in 1974, followed by her 1975 Tony win for “The Ritz.” Other New York credits include: Anne Meara’s “After Play;” “Wally’s Café” with Jimmy Coco; “Circle Rep’s Size of the World;” and more recently the female version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.”
Moreno’s diverse regional theatre roles include “Lola” in “Damn Yankees,” “Anne Sullivan” in “The Miracle Worker,” “Doris” in “The Owl and the Pussycat,” and “Mama Rose” in “Gypsy.” At Berkeley Rep, she received rave reviews for her interpretation of Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s play “Master Class” in 2004 and, two seasons later, she received similar acclaim for her portrayal of “Amanda Wingfield” in that company’s “The Glass Menagerie.”
Moreno has guest-starred on a wide variety of television productions in the US and abroad. She is proud to have been a featured artist for many years on The Electric Company, the highly regarded educational show for children. She starred in her own TV series based on the film 9 to 5. Additionally, she played opposite Burt Reynolds in B.L. Stryker and was a series regular with Bill Cosby in the NBC Cosby Mystery Series. In 2007, she starred in the CBS series Cane and most recently she was one of the leads in the highly acclaimed HBO series OZ.
Moreno performs concerts across the country and often appears as a guest artist with symphony orchestras. In January 1993, she was invited to perform at President Clinton’s inauguration and later that month sang at the White House. In 2002 she appeared as the guest artist with the San Francisco Symphony in a production of “Candide.” Moreno’s latest endeavor has been in cabaret where she has met with great critical success.
In addition to film, stage, television, and concert commitments, Moreno fills her spare time by lecturing to various organizations and university audiences on such varied topics as The Value of Diversity to our Culture, The Power of Language, Getting Older without Getting Old and A History of the Arts in Film TV & Theatre. She is also involved with a number of civic and charitable organizations and events.
Moreno has served on The National Endowment for the Arts and as a commissioner for the President’s White House fellowships. She has also served as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
At a White House ceremony in June 2004, Moreno was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. The medal is the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian and ranks only second to the Congressional Medal of Honor as the nation’s highest award. It is conferred on individuals for a lifetime of meritorious service.
In 2007, Rita Moreno was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2010, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, as well as the Here I Stand Award for activism in the arts and the HOLA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
The Value of Diversity to our Culture
The Power of Language
Getting Older without Getting Old
A History of the Arts in Film, TV & Theatre
Rita Moreno Talks About Being Brought Up As A "Caribbean Girl" on The Queen Latifah Show
Show People With Paul Wontorek: "West Side Story" Legend Rita Moreno on Brando & Life as an EGOT
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