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

Early years

Moreno was born Rosita Dolores Alverío in Humacaomarker, Puerto Rico, to Rosa María, a seamstress, and Paco Alverío, a farmer. She moved with her mother to New York Citymarker at the age of five, and took the surname of her stepfather, Edward Moreno. When she was eleven years old, she lent her voice to Spanish-language versions of Americanmarker films.

She had her first Broadwaymarker role—as "Angelina" in Skydrift --by the time she was 13, which caught the attention of Hollywoodmarker talent scouts. She played a small role in the 1952 movie Singin' in the Rain as Zelda Zanners, a fictional silent screen vamp, and had a supporting role in the 1956 musical The King and I as Tuptim, but disliked most of her other work during this period.

West Side Story

In 1961, Moreno landed the role of Anita in Robert Wise's film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musicalmarker, West Side Story, which was played by Chita Rivera on Broadway. Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for that role. Moreno went on to be the first actress (and 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 Chicagomarker.

Other Roles

Besides appearing in Singin' in the Rain, The King and I, Summer and Smoke (1961), West Side Story, The Night of the Following Day (1968) and Carnal Knowledge in (1971), Moreno appeared on the PBS children'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 Boat, The Cosby Show, George Lopez, The 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.

Broadway and television

Moreno's Broadwaymarker credits include The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Gantry, The Ritz, for which she won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress, and the female version of The Odd Couple. 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. During the mid 1990s, Moreno provided the voice of Carmen Sandiego on the animated Fox show Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

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 Nanny as Coach Stone, Maggie's (Nicholle Tom) tyrannical gym teacher, whom Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) also remembered from her school as Ms. Wickavich.

Performing in the 21st century

Moreno continues to be active on stage and screen. In 2006, she portrayed Amanda Wingfield in Berkeley Repertory Theatremarker's revival of The Glass Menagerie. She was seen on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as the dying mother of Detective Goren. She was a regular on the short-lived TV series Cane, which starred Jimmy Smits and Hector Elizondo.


On June 18, 1965, Moreno married Leonard Gordon, who remains her husband and manager. They have one daughter, Fernanda Luisa (Gordon) Fisher, and 2 grandsons.


Among Moreno's awards and recognitions are the following:



Year Film Role Other notes
1950 So Young So Bad Dolores Guererro as Rosita Moreno
The Toast of New Orleans Tina
Pagan Love Song Terru
1952 The Ring Lucy Gomez
Singin' in the Rain Zelda Zanders
The Fabulous Señorita Manuela Rodríguez
Cattle Town Queli
1953 Fort Vengeance Bridget Fitzgibbon
Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation Soubrette uncredited
Latin Lovers Christina
El Alaméin Jara
1954 Jivaro Maroa
The Yellow Tomahawk Honey Bear
Garden of Evil Cantina Singer
1955 Untamed Julia
Seven Cities of Gold Ula
1956 The Lieutenant Wore Skirts Sandra Roberts
The King and I Tuptim
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

Golden Globe
Summer and Smoke Rosa Zacharias
1963 Cry of Battle Sisa
1968 The Night of the Following Day Vi
1969 Popi Lupe
Marlowe Dolores Gonzáles
1971 Carnal Knowledge Louise
1976 The Ritz Googie Gomez Nominated - BAFTA Award

Nominated - Golden Globe
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
Angus Madame Rulenska
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Belle Abromowitz Nominated - ALMA Award
1999 Carlo's Wake Angela Torello
The Puerto Ricans: Our American Story Herself documentary
2000 Blue Moon Maggie
2001 Piñero Miguel's Mother
2003 Casa de los Babys Señora Muñoz
Beyond Borders: John Sayles in Mexico Herself documentary
2004 King of the Corner Inez
2006 Play It By Ear Ruth


Year Title Role Other notes
1958 Father Knows Best

Chanthini, an exchange student
from India
episode: Fair Exchange (24 Nov 1958)
1971 – 1977 The Electric Company Carmela
Otto The Director
Pandora the Little Girl, Millie the Helper

780 episodes
1974 Dominic's Dream Anita Bente
Out to Lunch Various Nominated - Emmy Award
1976 The Muppet Show Herself Episode #1.5 - Emmy Award
1978 The Rockford Files Rita Capkovic 3 episodes
Emmy Award - For episode "The Paper Palace"
Nominated - Emmy Award - For episode "Rosendahl and Gilda Stern are Dead".

1979 Anatomy of a Seduction Nina
The Muppets Go Hollywood Herself/Host Special
1981 Evita Perón Renata Riguel
1982 – 1983 9 to 5 Violet Newstead Nominated - Emmy Award; Nominated - Golden Globe
1982 Working Waitress
Portrait of a Showgirl Rosella DeLeon Nominated - Emmy Award
1989 – 1990 B.L. Stryker Kimberly Baskin 2 episodes
1994 The Nanny Miss Wickervich/Mrs. Stone Episode - The Gym Teacher
1994 – 1998 Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? Carmen Sandiego voice
1994 – 1995 The Cosby Mysteries Angie Corea 2 episodes
1995 The Wharf Rat Mom
1997 – 2003 Oz Sister Peter Marie Reimondo 44 episodes
ALMA Award - 1998, 1999, 2002
Nominated - ALMA Award - 2000, 2001

1998 The Spree Irma Kelly
1999 Resurrection Mimi
2004 Copshop Mary Alice
2005 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mildred Quintana Episode - "Night"
Law & Order: Trial by Jury Mildred Quintana Episode - "Day"
2006 – 2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Frances Goren 3 episodes: "Endgame"
"The War at Home"
"Brother's Keeper"

2007 The George Lopez Show Luisa Diaz Episode - "George Testi-Lies for Benny"
Ugly Betty Aunt Mirta Episode - "A Tree Grows in Guadalajara"
Cane Amalia Duque 13 episodes

See also


  1. Speakers on healthcare
  3. Rita Moreno fan site
  4. All American Speakers
  5. Rita Moreno: 1931 — : Actress, Singer, Dancer - Demonstrated Versatile Talents
  6. Moreno inducted into California Hall of Fame, California Museum, Accessed 2007

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