If the daughter of a seamstress and a farmer from Puerto Rico would one day stand beside the President of the United States and be awarded the highest civilian medal of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that person would be no other than Rosa Dolores Alverio Marcano, nicknamed and popularly known as Rita Moreno.
It sounds like a wish from fairytales told to underprivileged children to keep up their spirits but no, it is simply the life story of Rita Moreno. She is a legendary actress, singer, and dancer whose career in the performing arts has spanned over 70 years. She’s one of two people who has completed the individual competitive Academy, Emmy and Tony awards for acting. Who is the legend Rita Moreno and what was her career like? Read below to find out.
Rita Moreno’s Biography
She wasn’t born Rita Moreno but Rosa Dolores Alverio Marcano. She was nicknamed ‘Rita’ by her mother, Rosa Maria when she was born. Her mom, who gave birth to her when she was just 17 later relocated to New York City where she met Edward Moreno. Rita’s closeness to her first stepfather caused her to adopt his name as her last name.
There is nothing to suggest that she had a formal education in the early stages of her life but for Rita Moreno, it wouldn’t matter. After her mother got to New York City, she began taking dancing lessons. At the age of 11, she started voicing in Spanish translations of American films. While a Broadway appearance is usually the summit of a lot of actors’ career, Rita Moreno’s career started from there. She appeared in a Broadway play as Angelina. By the time she wrapped up the play, she became one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents; she was 13 at the time.
Rita Moreno’s career is littered with plenty of movies but there are a few career-defining ones – The King and I and West Side Story. A career that has produced the Holy Grail of Performative Arts, EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) started with her first movie, So Young, So Bad in 1950. She appeared in several movies since her onscreen debut in 1950, playing the stereotypical Latina woman in a Hollywood flick. When she won her Oscar for her role in West Side Story, she went on a self-imposed exile from Hollywood in protest of the continued stereotypical Latina roles that were offered to her. She returned to acting in 1968 and has continued to appear in different projects till this day.
A long resume of feature films also has an extensive line of Television productions. One of her iconic roles in television was her time as one of the main cast members of The Electric Company for which she won a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children. She also made an appearance on The Muppet Show, for which she earned an Emmy award.
As an actress who started professional acting in the theatre, starting off of Broadway wasn’t just the only remarkable thing she achieved in theatre, she also won the Tony award for her performance in The Ritz, a play in 1975.
The actress in 2009 received a National Medal of Arts from then United States President Barack Obama. Her Emmy Award for the Muppet Show completed a coveted EGOT award list, joining just 23 people in history who have ever completed the four major awards of Performative Arts. Other notable feats in her career include a performance at the inauguration ceremony of President Bill Clinton.
Rita Moreno – Net Worth
Rita Moreno’s legendary career and award-laden filmography have given her an earning power that has allowed her to build a reported net worth of $25 million. She has her work on projects such as The Electric Company, HBO’s OZ, and classics such as The King and I and West Side Story to thank for her significant wealth.
Daughter, Husband and Family Facts
Rita Moreno was the first born child of her mother, Rosa Maria. When she moved with her mother in 1936 to New York, they left her younger brother, Francisco, behind.
Rita love life was a dramatic one. She was in love with Marlon Brando, the Godfather star for 8 years and was pregnant with his child for a while. But due to Marlon Brando’s infidelity, Rita was not interested in having his child and an abortion gone wrong led to a depression that led Rita to attempt suicide.
Her other relationships were with Anthony Quinn, Elvis Presley, Dennis Hopper, and Kenneth Tynan. Moreno finally settled with Leonard Gordon, who was her manager and the two got married in 1965. The couple share one daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher. They were together until the death of Gordon in 2010. Although they had a long marriage, it wasn’t always rosy and Rita admitted wanting to leave the marriage at certain points but chose differently. Rita Moreno is a grandmother to Justin and Cameron Fisher.