If the daughter of a seamstress and a farmer from Puerto Rico one day stood next to the President of the United States and received the highest civilian medal of honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that person would be none other than Rosa Dolores Alverio Marcano, popularly known as Rita Moreno.
It sounds like a wish from fairy tales told to underprivileged children to keep them happy, 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 spans over 70 years. She is one of two people to have won the Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award for Acting. Who is the legend Rita Moreno and what was her career like? Read below to find out.
Rita Moreno’s Biography
She was not born as Rita Moreno, but as Rosa Dolores Alverio Marcano. At her birth, she was nicknamed “Rita” by her mother, Rosa Maria. Her mother, who gave birth to her at the age of only 17, later moved to New York City where she met Edward Moreno. Rita’s proximity to her first stepfather prompted her to take his name as her last name.
There is nothing to suggest that she had a formal education in the early years of her life, but for Rita Moreno, it would not matter. After her mother came to New York City, she began taking dance lessons. At the age of 11, she began dancing in Spanish translations of American films. While a Broadway performance is usually the high point of many actors’ careers, Rita Moreno’s career began from there. She appeared in a Broadway play as Angelina. When she finished the play, she became one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents; she was 13 years old at the time.
Rita Moreno’s career is littered with an abundance of films, but there are some career-defining films – The King and I and West Side Story. A career that produced the Holy Grail of the performing arts, EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) began in 1950 with her first film, So Young, So Bad. Since her screen debut in 1950, she has appeared in several films and played the stereotypical Latina woman in a Hollywood movie. When she won an Oscar for her role in West Side Story, she went into self-imposed exile from Hollywood in protest against the continuing stereotypical Latina roles she was offered. In 1968 she returned to acting and still appears in various projects today.
A long resume of feature films also includes an extensive series of television productions. One of her iconic roles on television was her time as one of the main cast members of The Electric Company, for which she received a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album. She also appeared on The Muppet Show, for which she received an Emmy Award.
As an actress who started out with professional acting in the theater, not only was her start on Broadway the only remarkable thing she achieved in the theater, she also won the Tony Award for her performance in The Ritz, a play from 1975.
The actress received a National Medal of Arts in 2009 from the then US President Barack Obama. Her Emmy Award for The Muppet Show completed the coveted EGOT prize list and joins the 23 people who have ever received the four most important awards for the performing arts. Other notable achievements in her career include an appearance at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony.
Rita Moreno – Net Worth
Rita Moreno’s legendary career and award-winning filmography have given her an earning power that has enabled her to build a reported net worth of $25 million. Her work on projects such as The Electric Company, HBO’s OZ, and classics such as The King and I and West Side Story have made her considerably wealthy.
Daughter, Husband, and Family Facts
Rita Moreno was the first-born child of her mother, Rosa Maria. When she moved with her mother to New York in 1936, they left behind their younger brother Francisco.
Rita Moreno’s 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 because of Marlon Brando’s infidelity, Rita was not interested in having his child and a failed abortion led to a depression that caused Rita to attempt suicide.
She maintained further relationships with Anthony Quinn, Elvis Presley, Dennis Hopper, and Kenneth Tynan. Moreno eventually settled down with Leonard Gordon, who was her manager, and the couple married in 1965 and have a daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher. They were together until Gordon’s death in 2010. Although they had been married for a long time, things were not always rosy, and Rita admitted that at certain points she wanted to leave the marriage, but decided otherwise. Rita Moreno is the grandmother of Justin and Cameron Fisher.