Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Rita (born Rosita Dolores Alverio) moved with her mother to New York at the age of five. When she was eleven years old Rita lent her voice to Spanish-language versions of American films. She had her first Broadway role by the time she was thirteen, which caught the attention of Hollywood talent scouts.
For the next ten years Rita played roles in movies which she felt degrading.
Finally, in 1961 she landed the role of "Anita" in Robert Wise's film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's Broadway hit West Side Story, about the lives of two star-crossed lovers in gang-ridden New York during the late 1950's. Moreno gained fame and an Academy Award as theBest Supporting Actress that year.
Moreno was the second person in history to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award, the first and only Hispanic entertainer to have done so.
Moreno's popularity grew even more in the 1970s and 1980s when she appeared on the PBS childrens' series The Electric Company and the popular family variety series The Muppet Show. She also made guest appearances on series such as The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, and Miami Vice. During the late 1990s, she gained exposure to a new generation of viewers as she played a Catholic nun trained as a psychologist in the popular HBO series, Oz.
Rita Moreno's real contribution has been her ability to transcend the discriminatory practices of Hollywood and set a precedent for hispanic actors to be recognized by talent rather than ethnicity.
Rita Moreno became the first Puerto Rican to have been awarded the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy's. In 2001, Rita received a "Special Recognition Award" from the International Latin Music Hall of Fame. In June 2004, she became the first Hispanic to be awarded the "Presidential Medal of Freedom" by President George W. Bush.
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