In the United States there is a very select club called EGOT, so select that only 15 people are made up of it. The name of the club comes from the initials of the four great awards in show business: E for television Emmy, G for musical Grammy, O for Film Oscar and T for theatrical Tony. The 15 people who make it up are the only ones who have managed to win all four awards throughout their careers. Rita Moreno She is the only Hispanic artist that is part of EGOT and also has the record of being the person who in the shortest time achieved those four awards, in an interval of 17 years.
Many viewers will remember her as Anita, the Puerto Rican girl from West Side Story, the girlfriend of the leader of the Sharks. In a few days we will see her again in a small role in the new version of this film that she has directed Steven Spielberg and which opens in Spain on the 22nd. His role in this new version is a re-elaboration of the character of Doc, who was the one who saved Anita precisely from being raped in his drugstore.
Rosita Dolores Alverío He was born in Puerto Rico on December 11, 1931. When his parents divorced, he went with his mother to live in New York. She was 5 years old and it was all a new world for her, but it didn’t take long for her to adjust to her new country. So much so that at the age of eleven she got a job as a dubber for the Spanish versions of American films that were exported to Puerto Rico. But the girl also had an innate talent for dancing. A friend of her mother saw her dancing at home and encouraged her to study dance.
Thanks to the classes of Paco Cansino, uncle of another Rita, Rita Hayworth, Rita Moreno He began his career dancing flamenco in New York bars. From there she would make the leap to Broadway participating in some musical works where she was seen by film talent scouts and at just 17 years old she signed a contract with the Metro. Rita started out with small roles in various movies. But things were not easy at the time for Hispanic actresses. They always pigeonholed her into exotic characters: Hispanic, Indian, Brazilian … Caravan to the South, for example, an adventure in Africa, gave life to a South African mulatto. The roles were short and without much chance of showing off. It also appeared fleetingly in Singing under the rain, but few noticed her in that movie.
The one who did take an eye on him was a young man Marlon brando who had just consecrated himself as a star with The law of silence. In 1954 they began a romance that would last eight years. The actress became pregnant with the actor, but decided to have an abortion. Their relationship would end dramatically in 1962, with a suicide attempt by Rita Moreno. In the 60s he would also have an affair with Elvis presley, of which he came to say that he was a lousy lover. Finally, Rita Moreno she would marry a doctor with whom she lived until his death in 2010.
The King and me It was the first movie in which he could really show off. He gave life to one of the wives of Yul Brynner who lived a secret love story with a young commoner. But her definitive consecration came in 1961 with another musical in which she performed precisely what she was, a Puerto Rican girl. It was West Side Story. The night of the Oscars ceremony Rock Hudson he opened the envelope and spoke his name. She was the first Hispanic woman to achieve the Hollywood statuette. His popularity skyrocketed from that award. After West Side Story stood out again next to Lawrence Harvey in the film Summer and smoke. But Rita was getting tired of the sexy Latina or exotic girl characters that they always offered her. He was looking for roles that were not simple stereotypes and began to reject one script after another.
Perhaps that is why his film career is not more extensive and he has seldom achieved the role of protagonist. Still, he never missed the chance to shine in movies like kings, beside Alan Arkin, The Carnal knowledge, where he gave life to the prostitute who raised the spirits of Jack Nicholson. It also had a certain curiosity to see her in The night of the next day next to his old lover, Marlon brando.
From the 70s Rita Moreno would focus his career on television participating in dozens of series and programs. One of the most popular and the one he worked on for seven years was The Electric Company, a children’s program, where his “Hey guys” became one of the classic taglines in the history of American television. He also did theater and musical tours around the world, including, of course, Spain. As a singer he has recorded a dozen albums. At the end of the 70s, in the middle of the disco music era, he achieved considerable success with the song Have a good time recorded in duet with DC LaRue. Cinema has never left it and in recent decades we have been able to see it in films such as I like it that way, Torch, Angus The Babys house from John Sayles where he gave life to the owner of the hotel and orphanage that supplied children to American women who wanted to adopt.
He has also given his voice to several animated films, but above all he has dedicated himself to working on television series such as Jane the virgin The Day to day. In 2010 he took to the stage the play A life without makeup in which he told his own life. In 2004 he received the Presidential Medal, the highest civil honor awarded in the United States, and in 2012 he was awarded the honorary Latin Grammy for a lifetime. And it is that, at 90 years old, the actress and singer feels deeply American, but continues to boast of her Latino origins and the affection that the public has for her.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.