Rita Moreno is one of a select group of performers to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards, The Oscar, The Emmy, The Tony and The Grammy. The Oscar was for her performance as Anita in the 1962 motion picture, West Side Story. The two Emmys were for a 1977 variety appearance on The Muppet Show and in 1978 for a dramatic guest appearance on The Rockford Flies. The Tony was for Rita Moreno‘s 1973 triumph on Broadway as Googie Gomez in The Ritz. The Grammy was for her 1972 performance on The Electric Company Album for children which was based on the long-running television show of the same name.
Along the way Rita Moreno received dozens of other show business awards, most notably the Golden Globe Award for her role in West Side Story. In 1995 Ms. Moreno received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Rita Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in a small town in Puerto Rico. When she was five years old she and her mother moved to New York. At age 13 she had her Broadway debut in Skydrift which starred Eli Wallach. Then a talent scout arranged a meeting for 17-year-old Rita Moreno with Louis B. Mayer and she was signed to a contract with MGM.
Rita Moreno made some thirty films early in her career, too often typecast as a Mexican Spitfire or an Indian Maiden. It was only after she won an Academy Award for her outstanding performance as Anita in West Side Story that Rita Moreno was finally recognized as a major talent.
It may be said that Rita Moreno, in portraying an Irish teacher, an Italian widow, a reformed prostitute, a lady evangelist, an English lady and a southern bell has broken the mold of Latino stereotyping.
Rita Moreno has also been the guest star on a wide variety of television productions both here and abroad, including as one of the leads in the acclaimed HBO series OZ. In September, 2007 Rita Moreno was seen on CBS in the television series Cane.
In addition to her film, stage, television and concert careers, Rita Moreno lectures to various organizations and universities. She is also involved with a number of civic and charitable organizations and events.
At a White House ceremony in June 2004 Rita Moreno was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President. The medal is the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian and ranks only second to The Congressional Medal of Honor as the nation’s highest award. It is conferred on individuals for a lifetime of meritorious service.
In 2007, Moreno was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2010 she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama as well as the Here I Stand Award for activism in the arts and the HOLA Lifetime Achievement Award.