Rita Moreno

Which performer from the 1961 movie West Side Story is an EGOT, or a winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award?

And the answer: Rita Moreno.

Photo courtesy: "Rita Moreno: A Memoir"

Born in Puerto Rico, Rita Moreno is perhaps best known for her role as Anita in West Side Story, which won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. But she went on to win Emmy awards for her guest appearances on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files, a Grammy award for the soundtrack to the children's television show The Electric Company, and a Tony award for her role in the Broadway play The Ritz.

Moreno was born to modest beginnings. Born Rosa Dolores Alverío, the earliest parts of the EGOT winner's life were spent on her parents' farm in Puerto Rico. By the time her mother had saved enough to move her family to New York, Moreno had discovered a passion for the arts. Quickly taking up dance lessons, Moreno was first hired at age 11 to record Spanish language versions of American films. Shortly after, Moreno made her Broadway debut at age 13 as “Angelina” in Skydrift, catching the attention of Hollywood filmmakers. Soon after, the young artist started receiving offers from Hollywood agents. Her first film, So Young, So Bad, was released in 1950, and lead to a seven-year contract with Louis B. Mayer’s MGM Studios, where she adopted the stage name Rita Moreno.

While her time onscreen led to many successful film and television roles, Moreno felt that during her time in Hollywood she was often "typecast," or reduced to roles according to her race or gender. Though this casting opened the door for her initial Oscar win in West Side Story, the actress cited mistreatment, and left the industry for summer theater productions for a period of about seven years. Upon her return, Moreno had a point to make. Within a decade, Moreno swept the entertainment industry with an Emmy, Grammy and Tony win, respectively.

Read more about the star's life and legacy here.


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