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Rita Moreno          

Award-Winning Actress, Dancer, Singer; Health Advocate & New York Times Bestselling Author

Rita Moreno is one of the very few performers to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy, thus becoming an EGOT. She was born Rosita Dolores Alverío in the hospital in Humacao, Puerto Rico on December 11, 1931, to seamstress Rosa María (Marcano) and farmer Francisco José "Paco" Alverío. Her mother moved to New York City in 1937, taking Rita with her while leaving her reportedly unfaithful husband and Rita's younger brother behind. Rita's professional career began before she reached adolescence.

At age 11, she landed her first movie experience, dubbing Spanish-language versions of US films. Less than a month before her 14th birthday on November 22, 1945, she made her Broadway debut in the play "Skydrift" at the Belasco Theatre, co-starring with Arthur Keegan and a young Eli Wallach. Although she would not appear again on Broadway for almost two decades, Rita Moreno, as she was billed in the play, had arrived professionally. She appeared in Father Knows Best, Singin' in the Rain, and The King and I.

Director Robert Wise, who was chosen to co-direct "West Side Story," cast Moreno as "Anita", the Puerto Rican girlfriend of Sharks' leader Bernardo, whose sister Maria is the piece's Juliet. She then had a break from working until she had a career renaissance in her roles in Carnal Knowledge and "The Electric Company."

Moreno won a 1972 Grammy Award for her contribution to "The Electric Company"'s soundtrack album, following it up three years later with a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for "The Ritz." She then won Emmy Awards for "The Muppet Show" and "The Rockford Files."

Moreno also wrote "Rita Moreno: A Memoir" in 2014. In this New York Times bestselling memoir, she shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend—and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys.

In 2019 she was awarded the Peabody Career Achievement Award.

She has continued to work steadily on screen (both large and small) and on stage, solidifying her reputation as a national treasure, a status that was officially ratified with the award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in June 2004. She also won the 2013 SAG Life Achievement Award.

Moreno is also an activist, supporting a range of causes including racial equality, hunger, early childhood education, higher education for minority students, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Speech Topics

A History of the Arts in Film, TV & Theatre

My Life with Words & Music

The Lively Arts: Film Television and Theater - Past, Present and Possibilities

The Value of Diversity to our Culture

Getting Older Without Getting Old

The Power of Language

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My Life from Zero to Sixty + Twenty

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Rita Moreno documentary in the works from Lin-Manuel Miranda ...
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Norman Lear are making a documentary about Rita Moreno's life for PBS.

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