Chita Rivera, Broadway Legend of ‘West Side Story’ Fame, Dies at 91

Broadway legend Chita Rivera has died. She was 91. According to The New York Times, Rivera’s death was confirmed via a statement issued by her daughter Lisa Mordente.

The iconic singer, dancer and actress graced the Broadway stage for nearly seven decades, originating iconic roles like Anita in West Side Story (1957), Rose in Bye Bye Birdie (1960), Velma Kelly in Chicago (1975), and the Spider Woman in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993). Her final appearance on the Broadway stage was as Claire Zachannassian in The Visit in 2015.

Throughout her career, Rivera — who was born in Washington, D.C., to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Scottish and Italian descent — received a total of 10 Tony Award nominations, tying her with Julie Harris for the most nominations for an actress at the ceremony. She won two out of the 10: in 1984 for The Rink and in 1993 for Kiss of the Spider Woman. She was also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2018.

Outside of Broadway, Rivera played Mrs. Dame on a 1964 episode of The Outer Limits titled “The Bellero Shield” and had a recurring role as Connie Richardson in 1973 on The New Dick Van Dyke Show.

In 2002, Rivera was the first Latina to receive a Kennedy Center Honor, and, in 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. 

“As I was sitting among all these amazing people, I had time to really try to be comfortable because I was in awe of everyone, not believing that I was actually sitting there myself,” Rivera told the AP back when she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Then I heard the president speak. And before he gave us our medals, he said that we were people who did what we did out of passion. Not for fame. Not for money. And that we have done everything in our power to be examples for the future. … (And then) I actually said to myself, ‘Yes, that is my intention. Yes, I have worked all of these years. Yes, I do look forward to being an example for the future of our children.’”

Read the full article here

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