SPEECH TITLES AND/OR TOPICS
Celebrity | Diversity | Entertainment
Rita Moreno is one of two people to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony, and the Grammy. She has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for this achievement. She has also received dozens of other show business awards, most notably, the Golden Globe Award, the Golden Apple Award, the Joseph Jefferson Award, and the prestigious Sarah Siddons Award. In 1995, Ms. Moreno received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Rita Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, a small town near the famous rain forest of Puerto Rico. At five years old, she and her mother moved to New York and the following year she started dancing lessons. At age 13, she had her Broadway debut in Skydrift, which starred Eli Wallach, and a few years later, she signed a contract with MGM.
Ms. Moreno made some thirty films early in her career. She was often typecast as a Mexican spitfire or an Indian maiden. Among the films she made during this period were Untamed, Seven Cities of Gold, The Lieutenant Wore Skirts, and Garden of Evil. She was also featured as Tuptim in the classic, The King and I. It was only after she won an Academy Award for her outstanding performance as Anita in West Side Story that she was finally recognized as a major talent.
Rita Moreno has appeared in many regional theatres, and has broken the rigid role of Latino stereotyping, playing diverse roles such as an Irish teacher, and Italian widow, a reformed prostitute, a woman evangelist, an English Lady, and a southern belle.
Ms. Moreno has also been the guest star on a wide variety of television productions. She is proud to have been a featured artist for many years on The Electric Company, the highly regarded educational television program. She starred in her own TV series, the sitcom version of the film 9 to 5. From 1989-1990 she played opposite Burt Reynolds in B.L. Stryker, and in 1991/1992, in the Fox Network series, The Top of the Heap. In 1994, she returned to New York to appear as a series regular opposite Bill Cosby on the Cosby Mystery Series on NBC.
In 1995, Rita Moreno returned to the New York stage in Anne Meara's After Play and in Circle Repertory's production of Size Of the World. In the fall of that year, she again won the acclaim of the London audiences when she returned to the stage in the starring role of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webbers' Sunset Blvd. She continues to perform concerts across the country. She is a guest artist with symphony orchestras for their Pops series.
In addition to her film, stage, television, and concert careers, Ms. Moreno fills her spare time by lecturing to various organizations as well as to university audiences. She is also involved with a number of civic and charitable organizations and events. She has served on the National Foundation for the Arts and as a commissioner on the Presidents White House Fellowships. She is currently a member of the Presidents Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Rita Moreno will be honored by the White House with a Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented by the President.