NEW YORK: Chita Rivera, the musical theatre legend and a number of Tony winner who created the function of Puerto Rican firebrand Anita on Broadway in West Aspect Story and different memorable characters, has died on the age of 91.
The petite, raven-haired dancer, singer and actress made historical past when she turned the primary Hispanic girl to obtain a prestigious Kennedy Heart Honor in 2002. She additionally acquired the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009.
“It’s with nice unhappiness that Lisa Mordente, the daughter of Chita Rivera, proclaims the dying of her beloved mom who died peacefully on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, in New York after a quick sickness,” her daughter Lisa stated in a press release.
Rivera was nominated for 10 Tony awards and received twice. She additionally acquired a particular Tony for Lifetime Achievement in 2018 for a profession that spanned almost seven a long time.
Celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, who wrote the e book for Rivera’s Tony-winning roles in The Rink reverse Liza Minnelli in 1984 and Kiss of the Spider Girl a decade later, described her as “a strolling historical past e book of the golden age of American musical theatre.”
From the refrain in Nineteen Fifties Broadway musicals Guys and Dolls and Can-Can, Rivera moved to centre stage as murderess Velma Kelly within the unique 1975 Broadway manufacturing of Chicago and created the function of Rose within the shock hit Bye, Bye Birdie with Dick Van Dyke in 1960.
Nevertheless it was her portrayal of the sassy, hip-swaying Anita sashaying throughout the stage singing America or warning her good friend about A Boy Like That in West Aspect Story that made Rivera a star.
“To be there when these geniuses created that present was one thing that could be a blessing, you understand. It is one thing that you may by no means, ever overlook,” Rivera as soon as stated in regards to the groundbreaking musical by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.
NOBODY LIKE CHITA
“When she let these limbs unfastened she was a one-woman showstopper and each choreographer wished her,” award-winning producer and director Harold Prince as soon as stated. “There may be no person who can dance, sing and act like Chita Rivera.”
Rivera was born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero on Jan 23, 1933, in Washington, DC Her father, Puerto Rican musician Pedro Julio Figueroa del Rivero, died when she was 7.
Certainly one of 5 youngsters, she studied ballet from a younger age and received a scholarship to George Balanchine’s College of American Ballet in New York. She was nonetheless a youngster when, on a whim, she auditioned with a good friend for the touring firm of the musical “Name Me Madam” and landed a job.
“I all the time inform children at the moment by no means to look down on the refrain and dealing there,” Rivera stated in an interview with the web site thestage.co.uk in 2015. “It is a rare place to be – you’ll study all the things you’ll ultimately should do.”
In 1957 she married Tony Mordente, an actor and dancer within the present. She was such an integral a part of “West Aspect Story” that its London manufacturing needed to be delayed till after she gave beginning to her solely baby, Lisa, in 1958.
Rivera’s profession was interrupted in 1986 when she suffered a compound leg fracture in a automobile accident in New York whereas showing in Jerry’s Women. Medical doctors needed to insert many pins to restore her shattered limb.
“Identical to the flicks, they advised me I might by no means dance once more,” she advised Selection in 2005. “And similar to the flicks, right here I’m I do not know what number of performances later.”
After rigorous bodily remedy Rivera not solely recovered from the accident however went on to win her second Tony for Kiss of the Spider Girl in 1993 and scored one other nomination for 9, reverse Antonio Banderas, a decade later.
Rivera additionally appeared repeatedly on TV leisure reveals and was within the movie model of Candy Charity in 1969 with Shirley MacLaine and Chicago in 2002.
In her mid-70s, when different dancers had slowed down or retired, she starred in Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, a stage present that mixed music, dance and storytelling.
“This bona fide Broadway icon … appears as match as a well-tuned fiddle,” Time Out journal stated in its 2005 evaluate of the present.
A decade later, Rivera appeared in a PBS tv retrospective of her profession referred to as Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do. The identical yr she earned her tenth Tony nomination as a revenge-seeking millionaire within the musical The Go to. It was the final of a number of collaborations with the songwriting group of John Kander and Fred Webb.
“You actually by no means know what the subsequent day brings you,” Rivera advised the senior advocacy group AARP in a 2011 interview. “I’ve a really younger outlook. I do not suppose you know the way a lot you are able to do till you attempt.”