Rita Moreno is the only female performer to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards - the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy - a feat that earned her a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records. In addition to her film, stage, television and concert careers, Moreno lectures to various organizations and university audiences on issues of women's health, aging, and living a full life.
She's also outspoken about heart disease and diabetes, which have touched the lives of her immediate family.
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Rita Moreno is the only female performer to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony, and the Grammy, a feat that earned her a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records. She received the Oscar for her performance as Anita in the 1962 motion picture "West Side Story." Her first Emmy was for a 1977 variety appearance on "The Muppet Show;" her second Emmy was for a dramatic guest appearance on "The Rockford Files" in 1978. She earned the Tony Award for her 1973 triumph on Broadway as Googie Gomez in "The Ritz." And she won a Grammy for her 1972 performance on "The Electric Company," an album for children based on the long-running television show of the same name. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995.
Born in Puerto Rico, Moreno was five years old when her mother moved them to New York. She started dancing lessons the next year, and at age 13 had her Broadway debut in "Skydrift." At seventeen, she signed a contract with MGM, and from that point on her career steadily advanced. She made some thirty films early in her career, too often typecast as a Mexican spitfire or an Indian maiden. It was only after she won an Academy Award for her outstanding performance as Anita in "West Side Story," which gained international acclaim, that she was finally recognized as a major talent.
In 1962, Moreno returned to the stage, again to critical acclaim. She received a Tony nomination for her role in "National Health," then starred in "The Ritz," for which she won the Tony Award. Additionally, she received the Golden Globe Award, the Golden Apple Award, and the Joseph Jefferson Award as best actress in Chicago's 1968 theatrical season for her brilliant performance as Serafina in "The Rose Tattoo." In 1985 she repeated her Chicago triumph and was awarded the prestigious Sara Siddons Award for her portrayal of Olive Madison in the female version of "The Odd Couple."
Moreno has also been the guest star on a wide variety of television productions, both here and abroad. She is proud to have been a featured artist for many years on "The Electric Company," the highly-regarded educational television program. She has starred in her own television series, including "B.L. Stryker," "9 to 5," and "The Cosby Mystery Series." At present she is one of the leads in the highly acclaimed HBO series "Oz," and has recently completed a pilot for a new CBS series.
Moreno's career in both film and stage has continued, with recent roles in the films "Wharf Rat," "Angus," "Carlo's Wake," "Blue Moon," and "Pinero." In 1995 she returned to the New York stage in Anne Meara's "After Play" and in Circle Repertory's production of "Size of the World." She also keeps busy performing concerts across the country as a guest artist with symphony orchestras for their Pops series. In 1993 she was invited to perform at President Clinton's inauguration and later that month was asked to perform at the White House. Her latest endeavor has been in cabaret and has met with great critical success. In 2002 she appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in a production of "Candide."
In addition to her film, stage, television and concert careers, Moreno fills her spare time by lecturing to various organizations on a variety of topics, including women's health issues, diabetes, and heart disease. Moreno's mother died of diabetes-related complications at 79, and the disease also claimed her sister-in-law's life. Additionally, her husband had a heart attack early in life, and today he and his siblings battle high cholesterol. Moreno, who considers her biggest role to be her off-screen role as a caregiver, is the national spokesperson for the American Heart Association's "The Heart Of Diabetes: Understanding Insulin Resistance" program, aimed at helping the growing numbers of people with type 2 diabetes recognize and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, a serious and often underestimated complication of diabetes.
Moreno 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 commissioner on the President's White House Fellowships. She has also served as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.