Saturday, July 20, 2013

In these days of racial profiling that still exists there is one person who managed to have the best career from being racially stereotyped. Rita Moreno got her Oscar from playing the lead Latino, Anita in the 1960 classic West Side Story with great singing and dancing and lots of drama. And now some 50 years later she is still the very much active working in demand actress playing Fran Dresser’s Mother in the cable hit comedy Happily Divorced on the network called TV Land.

A friend of mine is reading Rita's book over the holidays so I thought I would republish this blog post from July 20, 2013

She can look back on a lifetime of great moments starting with her appearance in the great movie Singin’ In The Rain in 1952. Then actually singing with the Muppet's in 1976. For a now 81 year old woman she has outlived by decades her famous lovers like Marlon Brando and Elvis and can still sing and dance and does so in various revival theater productions that attract her fans from all over.

She came to the United States from Puerto Rico with her Mother when she was 5 years old. They joined relatives in a crowded Bronx New York apartment. Rosita Dolorous Alverio her real name was soon taking dancing lessons and performing in shows. Then an agent told her she needed to change her name. Now Rita wanted to be like Elizabeth Taylor too. Even the big movie producer Louis B, Mayer said she looked like a Spanish Elizabeth Taylor.

Now being off to Hollywood she found her always being cast in movies being the minority one. She played an American Indians complete with feathers and leather skirts and in Pagan Love Song a movie made in 1950 she was the dark one. In the movie Cattle Town in 1952 the Spanish girl complete with a Spanish accent. Somehow as an Asian girl in the famous movie The King And I in 1956 she used the same old accent and no one complained.

Being hungry for film roles, she put up with all the racial profiling and did what she had to do in order to get work. In 1963,in the movie Cry Of Battle, she had to speak Spanish and always play the other secret spitfire woman. At least by 1954 she landed on the cover of Life Magazine where she was noticed by Marlon Brando. They were perfect for each other and had a eight year affair. She writes in her book about him, “To say that he was a great lover---sensual, generous, delightfully inventive---would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul.”

Wow, Brando WAS the best. He puts all of mankind to rest. But their relationship was hard on her since he had various other women on the side throughout their years together that tore her apart. Once she met Elvis, she put his infidelity aside and concentrated on him for awhile. So, she had some fun with some pretty extraordinary men in her life. Brando got jealous and demanded her back while he still cheated on her. She tried to commit suicide over it all and survived her attempt and finally got Brando out of her heart.

Months later she won her Oscar which became the first of many awards to come. In 1981 she was recognized as the only, now the first entertainer to receive all the top awards. She has an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Emmy's for her vast body of work. She is the first of fewer than a dozen people that have won as they call all he awards an E G O T. In 1965 she settled down and married Leonard Gordon a doctor who died two years ago.

Her daughter’s favorite memory was when she worked with Morgan Freeman as regulars on the old children’s show for PBS The Electric Company in 1970. Rita is now a grandmother of two boys. She somehow managed to have a wonderful full life playing all kinds of minority types of people.


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