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Chita Rivera Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 23 January 1933Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Birth NameDolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero
Height 5' 3½" (1.61 m)

Mini Bio (1)

What becomes a legend? Broadway's Chita Rivera deservedly earned her status with a limitless talent, an incredible endurance and longevity, perhaps a bit of luck in the gene pool, long and gorgeous gams, lots of pizzazz, and that certain something that has made her a crowd favorite for five decades. The daughter of late musician Pedro del Rivero, Chita was born in 1933 and was training in ballet by age 11 in Washington D.C. She moved to New York with her family and auditioned as a young teenager for choreographer George Balanchine and his School of American Ballet. Quite taken by her potential, she won a scholarship. However, fate took over when at 17 she happened to audition (by accident) for a chorus part in "Call Me Madam" and won it . The rest is musical comedy history. Dancing roles in "Guys and Dolls" and "Can-Can" followed before she was upgraded to featured role status in "Seventh Heaven" and "Mr. Wonderful" with Sammy Davis, Jr. After six years of hard work, she became an "overnight" star after being hired for the part of Anita in 1957's "West Side Story." It was during this production that she met and eventually married (during the run of the play) dancer Tony Mordente, who played Arab, one of the Jet gang members. So electric in the show was she that the London premiere of "West Side Story" was postponed until she had her baby (Lisa Mordente) and could return to the show. Hit after hit followed with Chita now the lead femme. Rosie in "Bye Bye Birdie," Jenny in "The Threepenny Opera" and a tour of "Sweet Charity" rounded out her spectacular 1960s work. Even middle age would not slow her down. After years of touring, she and another still-limber star, Gwen Verdun, hit it big again in New York co-starring in Bob Fosse's "Chicago" in 1975 with Gwen as the infamous Roxie Hart and Chita playing her fiery prison rival Velma Kelly. Other notable turns included the 'Birdie' sequel of "Bring Back Birdie," plus "Merlin," "Pippin," "The Rink" and "Kiss of the Spiderwoman." Chita also impressed in straight dramatic stage roles over the years with yeoman work in "Born Yesterday" as Billie Dawn, "Father's Day," "The Visit" in which she won the Sarah Siddons Award, and most recently in "The House of Bernarda Alba." Chita would also become a perennial favorite at the Tony awards. She has won twice for her work in "The Rink" and "Kiss of the Spiderwoman." On TV she appeared on all the major musical variety hits ("Ed Sullivan, Dinah Shore, Garry Moore, Carol Burnett") but has had too few acting parts. The key to her love for performing may be in the need and thrill of a live audience for her time on film has also been extremely limited. Fondly remembered for her kinetic leg work in "Sweet Charity" (1969) with Shirley MacLaine and Paula Kelly, Chita never managed to recreate any of her stage triumphs for film. Interestingly, she was glimpsed in a cameo in the 2003 movie version of "Chicago." At age 70+ and still a cabaret razzle-dazzler from time to time, she recently copped her eighth (thus far) Tony nomination in 2003 for her scene-stealing work in "Nine." Chita, the Broadway national treasure and recipient of the Kennedy Center honor (2002) and Astaire Award for lifetime achievement (2003), shows no signs of stopping.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Tony Mordente (1 December 1957 - ?) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Jet Black Hair

Trivia (17)

Achieved her first fame on Broadway in 1957, portraying Anita in West Side Story.
Daughter of the late Puerto Rican musician Pedro del Rivero, and his wife, Katherine.
Mother of actress Lisa Mordente.
Chita Rivera is the 2002 John F. Kennedy Center Honors recipient.
Her father was Puerto Rican, and her mother was of mostly Scottish extraction.
Played a character called "Nickie" in both Chicago (2002) and Sweet Charity (1969).
Played "Rosie" in the original Broadway production of "Bye Bye Birdie" (early 1960s), opposite Dick Van Dyke ("Albert"), in a cast which also included Paul Lynde, Michael J. Pollard, and Richard Gautier.
Was the first ever Latin-American to receive the Kennedy Honors Award.
Has won two Tony Awards as Best Actress (Musical): in 1984 for "The Rink," and in 1993 for "Kiss of the Spider Woman--The Musical." And she has earned six additional nominations: one as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) in 1961 for "Bye, Bye Birdie;" four additional Best Actress (Musical) entries, in 1976 for "Chicago," in 1981 for "Bring Back Birdie," in 1983 for "Merlin," and in 1986 for "Jerry's Girls;" and one as Best Actress (Featured Role - Musical) in 2003 for "Nine The Musical!" This is a total of eight nominations, making her the second most nominated actress in Tony history (after Julie Harris, who has ten).
Originated two roles on Broadway which would later win Oscars for the actresses playing them in the film versions: Rita Moreno in West Side Story (1961) and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago (2002).
One of her more unusual dancing partners was children's TV stalwart Dancing Bear (Cosmo Allegretti) on Captain Kangaroo (1955).
She was nominated for a 2002 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Musical for "The Visit" at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
Performed the role of "Claire Zachanassian" in John Kander & Fred Ebb's "The Visit" at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia (2008).
Appearing nightly in her one woman cabaret show at Feinstein's at The Regency Hotel in New York City from February 22-March 12, 2005. [February 2005]
Chita: A Legendary Celebration

For one night only, Chita Rivera - a theatrical icon and one of Broadway's greatest triple-threat talents - will offer a star-studded event in honor of her 80th birthday [January 2013]
Currently in her own show on Broadway called Chita Rivera: The Dancers Life [December 2005]
Kicked off her Tour of "Cita Rivera: The Dancers Life" in Cincinnati, Ohio [December 2006]

Personal Quotes (1)

I don't see the camaraderie [on Broadway] as much anymore. Everyone wants to be a soloist before really learning how to relate. When you can relate to the person next to you without words and be alive, when you can keep the energy and interest going, it is magical.

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