Photo: PhilipRomanoPhoto

Broadway Legend Chita Rivera: Dead At 91

Trailblazing Latin actress and singer, Chita Rivera has died. She was 91 years of age.

On Tuesday (2.01,) Chita Rivera’s daughter, Lisa Mordente said her mother passed away peacefully on in New York City following a brief illness.

Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, 1933, Rivera was a trained ballerina from a young age and went on to study at the School of American Ballet before heading to Broadway.

Rivera was a triple threat, amassing 10 total Tony nominations and winning twice, the first time for “The Rink” in 1984 and then for “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1993.

Other shows she was nominated for throughout her career included “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Chicago,” “Bring Back Birdie,” “Merlin,” “Jerry’s Girls,” “Nine,” “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life” and “The Visit.”

In 2018, Rivera was also awarded a Tony for lifetime achievement in theatre, which included originating the roles of Anita in “West Side Story,” Rose Alvarez in “Bye Bye Birdie” and Velma Kelly in “Chicago.”

On the big scree, she starred opposite Shirley MacLainein 1969’s “Sweet Charity” and made a cameo in the 2002 film adaptation of “Chicago,” which went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards. She was most recently featured in the 2021 film “Tick, Tick, … Boom” about “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson.

Her television credits included several appearances on “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” with her “Bye Bye Birdie” co-star Dick Van Dyke.

Rivera received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2002 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2009.

She was married once, to Tony Mordente, whom she met during “West Side Story.” They were married from 1957 to 1966 and had one child together, daughter Lisa.

In 2021, Rivera offered advice to younger generations during an interview with “20/20,” saying, “Be yourself, work hard and … just think you can do everything and anything until you find out you can’t.”

Following the news of her passing, stars across Hollywood and Broadway remembered Rivera, including Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose.

“Chita Rivera is eternal,” Moreno said in an Instagram post. “I remember seeing her for the first time in Mr. Wonderful and exclaiming, ‘Oh my god, who IS that’? When I tound out that this astonishing creature was one of my people, I crowed with pride.”

“She was the essence of Broadway,” she added. “As I write this, I am raising a glass to this remarkable woman and friend. Chita, amiga, Salud!”

In an Instagram post she shared, DeBose called Rivera “a force.”

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Author: Al Denté

Photo: PhilipRomanoPhoto