Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23: Chita Rivera of "West Side Story" on Broadway is 81-years-old today.

Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in Washington, D.C., Chita Rivera has had a successful career as an actress, dancer, and singer - and is best known for her roles in musical theater.

She is the first Hispanic woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award in December 2002. She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Rivera's father was a clarinetist and saxophonist for the United States Navy Band. He was Puerto Rican and her mother was of Scottish and Italian descent.

In 1944, Rivera's mother enrolled her in the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet (now the Jones Haywood School of Dance). Later, when she was 15, a teacher from George Balanchine's School of American Ballet visited their studio and Rivera was one of two students picked to audition in New York City. She was accepted into the school and given a scholarship.

In 1952, Rivera accompanied a friend to the audition for a Broadway production of Call Me Madam and ended up winning the role herself. She followed this by landing roles in other Broadway productions such as Guys and Dolls and Can-Can.

In 1957, she was cast in the role which was destined to make her a Broadway star, the firebrand Anita in West Side Story. (Rita Moreno stared in the 1961 film version).

Rivera also starred in a national tour of Can-Can and played the role of Nicky in the film adaptation of Sweet Charity with Shirley MacLaine.
In 1963, Rivera was cast opposite Alfred Drake in Zenda. In 1975 she appeared as Velma Kelly in the original cast of the musical Chicago.
(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):
And Now I Swing


In 1986, Rivera was in a severe accident when her car collided with a taxi on West 86th Street in Manhattan. Injuries sustained included the breaking of her left leg in twelve places, requiring eighteen screws and two braces to mend. After rehabilitation, Rivera continued to perform on stage.

She appeared in a filmed for the television version of the musical Pippin in 1981, as "Fastrada." In 1993, she received a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Aurora in the Tony-award winning musical Kiss of the Spider Woman. Rivera starred in the Goodman Theatre production of the Kander and Ebb musical The Visit as "Claire Zachanassian in 2001.

With Gwen Verdon in Chicago.
In 2003, Rivera returned to Broadway in the 2003 revival of Nine as Liliane La Fleur, and received her eighth career Tony Award nomination (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) and fourth Drama Desk Award nomination (Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical).  She later appeared on the revival's cast album.

In November 2009, Rivera released a new album titled, And Now I Swing to rave reviews.


For more about Chita, visit her Website at -


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