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A Documentary on Rita Moreno's Life Is in the Works—with Lin-Manuel Miranda as an Exec Producer

Rita Moreno. Wikimedia Commons

A documentary about famed performer Rita Moreno is in the works for PBS' American Masters series, and with Lin-Manuel Miranda on board as an executive producer, we're doubly excited. Slated for a 2020 release, Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Decided to Go for It will delve into the life of the Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.

At 87, she's showing no signs of slowing down—for starters, her Netflix show, "One Day at a Time," was renewed by Pop TV earlier this summer. Moreno's response? To retweet this post of her—doing what else but—dancing.


While Moreno is best known for her role as Anita in the 1961 film version of West Side Story, her career has spanned television, film and Broadway alike. In celebration of the upcoming doc, we're sharing seven reasons she inspires us—and we hope they 'll be expanded on in The Girl Who Decided to Go for It.

1. She launched her career when she was only 11.

Moreno was a go-getter right from the start. When she was 11, she worked as a voiceover artist for Spanish versions of American movies. Then, at 13, she debuted on Broadway in a play called Skydrift.

2. After Moreno won an Oscar for Anita, she continued to be faced with stereotypical casting as a Hispanic woman, but she persevered—and even called it out. 

Moreno was the first Hispanic woman to win an Academy Award. But even after she took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in West Side Story, she faced difficulties in her career. In 2008, she reflected on the experience, telling the Miami Herald:

"What is interesting to me is having the vision so early and yet feeling so inferior to everybody else in the business for years and years because I believed I had to be subservient to anybody who wasn't Latino. Before West Side Story I was always offered the stereotypical Latina roles. The Conchitas and Lolitas in westerns. I was always barefoot. It was humiliating, embarrassing stuff. But I did it because there was nothing else. After West Side Story, it was pretty much the same thing. A lot of gang stories."

3. She's one of only two people to EGOT and complete the Triple Crown of Acting. 

Moreno, along with Helen Hayes, is one of only two people ever to rack up the awards necessary for both an EGOT—that is, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—and what's known as the Triple Crown of Acting (an Ocsar, Emmy and Tony each in competitive acting categories). That doesn't even include the other major awards she's snagged, such as the Peabody Career Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Kennedy Center Honor.

4. Her first Emmy was for an appearance on "The Muppet Show."

A guest spot during a Season 1 episode of "The Muppet Show" in 1976 proved that Moreno could hold her own with the likes of Kermit, Animal and the gang. In the above dance scene, she partners a life-sized puppet, though she's most definitely not letting him lead her. Her humorous appearance earned her an Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

5. You may recognize her voice from a famous 1990s cartoon.

Moreno voiced the character of Carmen Sandiego in the TV series "Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?" from 1994–99. And, earlier this year, she returned to the franchise, voicing Cookie Booker in Netflix's "Carmen Sandiego" reboot.

6. She can rock the same dress 56 years later.

The award for Best Outfit Repeater of All Time easily goes to Moreno. For the 2018 Oscars, she rewore her gown from the 1962 awards. Back then, she was accepting her Oscar for West Side Story. Who wore it better: 1962 or 2018 Rita? The jury is still out.

7. She's currently filming a role in Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake.

While Moreno is passing on her iconic Anita role to the inimitable Ariana DeBose, Moreno won't be absent from 2020's remake. She quipped on Instagram that "an 87 year old 'Anita' just won't do." Instead, she's been cast as Valentina, a corner store owner (originally written as Doc) whose role has been expanded. We can't wait to see Moreno back on the silver screen.

In Memoriam
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Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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