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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chita Rivera
Rivera in 1997
Born
Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero

(1933-01-23)January 23, 1933
DiedJanuary 30, 2024(2024-01-30) (aged 91)
Occupations
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
Years active1950–2024
Spouse
(m. 1957; div. 1966)
ChildrenLisa Mordente
AwardsFull list
Websitechitarivera.com
Signature

Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero (January 23, 1933 – January 30, 2024), known professionally as Chita Rivera, was an American actress, singer, and dancer. Rivera received numerous accolades including two Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, and a Drama League Award. She was the first Latina and the first Latino American[1] to receive a Kennedy Center Honor in 2002, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.[2] She won the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018.

After making her Broadway debut as a dancer in Guys and Dolls (1950), she went on to originate roles in Broadway musicals such as Anita in West Side Story (1957), Velma Kelly in Chicago (1975), and the title role in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993). She was a ten-time Tony Award nominee, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical twice for her roles in The Rink (1984) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993).[3] She was Tony-nominated for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1961), Chicago (1975), Bring Back Birdie (1981), Merlin (1983), Jerry's Girls (1986), Nine (2003), Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life (2005), and The Visit (2015).

Rivera acted in the film Sweet Charity (1969) and appeared in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), and Tick, Tick... Boom! (2021). She played Connie Richardson in the CBS sitcom The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1973–1974). She also appeared on television in The Judy Garland Show (1963), The Carol Burnett Show (1971), and Will & Grace (2005). Her autobiography, Chita: A Memoir, was published in 2023.[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life - Choreographer Lesson
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  • SWEET CHARITY (1969) Clip - Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly "Big Spender"
  • Celebrating the late Chita Rivera
  • Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman

Transcription

Early life and education

Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero[5][6] was born in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 1933,[7] the daughter of Katherine (née Anderson), a government clerk, and Pedro Julio Figueroa del Rivero,[6] a clarinetist and saxophonist for the U.S. Navy Band. Her father was born in Puerto Rico. His family names are of Galician origin. Her mother was of Scottish, Irish, and African-American descent.[8] Rivera was one of five children.[9] Rivera was seven years old when her mother was widowed and went to work at The Pentagon.[10]

In 1944, Rivera's mother enrolled her in the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet (now the Jones Haywood School of Dance).[11] 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 accompanied to the audition by Doris Jones, one of the people who ran the Jones-Haywood School. Rivera's audition was successful, and she was accepted into the school and given a scholarship.[12]

Career

1951–1993: Breakthrough and stardom

Paula Kelly (third from right) and Chita Rivera (second from right) in
Sweet Charity (1969).

In 1951, Rivera accompanied a friend to the audition for the touring company of Call Me Madam starring Elaine Stritch and ended up winning the role herself. She followed this by landing roles in other Broadway productions such as Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Mr. Wonderful starring Sammy Davis, Jr., and Seventh Heaven[13] and dancing on The Maurice Chevalier Special in 1956.[14] In 1957, she was cast as Anita in West Side Story, the role which would make her a Broadway star.[15]

In 1960, Rivera was nominated for a Tony Award[3] for creating the role of Rose in Bye Bye Birdie opposite Dick Van Dyke. She appeared three times on The Ed Sullivan Show[14] and won raves for her performance on Broadway and in London opposite Peter Marshall, but was passed over for the film version where the role was played by Janet Leigh. In 1963, Rivera was a guest on The Judy Garland Show and was cast opposite Alfred Drake in Zenda. The Broadway-bound musical closed on the road but in 1964, Rivera returned to Broadway in Bajour[13] and television in The Outer Limits[14]. After seeing her perform in the musical, music producer Norman Petty approached her in New York and inquired about recording with him. Her first single was released in 1965 on the Dot Records label, with a second single issued in 1966. Making a trip to Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico in 1966, she was backed by The Fireballs for a full album of Buddy Holly cover songs, but the project went unreleased.[16]

Among many national tours, Rivera starred most notably in Sweet Charity directed by Bob Fosse, playing the role of Nickie in the film adaptation of Sweet Charity with Shirley MacLaine (1969).[12] Rivera appeared three times on The Hollywood Palace, twice on The Carol Burnett Show (including an episode airing February 22, 1971[17][14]) and between 1973 and 1974, played Connie Richardson on The New Dick Van Dyke Show.[14] In 1975, Rivera was nominated for a Tony Award[3] starring as Velma Kelly opposite Gwen Verdon in the original cast of the musical Chicago,[12] directed by Bob Fosse. In addition to her ballet instructors, Rivera cited Leonard Bernstein and Verdon, with whom she starred in Chicago, as influential to her success.[18] She later made a cameo appearance in the 2002 film version. She appeared as Fastrada in a filmed-for-television version of the musical Pippin in 1981, and was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards for Bring Back Birdie (1981)[19] and a Tony Award for Merlin (1983) on Broadway.[3]

In 1984, Rivera starred in the Kander and Ebb musical The Rink with Liza Minnelli and won her first Tony and Drama Desk awards for her role as Anna. In 1986, while earning a Tony Award nomination[3] for her performance in the Jerry Herman musical, Jerry's Girls, 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. Recovered, in 1988, she toured the country in Can-Can and got involved in a restaurant venture in partnership with the novelist Daniel Simone. The eatery, located on 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, was named "Chita's" after her. It soon became a significant attraction for the after-theater crowds and operated until 1994.[12]

1993–2023: Later career and roles

Rivera with President Barack Obama prior to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, August 2009

In 1993, Rivera received Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her dual portrayal of Aurora and Spider Woman in the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, written by Kander and Ebb.[12] Rivera later participated in the London edition of Kander and Ebb's long-running revival of Chicago, this time in the role of Roxie Hart. Rivera starred in the Goodman Theatre production of the musical The Visit (also by Kander and Ebb) as Claire Zachanassian in 2001. In 2002, she became a Kennedy Center Honoree.[20] 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 appeared with Antonio Banderas. She later appeared on the revival's cast album.[12]

She guest-starred along with Michele Lee in a February 2005 episode of Will & Grace, and in December of that year, Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, a retrospective of her career, opened on Broadway. She received another Tony nomination for her self-portrayal. Though she was expected to reprise her role in a Signature Theatre staging of The Visit in autumn of 2007, that was later postponed to the following season. Instead, she performed at New York's Feinstein's at the Regency supper club in New York for two weeks and, in 2008, appeared in a revised production of The Visit at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, co-starring George Hearn.[12][21] Rivera guest-starred on Disney Channel's Johnny and the Sprites as Queen of All Magical Beings. The episode debuted on March 15, 2008.[22]

Rivera in 2022

In August 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama presented Rivera the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[2] In the 1960s, Rivera had recorded two albums, Chita Rivera: Get Me To The Church On Time and And Now I Sing. These early 1960s albums were reissued on CD by Stage Door Records in February 2013.[12] In November 2008, Rivera released her third solo album, And Now I Swing. Rivera performed in a staged concert of The Visit as a benefit at the Ambassador Theatre on November 30, 2011.[23] In 2012, Rivera played "Princess Puffer" in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Studio 54.[24] She was the Grand Marshal of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City on June 9, 2013.[25]

Rivera returned to Broadway in The Visit, the final musical written by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally. The musical opened at the Lyceum Theatre on March 26, 2015, and closed on June 14, 2015. Co-starring Roger Rees, the production was directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele.[26] Rivera received praise for her performance, and was nominated for a Tony Award, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical[27] and a Drama Desk Award.[28] The Astaire Awards were rebranded The Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography in 2017.[29] In 2018, she received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.[30] In 2019, Time Out New York named her "one of the best Broadway divas of all time."[31]

Rivera had been a frequent guest narrator at Disney's Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World, most recently appearing in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.[32]

Personal life

On December 1, 1957, Rivera married fellow West Side Story dancer Tony Mordente. They were divorced in 1966.[10] Rivera's performance was so important for the success of the show that the London production of West Side Story was postponed until she gave birth to the couple's daughter Lisa in 1958. Despite the divorce, Rivera and Mordente remained on good terms.[33] Mordente died in June 2024, only five months after Rivera's death.[33]

Rivera was a Roman Catholic.[34]

Death

Rivera died in New York following a brief illness on January 30, 2024, aged 91.[10][35]

Acting credits

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1969 Sweet Charity Nickie [36][37]
1978 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Guest at Heartland [37][38]
1983 He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin' Herself Documentary[39]
2002 Chicago Nickie Cameo[36][37]
2003 Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There Herself Documentary[38][40]
2006 Kalamazoo? Giannina [36][40]
2010 The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! Singer Voice[41]
2012 Carol Channing: Larger Than Life Herself Documentary[38][40]
Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky Herself Documentary[36][38]
2018 Still Waiting in the Wings Broadway Diva Documentary[36][40]
2021 Tick, Tick... Boom! "Sunday" Legend [40]
2023 Studio One Forever Herself Documentary

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1956 The Maurice Chevalier Show Herself 1 episode[42]
1960 The Gary Moore Show Herself 1 episode[43]
1963 The Judy Garland Show Herself Episode 17[36]
1964 The Outer Limits Mrs. Dane Episode: "The Bellero Shield"[36][40]
1965 The Hollywood Palace Herself 1 episode[44]
1971 The Carol Burnett Show Various characters Episode: "4.22"[36]
1973 The Marcus-Nelson Murders Josie Hopper Television film[36][38]
1973–1974 The New Dick Van Dyke Show Connie Richardson Main role; 7 episodes[36][40]
1977 Once Upon a Brothers Grimm Gingerbread Lady Episode: "Hansel and Gretel"[40]
1981 Pippin: His Life and Times Fastrada Television film[40]
1982 Strawberry Ice Performer Television film[45]
1987 Mayflower Madam Risa Dickstein Television film[36][38]
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Katy Voice, episode: "Thumbelina"[40]
2004, 2019 Dora The Explorer The Witch Voice, 2 episodes[46]
2005 Will & Grace Lenore Portillo Episode: "Dance Cards and Greeting Cards"[36][40]
2008 Johnny and the Sprites The Queen Episode: "Johnny Not Invited"[47]
2011 Submissions Only Gladys Franklin Episode: "Yore So Bad"[48][49]

Theatre (selected)

Year Title Role Venue Ref.
1950 Guys and Dolls Dancer (replacement) 46th Street Theatre [50]
1953 Can-Can Dancer Shubert Theatre
1955 Seventh Heaven Fifi ANTA Playhouse
1956 Mr. Wonderful Rita Romano Broadway Theatre
1957 Shinbone Alley Mehitabel
West Side Story Anita Winter Garden Theatre
1960 Bye Bye Birdie Rose Alvarez Martin Beck Theatre
1964 Bajour Anyanka Shubert Theatre
1975 Chicago Velma Kelly 46th Street Theatre
1981 Bring Back Birdie Rose Alvarez Martin Beck Theatre
1983 Merlin The Queen Mark Hellinger Theatre
1984 The Rink Anna Martin Beck Theatre
1985 Jerry's Girls Performer St. James Theatre
1993 Kiss of the Spider Woman Spider Woman/Aurora Broadhurst Theatre
2003 Nine Liliane La Fleur Eugene O'Neill Theatre
2005 Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life Herself Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
2012 The Mystery of Edwin Drood The Princess Puffer / Miss Angela Prysock Studio 54
2015 The Visit Claire Zachannassian Lyceum Theatre

Awards and honors

Rivera was nominated for the Tony Award ten times, as either Best Featured Actress in a Musical or Best Actress in a Musical. This is the current record for the most individual Tony Award nominations for a performer, which she shares with Julie Harris and Audra McDonald. In 2009, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Rivera was honored as The New Jewish Home's Eight Over Eighty Gala 2016 honoree. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida in 2018.[51]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref(s)
1961 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Bye Bye Birdie Nominated [52][53]
1976 Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Chicago Nominated [52][53]
1981 Bring Back Birdie Nominated [52][53]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated [54]
1983 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Merlin Nominated [52][53]
1984 The Rink Won [52][53]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won [55]
1986 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Jerry's Girls Nominated [52][53]
1993 Kiss of the Spider Woman Won [52][53]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won [56]
2002 Kennedy Center Honors Kennedy Center Honors Herself Won [57]
2003 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Nine Nominated [52][53]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated [58]
2006 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life Nominated [52][53]
2015 The Visit Nominated [52][53]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated [59]
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Won [50][60]
Theatre World Award John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Herself Won [61]
2018 Tony Award Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Won [53][62]

See also

References

  1. ^ "In 35 Years, Kennedy Center has Honored Only One Hispanic American…Chita Rivera". AllGov.
  2. ^ a b "President Obama Names Medal of Freedom Recipients", White House Office of the Press Secretary, July 30, 2009
  3. ^ a b c d e "Chita Rivera Tony Awards Info". Broadway World. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  4. ^ Morris, Bob (April 17, 2023). "Chita Rivera on Love, Showbiz and All That Jazz". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  5. ^ "There is no stopping Chita Rivera". CBS News. Interviewed by Rocca, Mo. December 15, 2013. Archived from the original on February 6, 2024. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  6. ^ a b "Biography". ChitaRivera.com. Archived from the original on November 13, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  7. ^ Rose, Mike (January 23, 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 23, 2023 includes celebrities Mariska Hargitay, Chita Rivera". Cleveland.com. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  8. ^ "Chita Rivera: What I Know Now". aarp.org. AARP. March 27, 2023. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  9. ^ "Lighting Up The Stage With Stars Of A Certain Age – For Chita Rivera And A Host Of Other Veteran Actresses, Age Is No Longer An Issue | The Seattle Times". archive.seattletimes.com. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c McFadden, Robert D. (January 30, 2024). "Chita Rivera, Electrifying Star of Broadway and Beyond, Is Dead at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  11. ^ Kaufman, Sarah L (March 15, 2016). "How Chita Rivera keeps dancing at 83, with 16 screws in her leg". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Ratner-Arias, Sigal (September 4, 2009). "Q&A: Chita Rivera reflects on life in the theater". Taiwan News. AP. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Chita Rivera – Broadway Cast & Staff". IBDB. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
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  24. ^ "Chita Rivera returns to Broadway for Edwin Drood revival". CBC News. Associated Press. March 1, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
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  26. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "A Musical Nearly 20 Years in the Making: 'The Visit', Starring Chita Rivera, Arrives On Broadway at Long Last" Playbill/, March 26, 2015
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  32. ^ Candlelight Processional 2022 narrators
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Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 16 June 2024, at 20:47
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