What a woman! She’s 81, and if there’s anyone you’d love to have more than 15 minutes with which to spend, it’s the only Hispanic ever to win the grand slam of entertainment; an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony. One of those Emmys was for Ms. Moreno’s performance on The Muppet Show above, and I was thrilled that she wanted to talk about that since that was my first memory of her. It’s a memory I get to relive over and again, and again some more, since my daughters love the Muppet Show DVDs.
Gee, what else has Rita Moreno accomplished? Well, for someone raised in Puerto Rico until coming to New York at age 5 and who learned dancing from one of the famous Dancing Cansinos – from which another Hollywood legend would come, just a smidge. She went from having a bit part as a 17-year-old in one of the most perfect movies ever made, Singin’ In The Rain, to winning an Academy Award for West Side Story nine years later.
Ms. Moreno avoided Hollywood for much of the decade after her Oscar because she didn’t want to be typecast as the fiery Latina. Then, there was a little public television show in the early 1970’s.
There were also those dalliances with Marlon Brando and Elvis, but all that’s in Ms. Moreno’s bestselling memoir.
She is talking about taking her recent one-woman show on tour, but Ms. Moreno says she doesn’t want to miss out on spending time with her grandchildren, too. Thankfully, we will get to host one of the best entertainers of all time this weekend, June 28-29, as Ms. Moreno will be inducted into the Great American Songbook Initiative Hall of Fame.
I hope you enjoy my talk with her. I sure as heck did.