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Monday, October 24, 2011

Rita Moreno Goes Beyond ‘West Side Story’

Rita Moreno in Los Angeles in 2007. (AP)

Rita Moreno in Los Angeles in 2007. (AP)

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the film “West Side Story.”

The “Romeo and Juliet” story, set amongst 1950s gangs in New York City, picked up 10 Academy Awards, including one for Rita Moreno, who won for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita, the girlfriend of gang leader Bernardo.

But as Moreno shows in her new one woman show, she has had a career well beyond that film. She is one of only a handful of EGOT winners (that’s the entertainment world’s grand slam, when performers take home an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award).

But there was frustration too.

Rita Moreno told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that as a Puerto Rican actress in 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, she was the “resident utility ethnic” playing Native Americans, a girl from Thailand, a Polynesian, and often prostitutes and spitfires.

And there was also heartbreak, with an ill-starred love affair with Marlon Brando.

Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup” is premiering at the Berkeley Rep Theater in Berkeley, California.

Guest:

  • Rita Moreno, actress

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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