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Becoming Bilingual - Rita Moreno Bio

Rita Moreno has appeared on stage, television and in concert and film for more than 40 years. She is the only female to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards - the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy - an achievement that is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records. The Oscar was for her performance as Anita in the 1962 motion picture "West Side Story." The two Emmys were for a 1977 variety appearance on "The Muppet Show" and for a dramatic guest appearance on "The Rockford Files" in 1978. The Tony was for her 1973 triumph on Broadway as Googie Gomez in "The Ritz." And, the Grammy was for her 1972 performance on "The Electric Company" album for children, which was based on the highly regarded and long-running television show of the same name.

She has also received dozens of other show business awards, most notably the Golden Globe, the Golden Apple Award, and the Joseph Jefferson Award as best actress in Chicago's theatrical season in 1968 for her brilliant performance as Serafina in "The Rose Tattoo." In 1985 she repeated her Chicago triumph and was awarded the prestigious Sarah Siddons Award for her portrayal of Olive Madison in the female version of "The Odd Couple." In 1995, Moreno received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Rita Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, a small town near the famous rain forest of Puerto Rico. At five years old, she and her mother moved to New York and the following year she started dancing lessons. At age 13, she had her Broadway debut in "Skydrift." Four years later, in the true tradition of Hollywood, a talent scout arranged a meeting with Louis B. Mayer, and Moreno was signed for a contract with MGM.

From that point on her career advanced steadily. She made some thirty films early in her career, and was often typecast as a Mexican spitfire or an Indian maiden. It was only after she won an Academy Award for her performance in "West Side Story," which gained her international acclaim, that she was finally recognized as a major talent.

Among her most recent projects are performances in "Cosby Mystery Series," the highly acclaimed HBO series "Oz," Anne Meara's "After Play," and Circle Repertory's production of "Size of the World." In 2002 Moreno appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in a production of "Candide." She is also featured in the 2005 film "April Showers."

In addition to her film, stage, television and concert careers, Moreno fills her spare time by lecturing to various organizations as well as to university audiences. She is also involved with a number of civic and charitable organizations and events. She has served on the National Foundation for the Arts, as a commissioner on the President's White House Fellowships, and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

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