Broadway star Chita Rivera died Tuesday at age 91, her daughter announced.
Rivera was a dancer and performer who originated the role of Anita in "West Side Story."
Here's what to know about her and her decadeslong career.
Chita Rivera, a Broadway legend who originated roles in beloved musicals like "West Side Story" and "Chicago," has died. She was 91.
Rivera's daughter, Lisa Mordente, announced the news of her mother's death, saying it happened on Tuesday after a brief illness.
Trained as a ballet dancer, Rivera became one of the most-nominated performers in the history of the Tony Awards throughout a decadeslong career that started when she was 19. Here's a look back at Rivera's life and legacy.
Chita Rivera was born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero Anderson.
Rivera was born in Washington, DC in 1933, to a Puerto Rican clarinetist father and a Scottish-Irish mother who worked as a government clerk. She was one of five children, and her father died when she was 7.
Rivera trained as a ballerina.
The Broadway legend wrote in her memoir that her mom put her in ballet as a child, after she was jumping around at home and shattered a coffee table. She later won a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, co-founded by famed choreographer George Balanchin.
Rivera left ballet school when she got a part in "Call Me Madam."
On a lark, Rivera joined one of her friends on an audition for the national touring company of the musical "Call Me Madam," led by Elaine Stritch. She won a part as a principal dancer and hit the road, launching her professional career.
Her breakthrough role was playing Anita in "West Side Story."
Rivera originated the role of Anita in "West Side Story" in 1957. It would become one of her most iconic parts.
"It was a job but became something so much bigger, in part because that musical was ripped from the headlines," Rivera told AARP in 2023.
Rivera married a "West Side Story" dancer and had a daughter with him.
Rivera and Tony Mordente, another dancer in the show, married in 1957. They had one child together, daughter Lisa Mordente, before divorcing in 1966.
She played Rose in "Bye Bye Birdie" opposite Dick Van Dyke, earning her first Tony nomination.
Rivera originated the part of Rose in the Broadway production of "Bye Bye Birdie." In 1961, she was nominated for best featured actress in a musical for the role.
She also originated the role of Velma Kelly in "Chicago," which earned her another Tony nomination five years later.
She won her first Tony Award for "The Rink," which she starred in with Liza Minnelli.
In 1984, Rivera won best actress in a musical for playing Anna in "The Rink." Minnelli played her daughter.
A car accident in 1986 almost ended her Broadway career.
Rivera broke her leg after the car she was driving collided with a taxi in Manhattan. She spent nearly a year in physical therapy before resuming dancing. Her first Broadway role after the accident, as the title character in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," earned Rivera her second of two competitive Tony wins.
Rivera was the first Latina to receive a Kennedy Center Honor in 2002.
Of receiving the honor, Rivera said, "I couldn't believe it, you know? I kept saying they've made a mistake!"
Rivera also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2009.
"When my mother was a child, she rolled Easter eggs on the lawn of the White House. And now, to receive The Medal of Freedom from our President, is truly a dream," she said in a statement on her award. "I am deeply honored to receive this award and to be in such distinguished company. I only wish my parents were here to share it with...but they are!"
Her final Broadway role was in 'The Visit' in 2015.
Rivera starred as Claire Zachanassian, a role originally written for Angela Lansbury, in a one-act version of "The Visit." She'd first played the role 14 years earlier, in 2001, when it was staged in Chicago. She earned her 10th and final Tony nomination for the role.
Rivera received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tonys.
In 2018, Rivera was honored with the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 72nd Tony Awards. It cemented her status as a legend and one of the most-nominated Broadway performers of all time.
She published a memoir in 2023.
"Chita: A Memoir," cowritten with Patrick Pacheco, was released last year.
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