PortraitIn 1962, she was the first Hispanic actress to win an Oscar for the famous musical. A reward that has failed to free Rita Moreno from the connoted roles to which she has remained confined throughout her career. At almost 90 years old, the actress stars in the remake of Steven Spielberg, in theaters on December 8.
For a long time, this image both pursued and reassured her. Nominated in 1962 for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story, Rita Moreno sits in the hall of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, next to George Chakiris, her partner in the Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins film. The Puerto Rican actress watches Rock Hudson open the envelope. And it is she, Rita Moreno, that he designates. “I was the first Latina actress to obtain the precious statuette, tells, by phone, the actress of almost 90 years. It was a historic moment, I was fully aware of it. “
In Steven Spielberg’s revisited version of the musical, Releasing in France on December 8, Rita Moreno holds a small role and officiates as executive producer. Between the West Side Story history and that of the director ofE.T., the actress is like a link between two eras.
“At the time, the studio dictated your every move. I had to be cute, sexy. And we decided for me who I was going to go out with at night. »Rita Moreno
In 1962, Rita Moreno was 31 years old and already had a good start to her career. As soon as she arrived from Puerto Rico, she went on stage for the first time in New York, at the age of 7. Spotted by Hollywood talent seekers, in the early 1950s she signed an exclusive contract with MGM and its prestigious boss, Louis B. Mayer.
“At the time, the studio dictated your every move, tells the actress. My agent could not propose me in a film not produced by MGM. I was also told what to do: I had to be cute, sexy. And we decided for me who I was going to go out with at night. Fortunately, this contract allowed me to play in Let’s sing in the rain, by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, in 1952. It was he, Gene Kelly, who came to get me. He never said to himself: “This girl is too Latina.” Besides, my role has nothing to do with my ethnic origins, and I consider it to be one of the peaks of my career. Although it might sound strange to say that, since I was only 21 at the time. “
An Oscar for nothing
In 1954, Rita Moreno made the cover of the magazine Life, with the title: “Rita Moreno: an actress who declines all the nuances of innocence and sex. “The formula owes a lot to the relationship that the actress had with Marlon Brando. On the set of Desired, where the star plays Napoleon, she finds herself in the same makeup room as him. “My body temperature rose as high as if I had been immersed in a hot bath”, she still remembers today. Their affair lasted eight years, with ups and downs. Lots of stockings. Until the moment when Rita Moreno leaves Marlon Brando for Elvis Presley.
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“I was a Latina actress, I remained a Latina actress”: Rita Moreno, from one “West Side Story” to another