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Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera

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Also Known As: Chita O'Hara, Dolores Conchita Figueroa Del Rivero, Conchita Del Rivero Died:
Born: January 23, 1933 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Washington, Washington D.C., USA Profession: actor, dancer, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Dynamic Latina dancer-singer-actress, a staple of Broadway musicals for four decades. Shortly after studying for several years at George Balanchine's American School of Ballet, Rivera made her Broadway debut in "Call Me Madam" (1952). A sinuous dancer very much in the vein standardized by Jerome Robbins and later Bob Fosse, Rivera brought her fiery energy to many Broadway and regional productions, including originating the role of Anita in "West Side Story" (1959), "Can Can", "Mr. Wonderful", "Bye, Bye Birdie" (as Spanish Rose), "Shinebone Alley", "Chicago" (as Velma), "Merlin", "Jerry's Girls" and a Tony-winning turn opposite Liza Minnelli in "The Rink". Although she has had her fair share of shows which quickly closed ("Bajour", "Bring Back Birdie"), Rivera has typically been worth watching.Rivera has frequently appeared on TV, most often on such variety specials as "Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne" (1987). She has played occasional dramatic roles on TV, including a memorable turn as the sinister Mrs. Dame on an episode of the cult series, "The Outer Limits" (1963-64). Rivera's lone feature film appearance of note was in Bob Fosse's adaptation of the Broadway hit, "Sweet Charity" (1969), in...

Dynamic Latina dancer-singer-actress, a staple of Broadway musicals for four decades. Shortly after studying for several years at George Balanchine's American School of Ballet, Rivera made her Broadway debut in "Call Me Madam" (1952). A sinuous dancer very much in the vein standardized by Jerome Robbins and later Bob Fosse, Rivera brought her fiery energy to many Broadway and regional productions, including originating the role of Anita in "West Side Story" (1959), "Can Can", "Mr. Wonderful", "Bye, Bye Birdie" (as Spanish Rose), "Shinebone Alley", "Chicago" (as Velma), "Merlin", "Jerry's Girls" and a Tony-winning turn opposite Liza Minnelli in "The Rink". Although she has had her fair share of shows which quickly closed ("Bajour", "Bring Back Birdie"), Rivera has typically been worth watching.

Rivera has frequently appeared on TV, most often on such variety specials as "Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne" (1987). She has played occasional dramatic roles on TV, including a memorable turn as the sinister Mrs. Dame on an episode of the cult series, "The Outer Limits" (1963-64). Rivera's lone feature film appearance of note was in Bob Fosse's adaptation of the Broadway hit, "Sweet Charity" (1969), in which, as one of Shirley MacLaine's sassy girlfriends, she sparkled singing and dancing to "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" with MacLaine and Paula Kelly. After a severe automobile accident in 1986, it seemed doubtful that Rivera would ever dance again, but she returned to Broadway in triumph as the film star centerpiece of a gay prisoner's fantasies in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1993). The role earned her second Tony as Best Actress in a Musical.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Broadway: The Golden Age (2004) Herself
4.
 Chicago (2003) Nickie
5.
 Mayflower Madam (1987) Risa Dickstein
7.
 Marcus-Nelson Murders, The (1973) Josie Hopper
8.
 Sweet Charity (1969) Nickie
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1952:
Performed in the national touring show of "Call Me Madam", first with Ethel Merman, then Elaine Stritch in lead role; billed as Conchita del Rivero
1953:
Was briefly featured in "Guys and Dolls" before moving to the chorus of "Can-Can"
1955:
Appeared in the ensemble of the Off-Broadway show "The Shoestring Revue"; for three days billed as Chita O'Hara before adopting current stage name
1957:
Breakthrough stage role, Anita in "West Side Story"; reprised part in London production in 1958
:
Was active on TV variety shows of the late 1950s and early 1960s; also made occasional dramatic appearances on such anthology shows as "The Outer Limits" (as Mrs. Dame in the episode, "The Bellero Shield")
1960:
Co-starred as Rosie in the hit Broadway musical "Bye Bye Birdie"; also reprised role in London in 1961
1964:
Had leading role in "Bajour", choreographed by Michael Bennett
1967:
Toured USA and Canada in title role of "Sweet Charity"
1969:
Feature film acting debut, as Nickie in the film version of the Broadway musical, "Sweet Charity"
1972:
Had rare non-singing stage role in Philadelphia production of "Born Yesterday"
1973:
Played a dramatic role in the TV-movie, "The Marcus-Nelson Murders", a pilot for the series, "Kojak"
:
Appeared on "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" in a recurring role as Connie Richardson, who, along with husband Richard (played by Richard Dawson), was the next-door neighbor to Van Dyke's character
1975:
With Gwen Verdon, headlined the Bob Fosse-John Kander-Fred Ebb musical vaudeville "Chicago"; cast as "merry murderess" Velma Kelly
1978:
Made a guest cameo appearance along with many other stars in the teen rock'n'roll musical, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
1981:
Reprised role of Rosie in the short-lived flop sequel "Bring Back Birdie"
1983:
Played the Queen in the musical "Merlin", starring magician Doug Henning
1984:
Earned first Tony Award for portrayal of the owner of the titular establishment in "The Rink", book by Terrence McNally and score by Kander & Ebb
:
Last Broadway show for seven years, "Jerry's Girls", a revue spotlighting the music of Jerry Herman
1986:
Was in a severe accident when her car collided with a taxi on West 86th Street in Manhattan; injuries sustained included the breaking of her left leg in 12 places
1987:
Appeared in rare dramatic role on primetime TV in a supporting role in the CBS TV-movie, "Mayflower Madam", starring Candice Bergen
1993:
Returned to Broadway after a seven-year absence to play the title role in the musical version of "Kiss of the Spider Woman", book by McNally and score by Kander & Ebb; had originated role in London; received second Tony Award
:
Appeared in nightclubs around the USA
1999:
Headlined a Las Vegas production of "Chicago" playing role of Roxie Hart
2000:
Starred in the Paper Mill Playhouse revival of "Anything Goes"
2001:
Had rare dramatic role on stage in the play "Venecia", adapted and staged by Arthur Laurents
2001:
Starred in the stage musical "Casper"
2001:
Reunited with Kander & Ebb to headline the musical "The Visit"; opened in Chicago in October
2005:
Headlined "Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life"; earned a Tony nomination
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Taft High School: Bronx , New York -
School of American Ballet: New York , New York -

Notes

Rivera has also been nominated for Tonys for Best Featured (Supporting) Actress in a Musical for "Bye, Bye, Birdie" (1961) and for Best Actress in a Musical for "Chicago" (1976), "Bring Back Birdie" (1981, which opened March 5 and closed March 7), "Merlin" (1983), and "Jerry's Girls" (1986).

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Anthony Mordente. Dancer, director. Married December 1, 1957.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Pedro Julio Figueroa. Musician. Played clarinet and saxophone; died when Rivera was seven.
mother:
Katherine Anderson del Rivero. Government clerk. Died in 1983.
daughter:
Lisa Mordente. Choreographer.

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