2016 Berklee Honorary Doctorate: Rita Moreno

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Puerto Rican/American actress, singer and dancer Rita Moreno has had quite an astonishing career. The highlight from her career was her role as Anita in 1961′s West Side Story, but this role was only one of many for Moreno. From 1971-77 she was featured in the children’s show The Electric Company, where she was famous for singing “The Menu Song” for Morgan Freeman. She was one of the few who won all four major annual American achievement awards in then entertainment field: an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony.

Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico. After moving with her mother to New York City, Moreno started taking dance lessons from Paco Cansino. At age 11 she did many Spanish language versions of American films. Her first Broadway role she did was as Angelina in Skydrift. Through her work onstage, she caught Hollywood’s attention, which lead to smaller roles in the 1950s in movies such as The Toast of New Orleans (1950) and Singin’ in the Rain (1952). The movie which won her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award was West Side Story (1961).

After her Oscar win, she decided to do fewer movies because she got offered similar roles she didn’t want to do. Some other roles she took on were in movies such as Summer and Smoke (1961) and Cry of Battle (1963). She would eventually go on to more movie work, including her role in The Four Seasons (1981); most recently, she had a role in he animated kids’ movie Rio 2 (2014). Over the years she has also done appearances on several well-known TV shows such as The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, The Cosby Show, George Lopez, The Golden Girls, and Miami Vice.

Moreno has been a huge role model for the Puerto Rican community over the years for her TV, movie, and live acting appearances. Among her many awards, she won the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award in 2015. As she said at the 1962 Oscars, “I can’t believe it, good lord! I leave you with that.”

West Side Story – America 
Rita Moreno wins Oscar
West Side Story – A Boy Like That
The Animal and Rita Moreno singing “Fever” on The Muppet Show
Gina Rodriguez speech to Rita Moreno at The Kennedy Center Honors
Rita Moreno singing at The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno on The Electric Company 

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          February 11, 2017