Rita Moreno

Legendary Artist
1999

Rita Moreno's extensive career in music, film and dance ranges from her Academy-Award winning performance as Anita in the 1962 motion picture "West Side Story" to her two Emmy Award-winning performances on "The Muppet Show." She is the only female performer to win all four of the entertainment industry's most prestigious awards - the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony and the Grammy.

Puerto Rican-born and New York-raised, Moreno was on Broadway performing in "Skydrift" with Eli Wallach when she was 13 years old. At age 17, she was signed by Louis B. Mayer to a contract with MGM. She has made over 40 films, among which she is loved for her role as Tuptim in "The King and I," her role opposite Marlon Brando in "The Night of the Following Day,"and her performance in Mike Nichols'" Carnal Knowledge." On Broadway, she is remembered for her inimitable performances in the female version of "The Odd Couple," "The Ritz," for which she was awarded the Tony, "Gantry," and "Last of the Red Hot Lovers." Recently, Moreno starred in the London version of "Sunset Boulevard."

Whether on stage or screen, Moreno displays a deep commitment to illuminating the ability of the arts to transform people. She was a featured artist for many years on "The Electric Company," the highly successful children's education program. She broke racial and gender barriers through her portrayals of an Irish teacher, Italian widow, evangelist, English lady and southern belle, helping pave the way for non-traditional casting of Latinas. In 1993 Moreno performed at President Clinton's inauguration, and later that month accepted an invitation to return to Washington, D.C. to perform at the White House.

She has previously served on the NEA's National Council on the Arts and has been a member of the White House Fellowship Committee. Currently, she is an active member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and she has presented several passionate speeches on the importance of the arts and the role of the arts in children's lives before such groups as the United States Conference of Mayors. Her university lectures and involvement in numerous charitable organizations and events have made her an outstanding spokesperson for the arts.

Moreno is married to physician Leonard Gordon and their daughter Fernanda is an actress and artist.