Rita Moreno becomes first Latina PEGOT winner

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Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno is continuing to break ground for Latina entertainers.

The Puerto Rico native, 87, recently was honored with the Peabody Career Achievement Award, presented by Mercedes-Benz, at the 78th Annual Peabody Awards in New York City.

The award makes Moreno the first Latina to achieve PEGOT status, having previously won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Multi-hyphenate Barbra Streisand and film director Mike Nichols are the other two PEGOT winners, according to Entertainment Tonight.

“I am keenly aware of the high value Peabody places on storytelling and I am humbled that you consider the story of my life and career worthy,” Moreno said in her acceptance speech at the event, where she garnered a standing ovation.

The legendary actress recalled how she fought to break down barriers in the industry after moving to New York City from Puerto Rico at the age of 5 with her mother, a “sweatshop seamstress.”

“She knew the prick of every pin,” Moreno said of her mother. “My fame is her fame therefore this beautiful precious honor is also in her honor.”

Moreno is perhaps best known for her performance in the 1961 film “West Side Story,” for which she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Anita, the tough but vulnerable girlfriend to the Sharks’s gang leader. She became the first Latina to win a best supporting actress Oscar.

In the 1970s, Moreno won her Grammy for best children’s album as part of the cast of “The Electric Company” and earned her Tony for best featured actress in a play for “The Ritz.” She went on to win Emmy Awards for her guest appearances on “The Muppet Show” (1977) and “The Rockford Files” (1978).

Moreno will return to big screen in a new movie adaptation of the 1957 Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical directed by Oscar winner Steven Spielberg. In addition, Moreno will also be an executive producer of the film, according to Deadline.

Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the musical West Side Story explores forbidden love, and the rivalry between two New York City street gangs – the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks – which is complicated when one of the Jets, Tony, falls in love with Maria, the sister of one of the Sharks.

In the new “West Side Story,” Moreno will be playing a new character Valentina, the widow of the character Doc, who in the original musical was the owner of the drug store where Tony works, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Filming on Spielberg’s “West Side Story” is set to begin in summer.

-BAM

 

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