Music Center to honor Rita Moreno at Summer Soirée

Rita Moreno is photographed in Beverly Hills in 2013.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Rita Moreno, whose career has spanned an Academy Award-winning turn as the hotheaded Anita in 1961’s “West Side Story” to her role as Liliana De La Vega on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” will be honored at the Music Center of Los Angeles’ inaugural Summer Soirée next week.

The veteran actress-dancer-singer, 84, will receive the Excellence in the Performing Arts Award “for her revolutionary efforts to help redefine the role of women in the arts,” the Music Center said.

The Puerto Rican-born, Bronx-raised Rosa Dolores Alverio made her Broadway debut at age 13 in “Skydrift.” In 2014, she told the Los Angeles Times that at the start of her film career at MGM in the early 1950s, she was quickly typecast in the exotic, dark-skinned “dusky maiden” role. “The house ethnic,” she called it.


“I should have had this little kit with a shoe box that had dark Egyptian pancake makeup, two hoop earrings and an ankle bracelet,” Moreno said.

Today, she is one of only 12 EGOTs — performers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. She won Emmys for “The Muppet Show” and “The Rockford Files” in the late 1970s, a Grammy for 1972’s “The Electric Company Album” and her Tony for 1975’s “The Ritz.”

The July 7 Summer Soirée will be a celebration of female artists: American Ballet Theatre principal dancers and Southern California natives Misty Copeland and Stella Abrera will perform choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s “Firebird” during the event, which will include live music and dancing in Grand Park afterward. Choreographer Debbie Allen and actress Regina King are among those expected to attend.

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