Chita Rivera 90th birthday, reflects on ‘big roles’

A landmark celebration! Chita Riveraher daughter, Lisa Mordentethrew him “an amazing party in Manhattan” for his 90th birthday on January 30. “When I saw a celebratory banner with that big number on it, I was shivering,” the Broadway icon shared in an interview featured in AARP The MagazineApril/May 2023 issue.

Chita was born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in 1933 to a Puerto Rican father and a Scottish-Irish mother.

“I was raised Catholic and often said I had two angels – Chita and Dolores – one on each shoulder,” the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award winner continued. “Chita was the one people liked. Dolores would say it like it was.

Chita Rivera 90th birthday, reflects on 'big roles'
Larry Marano/Shutterstock

During her recent birthday celebration, she admitted that her “Chita side” had definitely come through.

“I let them keep the banner up,” she said. “But I don’t want to leave. The body may change, but the heart remains constant.

The talented artist has certainly had a career full of highs. Her journey to stardom began as a teenager when she attended one of the most renowned dance schools in the United States, the School of American Ballet. “One step, one bend, led to another – and, ultimately, to Broadway”, Dick Van Dyke’s New Show said alum.

Chita has landed a number of breakthrough roles on some of the Big Apple’s most iconic stages. In 1957, she was chosen for the role of Anita in West Side Story. The plot of the musical had a very deep and emotional impact on the community at the time.

“It was work, but it grew into something so much bigger, partly because this musical was ripped out of the headlines,” Chita said. “Someone had just been killed in a playground down the street – the article was pinned to a sign near the theater entrance. ‘It’s your life,’ I thought.

The singer also appeared in goodbye birdieby Bob Fosse Chicago, bring Birdie back And Merlin before winning her first Tony Award for her role in The rink next to Liza Minnell in 1984. Having made a number of unforgettable portraits throughout his 70 years as a performer, Chita could not imagine having a life any other way.

“I would be so selfish to have wanted other roles, because I had so many great ones: Anita, Velma in Chicagothe title role in Kiss of the Spider Womanshe mused, before adding jokingly: “I’m quite satisfied, but there are five Tonys who should have been mine!


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