Rita Moreno directs her iconic energy at Sunset Center in Carmel.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The year was 1977 and the multi-talented Rita Moreno had a guest spot on The Muppet Show. She sang the sultry and jazzy “Fever,” backed on the drums by Animal. After the fluffy red puppet adds in a couple raucous off-beats – tweaking Moreno’s rhythm – a scuffle begins. The Puerto Rican native approaches Animal, gets in his face and starts shouting at him in Spanish, before saying, “Cool it,” in English. The end result is an entertaining and comedic back-and-forth that earned Moreno an Emmy.
It’s an amazing feat to win an Emmy – an accomplishment only amplified by the fact that her supporting actor was a puppet. It’s rarer still to also win an Oscar, Grammy and Tony Award, particularly as a Hispanic woman.
Moreno made her name breaking through ethnic stereotypes during the Golden Age of movie musicals.
“It is important that people understand that there were many indignities that I went through simply because I’m Latina,” she once said.
Fortunately those indignities just made her stronger. She’s appeared in more than 30 different television series and been in more than 60 films – most notably as the fierce friend of Maria in West Side Story – over the span of an illustrious 60-year career. Her Broadway performances have been famously successful, as was her Grammy Award-winning recording for The Electric Company.
She continues adding to her resume with appearances on Ugly Betty, The George Lopez Show and Oz. Moreno also continues enchanting her audiences – at the nubile age of 79 – with her live touring performances, like the one she’s bringing to Sunset Center on Saturday. Her touring live show is a variety act showcasing her vast talents, done cabaret style with a healthy helping of comedic bantering with her back-up band.
Arguably the most important accolade of Moreno’s career, though, came recently, in 2009, when she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama, an honor light years away from the ugly indignities she once endured, and an honor very well-deserved.
RITA MORENO performs 8pm Saturday, Jan. 29, at Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel. $53-$78. 620-2048.