Chita Rivera: A Broadway Pioneer Remembered

Michael Wynne
 | January 30, 2024

Puerto Rican Star Chita Rivera, the Broadway legend known for her roles in “Chicago” and “West Side Story,” among others, died today, at age 91.

The trailblazer in the entertainment industry garnered 10 Tony nominations and won twice. And she was also the first Hispanic woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honor.

Born on January 23, 1933, in Washington, D.C., her contributions to the world of theater and entertainment will be remembered for years to come.

The Life & Legacy of Chita Rivera

Rivera is considered “a singer and dancer from Broadway’s Golden Age.” Fans and peers alike admired her smooth footwork, with many referring to her as having the “fastest feet on Broadway.”

She stood as a true pioneer on Broadway, having been a memorable part of some of its biggest debuts in history: “Chicago.”

“She was already in her 40s when she when she co-starred with another broadway star in the original cast of Bob Fossi’s ‘Chicago,’” the CBS Sunday Morning show explained in a 2013 segment.

Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero Montestuco Florentino Carnemacaral del Fuente, Rivera was probably best known for playing Anita in the Broadway version of “West Side Story.”

“I am the original, I was there at the first flicker of the skirt!” Rivera once said about her iconic role in “West Side Story.”

She starred on Broadway for over six decades.

“At 70, she delivered a slinky tango with Antonio Banderas in a 2003 Broadway revival of the Maury Yeston musical ‘Nine,” The Washington Post writes. “At that time, she was still said to possess some of the fastest legs in the business, even as she took flying splits and backflips out of her repertoire. It was a minor accommodation in a seemingly inexhaustible career.”

The cause of her death has not been disclosed yet.

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Featured image is from the image Hoja Suelta, by José Guadalupe Posada, 1901.
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