Beloved Broadway Star Chita Rivera Passes Away at 91

New York – Chita Rivera, the iconic Broadway star known for her legendary performances in musicals such as “West Side Story,” “Chicago,” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” passed away today in New York at the age of 91 after a brief illness. The news of her death was confirmed by her daughter, Lisa Mordente, who said that Rivera died peacefully.

Rivera, one of the most celebrated performers in Tony Award history, garnered 10 nominations and won twice during her illustrious career. She was also honored with the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Rivera rose to fame for her role as Anita in the original Broadway production of “West Side Story” in 1957, a role she also portrayed in London.

In addition to her iconic portrayal in “West Side Story,” Rivera had several other career highlights. She starred in acclaimed productions such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Jerry’s Girls,” and the original Broadway casts of “Guys and Dolls,” “Can-Can,” “Seventh Heaven,” and “Mr. Wonderful.” Rivera also showcased her talent in touring productions of various shows, including “Born Yesterday,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Call Me Madam,” “Threepenny Opera,” “Sweet Charity,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Zorba,” and “Can-Can with The Rockettes.”

Her more recent roles included “The Visit,” the final musical by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally, directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele. She also appeared in the Broadway revival of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” the Broadway and touring productions of “The Dancer’s Life,” and the revival of the musical “Nine” alongside Antonio Banderas.

Born as Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in Washington, DC, Rivera showed great promise as a ballerina from a young age. She received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from renowned choreographer George Balanchine. At the age of 19, Rivera made her debut as a principal dancer in “Call Me Madam.”

Throughout her career, Rivera received numerous prestigious honors and awards. She was presented with The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and received the esteemed Kennedy Center Honor. Rivera also held sold-out solo concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Cadogan Hall.

Rivera’s extraordinary life and career were celebrated in the Great Performances special “Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do,” which aired on PBS. She was also recognized as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Additionally, Rivera published a highly acclaimed memoir titled “Chita: A Memoir” in 2020.

The legacy of Chita Rivera will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of performers, as her contributions to the world of theater will never be forgotten.