Broadway star Chita Rivera dies at 91

Broadway star Chita Rivera dies at 91
Chita Rivera attends The 2018 Chita Rivera Awards at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on May 20, 2018 in New York City.Getty Images

One of Broadway’s most celebrated stars, Chita Rivera, has died at the age of 91, her daughter said in a statement.

Daughter Lisa Mordente said Rivera died peacefully in New York from a brief illness.

The Tony-award winning entertainer is known for her successful theatre career spanning nearly seven decades.

Some of her most notable roles include Anita in West Side Story and Rose in Bye Bye Birdie.

Rivera was born in 1933 in Washington DC to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Scottish and Irish heritage.

She began her Broadway career in the 1950s, landing roles in productions like Can-Can and Mr Wonderful.

In 1957, she was part of the original West Side Story cast where she played the role of Anita – a performance that paved her way to Broadway stardom.

Soon after, Rivera was nominated for a Tony Award her portrayal of Rose in the musical Bye Bye Birdie alongside Dick Van Dyke. A few decades later, she starred in another iconic role: vaudeville performer Velma Kelly in Chicago.

She is celebrated for being a “triple-threat” – singing, dancing and acting in numerous Broadway hits throughout the years, as well as being a trailblazer for Latina women.

In 2018, Rivera was given a lifetime Tony award. She is also a recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US, given to her by former President Barack Obama.


By David Ryckman