Chita Rivera is an American dancer, singer, and actress who has enjoyed a long successful career since the 1950’s. Globally, she is notable for her appearances on stage, small screen, and silver screen and many remember her performance in West Side Story(1957). But this is not the only source of her popularity, she has also acted in Kiss of the Spider Woman(1992) and Chicago(1992).
Unsurprisingly, she has garnered many awards and recognitions, including three Tony awards for her works as well as a presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to the theatre.
For a woman who has been around for this long, she had a short marriage with Tony Mordente. They got married in 1957 and divorced 9 years later. Together, they welcomed a daughter named Lisa Mordente.
Chita Rivera was Born and Raised in Washington D.C some Years Before World War II
She was born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero Anderson on January 23, 1933. Her parents, Pedro Julio Figueroa and Katherine Anderson del Rivero were of Puerto Rican descent.
Pedro was a musician who played the clarinet and saxophone in the United States Navy while her mother, Katherine worked as a clerk.
She grew up as one of five children. Notably, she lost her father when she was just 7 years old, and as a result, her mother went to work at the Pentagon to support the family. Looking at the time and the second world war that broke out, her mother was deeply involved with work at the Department of Defense.
Needless to say, her mother was able to have an influence over her (Chita) career from that age. She did this by enrolling her daughter at the Jones Hayward School of Ballet.
Chita was quite a stellar performer and through this, she won a scholarship to study at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet.
The Los Angeles Native has Been in the Entertainment Industry for Many Decades
Chita’s professional career started in 1951 when she accompanied a friend to the audition for Call Me Madam. She ended up winning a role and as they say, the rest became history.
Following this, she got small roles on Broadway in productions like Guys and Dolls, and Mr. Wonderful. She came to the limelight in 1957 when she was cast as Anita in the West End production of West Side Story.
Since then, her career continued to expand into other parts of entertainment including television, film, and music.
Throughout her career, she has performed with entertainers like Dick Van Dyke, Peter Marshall, and Antonio Banderas.
The Washington D.C Native is the Winner of Three Tony Awards
90-year-old Chita is indeed a force to reckon with when it comes to entertainment. To show for her being in the industry for over 7 decades, she has gained critical acclaim, awards, and recognition.
She has been nominated 10 times for the Tony Award and won three. With a record of ten nominations, it makes her one of the entertainers with the highest Tony Award nominations.
In 1983, she won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for The Rink(1984). In 1986, her role in Kiss of the Spider Woman earned her a Tony and Drama Desk.
Other notable awards and recognitions include;
- Being the First Latin American Woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honor(2002)
- Presidential Medal of Freedom(2009)
- Theatre World Award for Lifetime Achievement(2015)
- Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre(2018)
She Was Married To Tony Mordente for Less than a Decade
So far, Rivera has only been in one publicized marriage with none other than the dancer, Tony Mordente. A few slow steps into their relationship timeline show that they were only married for nine years before they decided to part ways.
Considering the chemistry they shared one can’t help but wonder about their love life. As it is, it started like many celebrity relationships when they met during the production of West Side Story.
Like Rivera, Tony was a dancer, and when they met, they had a chemistry. Eventually, they got married on December 1, 1957, at the Notre Dame Church in New Hyde Park.
During the marriage, they welcomed a daughter named Lisa who was born on July 30, 1958. Lisa’s birth led to the postponement of Chita’s opening of West Side Story.
Is Lisa Mordente Her Only Child?
So far, the only child that the talented entertainer has revealed is Lisa Mordente whom she had during her marriage with Tony. Based on this, we may not be wrong to say that Lisa is her only child. According to Rivera’s website, Lisa is her greatest production in life.
And the two have proven this time and time again in the closeness that they share. Looking at Chita’s social media updates, she shares moments with her precious daughter whether private or at public events.
On her part, Lisa has also shown great support for her mother’s career. She was around when her mother was honored at the Tony Center in 2018. Also, Lisa has shared the stage with her mother at different points in time.
This makes us curious to know whether Lisa is also an entertainer. It turns out that she is a stellar actress, singer, and dancer in her own right. She has performed on Broadway as well as on-screen. Lisa is notable for Platinum(1978), and Viva Valdez(1976).