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Rita Moreno: A Memoir

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In this luminous memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend--and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys. Born Rosita Dolores Alverio in the idyll of Puerto Rico, Moreno, at age five, embarked on a harrowing sea voyage with her mother and In this luminous memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend--and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys. Born Rosita Dolores Alverio in the idyll of Puerto Rico, Moreno, at age five, embarked on a harrowing sea voyage with her mother and wound up in the harsh barrios of the Bronx, where she discovered dancing, singing, and acting as ways to escape a tumultuous childhood. Making her Broadway debut by age thirteen--and moving on to Hollywood in its Golden Age just a few years later--she worked alongside such stars as Gary Cooper, Yul Brynner, and Ann Miller. When discovered by Louis B. Mayer of MGM, the wizard himself declared: "She looks like a Spanish Elizabeth Taylor." Cast by Gene Kelly as Zelda Zanders in Singin' in the Rain and then on to her Oscar-winning performance in West Side Story, she catapulted to fame--yet found herself repeatedly typecast as the "utility ethnic," a role she found almost impossible to elude. Here, for the first time, Rita reflects on her struggles to break through Hollywood's racial and sexual barriers. She explores the wounded little girl behind the glamorous facade--and what it took to find her place in the world. She talks candidly about her relationship with Elvis Presley, her encounters with Howard Hughes, and the passionate romance with Marlon Brando that drove her to attempt suicide. And she shares the illusiveness of a "perfect" marriage and the incomparable joys of motherhood. Infused with Rita Moreno's quick wit and deep insight, this memoir is the dazzling portrait of a stage and screen star who longed to become who she really is--and triumphed.


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In this luminous memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend--and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys. Born Rosita Dolores Alverio in the idyll of Puerto Rico, Moreno, at age five, embarked on a harrowing sea voyage with her mother and In this luminous memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend--and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys. Born Rosita Dolores Alverio in the idyll of Puerto Rico, Moreno, at age five, embarked on a harrowing sea voyage with her mother and wound up in the harsh barrios of the Bronx, where she discovered dancing, singing, and acting as ways to escape a tumultuous childhood. Making her Broadway debut by age thirteen--and moving on to Hollywood in its Golden Age just a few years later--she worked alongside such stars as Gary Cooper, Yul Brynner, and Ann Miller. When discovered by Louis B. Mayer of MGM, the wizard himself declared: "She looks like a Spanish Elizabeth Taylor." Cast by Gene Kelly as Zelda Zanders in Singin' in the Rain and then on to her Oscar-winning performance in West Side Story, she catapulted to fame--yet found herself repeatedly typecast as the "utility ethnic," a role she found almost impossible to elude. Here, for the first time, Rita reflects on her struggles to break through Hollywood's racial and sexual barriers. She explores the wounded little girl behind the glamorous facade--and what it took to find her place in the world. She talks candidly about her relationship with Elvis Presley, her encounters with Howard Hughes, and the passionate romance with Marlon Brando that drove her to attempt suicide. And she shares the illusiveness of a "perfect" marriage and the incomparable joys of motherhood. Infused with Rita Moreno's quick wit and deep insight, this memoir is the dazzling portrait of a stage and screen star who longed to become who she really is--and triumphed.

30 review for Rita Moreno: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne (The Novel Sanctuary)

    Honest and beautiful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    Moreno’s candid autobiography details the evolution of Rosita Alverio, a starstruck girl from Puerto Rico, into Rita Moreno, the award-winning actress and star of classic films such as West Side Story, Singin’ in the Rain and Carnal Knowledge. Throughout the book Moreno contrasts the soaring triumphs of a career (where she earned every major performing accolade) with painful personal tragedies that nearly ended her remarkable life. Rita Moreno stands as the archetype of success within the enterta Moreno’s candid autobiography details the evolution of Rosita Alverio, a starstruck girl from Puerto Rico, into Rita Moreno, the award-winning actress and star of classic films such as West Side Story, Singin’ in the Rain and Carnal Knowledge. Throughout the book Moreno contrasts the soaring triumphs of a career (where she earned every major performing accolade) with painful personal tragedies that nearly ended her remarkable life. Rita Moreno stands as the archetype of success within the entertainment industry. She has been a working actress for over sixty years and conquered every medium in the entertainment industry, with awards to prove it. Despite this very public success, Moreno’s life has remained obscured because she never led a tabloid-friendly lifestyle. She provides glimpses into her life and work, revealing a woman of substance who has suffered many personal trials that were not publicly known. Much of the book confronts the challenges of being a woman of color working in Hollywood. Moreno is the third individual to win competitive Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Emmy Awards. Upon her arrival in 1950s' Hollywood she attempted to market herself as the next Elizabeth Taylor, but her Puerto Rican heritage effectively caused movie executives to cast her in stereotypical roles: Latina spitfire or an exotic ethnic. She never felt comfortable with these roles, but accepted them in order to support her family. Despite this ongoing challenge, Moreno was able to find work that allowed her artistry to flourish, validating her talent and establishing her credentials as a serious actress. Moreno shares vivid stories about her experiences during some well-known productions, including her Academy Award winning tole as Anita in West Side Story. While she avoids outright gossip, she shares recollections about her working relationships with legendary figures like Jerome Robbins, Mike Nichols, Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly. She also incorporates humorous fare and amusing anecdotes including the fact that the outrageous role of Googie Gomez (a character in the play The Ritz) resulted from a joke she acted out for playwright Terrence McNally at a party. And she won a Tony for the role. Perhaps the most surprising admission in the book concerns a tortuous affair with Marlon Brando that nearly killed her. Moreno met Brando in the 1950s and eventually succumbed to his charms, acknowledging that he was the first true love of her life. Brando had genuine affection for her, yet chose to string her along for more than a decade and reveled in making her jealous. In an act of revenge, she attempted to make Brando jealous by dating another man, Elvis Presley! The affair reached a tipping point in the early 1960s when Moreno realized she was pregnant, and Brando insisted she terminate the pregnancy. The most substantive aspect of the book is the emphasis Moreno places on finding her own voice. After wading through years of personal angst and insecurity regarding relationships and work, she was able to settle into a life where she was finally secure. Moreno found empowerment through political activism, broadening her work options through stage and television, as well as building a family with a man to whom she would be married for nearly 50 years. The book serves as a testament to the remarkable, strength, courage and wisdom of Rita Moreno, both the actress and the woman. Reviewed by Nicholas Beyelia, Librarian

  3. 4 out of 5

    KOMET

    A few minutes ago (it is now 6:16 PM EST August 16, 2018 as I write this), I finished reading this candid and compelling memoir of a most remarkable woman. Rita Moreno I had known about first-hand since the 1970s, from having seen her on the TV shows 'The Electric Company' and 'The Rockford Files.' She struck me then as a cool, attractive woman who was sure of herself and had class. Aside from that, I never gave much thought to Rita Moreno the person beyond the TV studio, movie set, and stage. B A few minutes ago (it is now 6:16 PM EST August 16, 2018 as I write this), I finished reading this candid and compelling memoir of a most remarkable woman. Rita Moreno I had known about first-hand since the 1970s, from having seen her on the TV shows 'The Electric Company' and 'The Rockford Files.' She struck me then as a cool, attractive woman who was sure of herself and had class. Aside from that, I never gave much thought to Rita Moreno the person beyond the TV studio, movie set, and stage. But in reading 'RITA MORENO: A Memoir', I was able to look into the life of someone who wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She had to fight for everything she got. That strength came from her mother who brought her at the age of 5 to New York from Puerto Rico (which she describes in such rich and colorful detail from her childhood memories) to make a new life for them both. Rita's father had abandoned them sometime earlier. They lived for a time in a shared apartment in the Bronx. Her mother took on odd jobs such as cleaning the homes of white families, saving up money til she was able to move both herself and daughter Rita into their own apartment in Manhattan. Rita was a very spirited, energetic little girl and one of her relatives in New York suggested to her mother that she get dancing lessons for Rita. (Her teacher was Paco Cansino, who was "not only a Spanish dance teacher; he was the ultimate Spanish dance teacher. He was the teacher and uncle of Rita Hayworth.") This marked the beginning of what would be an almost 70 year career full of fantastic highs (such as Rita Moreno winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Anita in "West Side Story") and frustrating lows. Rita Moreno is one of the few surviving actresses today who started out in the era of the studio system in Hollywood. She first worked for MGM (where she had a small role with Gene Kelly in the musical "Singing in the Rain") before going on to work at 20th Century Fox. There is so much more to Rita Moreno than meets the eye. That's why I would encourage the reader of this review to take some time and read deeply into the life of a person who traveled quite a journey through life, worked with some of the most famous and distinguished figures in the world of cinema and stage, had a loving family, and managed to stay true to herself all the while.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Bunting

    To start with, I am mildly obsessed with Rita Moreno. Everything she’s in, I’ve loved her performance and find her to be an enigmatic performer. Still, I have not sought out everything she’s done (there’s a lot). Prior to this past month, I couldn’t even pick her out of a lineup and totally didn’t recognize her as Rogelio’s mother in Jane the Virgin. I wanted to pick this up a couple years ago but just got around to the audiobook. I loved this. It was raw and honest and details a life that was t To start with, I am mildly obsessed with Rita Moreno. Everything she’s in, I’ve loved her performance and find her to be an enigmatic performer. Still, I have not sought out everything she’s done (there’s a lot). Prior to this past month, I couldn’t even pick her out of a lineup and totally didn’t recognize her as Rogelio’s mother in Jane the Virgin. I wanted to pick this up a couple years ago but just got around to the audiobook. I loved this. It was raw and honest and details a life that was truly amazing. I especially appreciated how honest she was on her 45-yearlong marriage and how she was willing to be vulnerable. I loved her performance of the narration, even getting choked up at certain parts. She even GIGGLES. The memoir was structured chronologically which is great for someone as anal as myself. This was the perfect celebrity memoir and should be held up as a model for how it should be done. SIDE NOTE: It has to be said: I can’t think about her and Marlon Brando having a sexual relationship for too long or I might spontaneously combust.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine (Queen of Books)

    This book was a treat to read. Listened to the audiobook, which she read - it felt like she was sitting across the table from me, telling me about Puerto Rico, the parts she was asked to play, Marlon Brando... Just, well, things in her life and how she felt about them. I didn't know much about Rita Moreno going in, beyond really that she's Puerto Rican and won an EGOT. And of course, I knew that she was the fabulous Anita in the film adaptation West Side Story. Definitely a book I'd recommend whe This book was a treat to read. Listened to the audiobook, which she read - it felt like she was sitting across the table from me, telling me about Puerto Rico, the parts she was asked to play, Marlon Brando... Just, well, things in her life and how she felt about them. I didn't know much about Rita Moreno going in, beyond really that she's Puerto Rican and won an EGOT. And of course, I knew that she was the fabulous Anita in the film adaptation West Side Story. Definitely a book I'd recommend whether you're a fan or not. Content warnings: (view spoiler)[Rape, generally lecherous behavior, racism, suicide attempt, illegal rape, reference of people being beaten and killed during protests, a couple comments that felt like fat shaming (hide spoiler)]

  6. 4 out of 5

    JoAnne Pulcino

    RITA MORENO A MEMOIR Rita Moreno The wonderful journey of a young girl from Puerto Rico brought to New York who became an actress, a dancer, a singer and an outspoken advocate for great causes. She is one of few performers who has won all four acclaimed awards in the entertainment industry. She is the proud winner of the OSCAR, the EMMY, the TONY and the GRAMMY. It is the story of her early start in show business at age fourteen as a dancer who rises to the top of her field. Her triumphs, her chall RITA MORENO A MEMOIR Rita Moreno The wonderful journey of a young girl from Puerto Rico brought to New York who became an actress, a dancer, a singer and an outspoken advocate for great causes. She is one of few performers who has won all four acclaimed awards in the entertainment industry. She is the proud winner of the OSCAR, the EMMY, the TONY and the GRAMMY. It is the story of her early start in show business at age fourteen as a dancer who rises to the top of her field. Her triumphs, her challenges and her doubts are well covered in the book. Her obsession with Marlon Brando and her long marriage to her doctor husband become an integral part of the book written by a woman who has an outspoken and interesting voice.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Jackson

    My experiences with Rita Moreno were limited to The Electric Company and West Side Story prior to reading this book. I knew nothing about her fantastic screen career or love affairs. I enjoyed hearing her tell her own story on audio and I respect her honesty. A bio with no sugar coating!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leilani

    A quick, easy read that I found hard to put down due to its glimpses of vintage Hollywood glamour and what it felt like to play "the ethnic type" for so many years. As with most star bios, you get the stories of misbehaving costars and fun anecdotes along the way, but I wish she had said more about the making of West Side Story - it was done in a flash. Still, her stories were mostly interesting and surprisingly frank. Also, a little more editing might have helped - I spent most of the book wonde A quick, easy read that I found hard to put down due to its glimpses of vintage Hollywood glamour and what it felt like to play "the ethnic type" for so many years. As with most star bios, you get the stories of misbehaving costars and fun anecdotes along the way, but I wish she had said more about the making of West Side Story - it was done in a flash. Still, her stories were mostly interesting and surprisingly frank. Also, a little more editing might have helped - I spent most of the book wondering why she never even tried to find her younger brother once she was an adult, only to find in a stray sentence toward the end that she did try, unsuccessfully.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Full Review at Foil the Plot Most of us probably know of Rita Moreno from her role as Anita in West Side Story. Her trademark? Being the Latina "spitfire." She's the "Hispanic Elizabeth Taylor." If you know anything else about her, it's probably that she's the first Hispanic woman to win the Oscar. Or more notably, that she's one of the only performers to EVER receive an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony and an Emmy. Well, now she can add best-selling author to that ever-growing list of talents. In her se Full Review at Foil the Plot Most of us probably know of Rita Moreno from her role as Anita in West Side Story. Her trademark? Being the Latina "spitfire." She's the "Hispanic Elizabeth Taylor." If you know anything else about her, it's probably that she's the first Hispanic woman to win the Oscar. Or more notably, that she's one of the only performers to EVER receive an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony and an Emmy. Well, now she can add best-selling author to that ever-growing list of talents. In her self-titled memoir, Moreno opens up about life on and off the screen, touching on family, love, loss and her tumultuous rise to fame. Quintessentially, she's the all-American dream. Moreno's story is broken down into four parts, each one chronicling her evolution from humble little Rosita Dolores Alverio from Juncos into the sizzling songstress/screen siren, Rita Moreno. It's a tumultuous journey of insecurity, doubt, passion and self-discovery told in the most raw and honest of ways. In it, she describes the lush landscape of her native Puerto Rico, her struggle to break on to the Hollywood scene and her harrowing and debilitating relationship with bad boy, Marlon Brando. On the surface, Moreno's life seems so perfect but underneath it all it's one built atop broken promises --- by her mother and father, by Hollywood and by many lovers --- the strength she pulls from all these experiences though, that's what makes this book such an incredible one to read. Her story is as captivating as she herself is on screen. You can really get a feel for Moreno's personality solely by looking at the way she tells her story --- it's exotic, wild, imaginative, vivid and rich with detail. As a reader, I became keenly aware of all of my senses and was atune to the world in an entirely new way. It's particularly evident in the first part where she relives her childhood. Moreno speaks of it as though she's still that child. You view the world through her young eyes and get to experience that sense of wonder and magic and blissful unawareness that comes with being an innocent, little kid. This book is packed with insight as Rita recounts her rise to fame and her experiences on the silver screen. I loved how she reviews her past performances in a more objective way. It's interesting to see what she's most critical about and what of those early performances she can really appreciate. Also, the black/white photographs don't hurt either! Rita goes into detail on how much the film industry has changed since the 50's and 60's. Back then, stereotyping was common practice and she was viewed as the "universal ethnic girl." She's worked hard to break way from the trade-marked Latina "spit-fire" image that was portrayed of her, instead vying for roles that cast her as a genuine, realistic person. I was really excited to read about her time on the West Side Story set, but much to my dismay, this chapter of her life is somewhat glossed over. What I did love was how Moreno touches on fond and not-so-fond memories of the more well-known contemporaries of her time (Gene Kelly, Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood, Elvis --- to name a few) which acts as a tribute to them, in a way. Ultimately though, this book isn't about Hollywood, it's about her and appropriately so. Each intricate detail and every little story chronicles some important facet of her amazing life and incredible journey. One of the most evident things she talks about are the hardships she's endured. The issues in her working life are nothing compared to the ones she endures in her love life though. Her tumultuous relationship with Marlon Brando coupled with constant abuse led her to attempt suicide, but it's her inner strength and determination that pulls her through it. And this is why she's so admirable. She's got the fortitude and gusto to walk away having learned something. Moreno's journey is a tragic one, but unlike many of the Hollywood greats, hers has a happier ending than the Judy Garland's and Mario Lanza's of her day. Rita is a woman who did what she had to do to survive and become successful. She's a woman who never loses sight of the end goal. She is admirable and brave. In the end, Moreno is shaped less by the characters she played and more by the experiences behind them. Moreno is a multi-faceted woman --- she's strong, passionate, vivacious, demure and incredibly self-concious. Despite wearing a tough and sexy visage, like many of her contemporaries, she's more than just another pretty face. This book is her personal narrative on how she conqured the world and, if anything, it's one of the most authentic books I've ever read. She's had quite the journey and even though it wasn't alwasy the easiest, it was certainly an incredible one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    Maybe I am still being affected from when I met Rita Moreno on March 6th and got her autograph at a bookstore... Or it could be I have idolized since I saw her as Anita on West Side Story. I was mesmorized by her performance. Maria who? Either way, I really enjoyed her memoir. It was short, my only complaint really, simple and to the point. It wasn't a salacious tell-all and it wasn't supposed to be. That would have cheapen her story. I felt like it was a love song or an ode to the places and peopl Maybe I am still being affected from when I met Rita Moreno on March 6th and got her autograph at a bookstore... Or it could be I have idolized since I saw her as Anita on West Side Story. I was mesmorized by her performance. Maria who? Either way, I really enjoyed her memoir. It was short, my only complaint really, simple and to the point. It wasn't a salacious tell-all and it wasn't supposed to be. That would have cheapen her story. I felt like it was a love song or an ode to the places and people who cared, loved or shaped Rita Moreno to who she is. Juncos, where she spent the first five years of her life, her Mami, Marlon Brando, I cannot believe Anita and Jor-El got in on!, her husband of nearly half a century, Lenny. It felt like Rita Moreno was talking to me about me. It was that organic.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    Wonderful memoir. Rita Moreno's account of life Puerto Rico and NYC is so spot on. An excellent actress! I specially enjoyed reading about her mother and her marriage. "One of the few things that I disdained while filming the movie (West Side Story) was the makeup used to paint Puerto Ricans the same color. We Sharks were all the same homogeneous brown! Our gang, including me, was a uniform tobacco brown color, and that was just plain wrong and inaccurate. Puerto Ricans, with their varied geneti Wonderful memoir. Rita Moreno's account of life Puerto Rico and NYC is so spot on. An excellent actress! I specially enjoyed reading about her mother and her marriage. "One of the few things that I disdained while filming the movie (West Side Story) was the makeup used to paint Puerto Ricans the same color. We Sharks were all the same homogeneous brown! Our gang, including me, was a uniform tobacco brown color, and that was just plain wrong and inaccurate. Puerto Ricans, with their varied genetic ancestry - Spanish, Taino Indian, Black, Dutch - are born with a broad palette of skin colors, from outright white to true black".

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    CW for suicide attempt, botched abortion, and abusive relationships. This was so. damn. good. Listen to the audio and let Moreno's gentle, warm voice wash over you. Her emotional depth, her self-reflection, her wit and humor - they all shine through so clearly in this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Micaela

    Rita Moreno's dramatic life has had more twists and turns than I ever knew. A strong yet vulnerable woman who can dish the old school Hollywood dirt with the best of them, yet she does it with respect. Her journey to America as a child was harrowing, her rise to fame was a bumpy road, yet she persevered and succeeded. The stories of her relationships with Brando and her husband Lenny was told with appreciable candor. Cheers to Rosita (Rita), a fascinating and incredible woman!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cdubbub

    I listened to this as an audio book & I very much enjoyed having Ms. Moreno's own voice telling her story. It was great when it came to her stories of life in Puerto Rico, early days in New York and behind the scenes talk of West Side Story and her countless other roles. I did find it a bit distracting when she had paragraph upon paragraph of Wikipedia-esque info about her costars and paramours. I wanted to know about Rita, not everybody else! All in all, an enjoyable read/listen I listened to this as an audio book & I very much enjoyed having Ms. Moreno's own voice telling her story. It was great when it came to her stories of life in Puerto Rico, early days in New York and behind the scenes talk of West Side Story and her countless other roles. I did find it a bit distracting when she had paragraph upon paragraph of Wikipedia-esque info about her costars and paramours. I wanted to know about Rita, not everybody else! All in all, an enjoyable read/listen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marisa Gonzalez

    Rita Moreno's memoir...it is a great one! She tells her story of childhood in Puerto Rico, moving to "Nueva York" and her rise to fame and success. Reading this book was like sitting down and having a conversation with her. I loved its honesty, its ups and downs and its humor. I highly recommend this book for young Latinas. It is very inspirational. A truly classy lady!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Rita Moreno's life is more than interesting. She's a smart, funny, thoughtful woman who came to Hollywood via small roles, and later conquered Broadway and television. Her stories about Marlon Brando and other lovers are romantic, truthful. Well worth a read for a casual fan or someone like myself who's always loved Moreno's work in any medium.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Willo Font

    Unexpected , fast read, enjoyed every page of it. To top it all just a few weeks ago she got the Screen Actors Guild Award for Lifetime achievment. 82 ans still kicking. Thanks , we need more of you.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cosima

    4.5 stars for me! I absolutely loved this book on a deeply personal level. It felt like a family member telling beautiful stories in all honesty, not sparing the gory details. I connected with the themes of race, gender, feminism, culture and Caribbean family dynamic. ¡Gracias, Maestra Moreno!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ladynikiw

    Great memoir of Rita’s life. Her early life, the movies and the men. Marlon Brando was a piece of shit to her but when he died this is said to be the only photo he had in his house. Great memoir of Rita’s life. Her early life, the movies and the men. Marlon Brando was a piece of shit to her but when he died this is said to be the only photo he had in his house.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    Oh how I adore Rita Moreno. Her memoir was so honest and inspiring. She is a true pioneer and has paved the way for many aspiring Latino entertainers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tina Peak

    Loved this book. I listened to it in audiobook format. Ms. Moreno's narration was wonderful. Brought the book to life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Rita Moreno: A Memoir is an autobiography written by Rita Moreno. It is a wonderful, authoritative memoir of Moreno's career throughout her seventy years in Hollywood. Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer. Her career has spanned over seventy years and among her notable acting work are supporting roles in the musical films The King and I and West Side Story, as well as a 1971–77 stint on the children's television series The Electric Company, and a supporting role on the 1997–20 Rita Moreno: A Memoir is an autobiography written by Rita Moreno. It is a wonderful, authoritative memoir of Moreno's career throughout her seventy years in Hollywood. Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer. Her career has spanned over seventy years and among her notable acting work are supporting roles in the musical films The King and I and West Side Story, as well as a 1971–77 stint on the children's television series The Electric Company, and a supporting role on the 1997–2003 TV drama Oz. Moreno shares her life story in this candid memoir spanning her unceremonious childhood arrival from Puerto Rico to her decades-long career in show business. Born Rosita Alverio in Juncos, Puerto, she gets a rude awakening when in 1936 her single mother moves her to New York City. She would eventually find a passion for singing and dancing while her mother looks for a new husband. Soon, Hollywood knocks on her door and she gives the "Old Hollywood" studio system a long, honest look: she receives her stage name from a studio executive, she is regularly sent out on arranged "dates" with young actors, is made to attend a "troll-and-starlet" mixer with studio funders, and romances several celebrities of her time. In an era when actresses were rampantly pretending to be ethnicities they were obviously not, Moreno is cast again and again as the hot Latin spitfire when she was a reliable, hardworking actor always in search of a better part. There is no question that Moreno's career wound its way through an interesting era Rita Moreno: A Memoir is written rather well. The memoir is a capably composed and an entertaining read for anyone with a pre-existing interest in Moreno or 1950s Hollywood. All in all, Rita Moreno: A Memoir is a well written memoir with an interesting look of 1950s Hollywood through the eyes of a minority that is Rita Moreno.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I generally don't have very high expectations of memoirs like these, but Rita Moreno is just so irresistible, I was really looking forward to reading it nonetheless. And I have to say it didn't disappoint. It didn't go very deep and it wasn't very long, but the voice felt authentic and personal. Moreno chronicles her life from her early childhood in Puerto Rico and the shock of moving from the warm colorful island of Puerto Rico to the much colder (in temperature and in feeling) island of Manhat I generally don't have very high expectations of memoirs like these, but Rita Moreno is just so irresistible, I was really looking forward to reading it nonetheless. And I have to say it didn't disappoint. It didn't go very deep and it wasn't very long, but the voice felt authentic and personal. Moreno chronicles her life from her early childhood in Puerto Rico and the shock of moving from the warm colorful island of Puerto Rico to the much colder (in temperature and in feeling) island of Manhattan in the greyness of winter, through her childhood performance career, to Broadway, Hollywood, and TV up to and including her role on the TV show Oz in the early 2000s. It's an admittedly lightweight but pleasant and interesting read, which never gets too, too gossipy, yet still sometimes goes a bit further below the surface than one might expect. Moreno shares some insights into some of her personal relationships, most notably with Marlon Brando, a tempestuous and passionate relationship that evidently left a resonant impact on both of their lives. And she also speaks candidly about her distaste for the "Latin spitfire" and fill-in-the-blank-other-ethnicity bit roles that made up such a large part of her early career, in particular, which she had little choice but to take if she wanted to work. It has been wonderful to see that in her later years she continues to get roles with substance, such as her character in Oz, as well as roles that allow her to bring her comedic and performance talents to characters that lovingly celebrate Latino culture, such as those in Jane the Virgin and the reboot of One Day at a Time. While the book lacks in substance, it also doesn't aspire to be more than a personal reflection on an impressive life, and in that, it succeeds. 3.5 stars rounded up because, hey, it's Rita Moreno, and she's an EGOT!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mariella

    I love her and I love her more. Talk about a hustler.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rosa Burgos

    I loved this book! Wish I could give it more stars. Proud to be Puerto Rican. Rita is truly a treasure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    V. Briceland

    In her memoir, multiple award-winning performer Rita Moreno shares a story about spending a weekend at a wealthy party in the Hamptons, early in her career. Invited as arm candy along with Ann Miller, another studio stalwart who was attempting to make a name for herself, the pair gleefully proceed to neglect their duties as showcase Hollywood glamor girls, knock back a few drinks, and then mischievously traipse from bathroom to bathroom in the mansion, so that they can peek in all of the host's In her memoir, multiple award-winning performer Rita Moreno shares a story about spending a weekend at a wealthy party in the Hamptons, early in her career. Invited as arm candy along with Ann Miller, another studio stalwart who was attempting to make a name for herself, the pair gleefully proceed to neglect their duties as showcase Hollywood glamor girls, knock back a few drinks, and then mischievously traipse from bathroom to bathroom in the mansion, so that they can peek in all of the host's medicine cabinets. Reading Rita Moreno: A Memoir is a little bit like opening up a few medicine cabinets in the actor's own home. Behind some doors are deliciously dishy stories, like the Miller escapade. Behind others, there are glimpses at genuine heartache, such as Moreno's forced separation from much of her family when her mother chose to flee from Puerto Rico to the Bronx, or the actor's messy romance with Marlon Brando. Moreno and her co-writer, Laura Shaine Cunningham, do a serviceable job of conveying how much sheer work, effort, and luck it takes to hammer out a career as enduring as Moreno's has turned out to be, and manage to do so by finding just the right anecdote for the occasion. Still, Cunningham does Moreno a disservice in the early chapters on life in Puerto Rico, which are heavily laden with awkward, florid, purple prose. It's a relief when finally Moreno's career starts and the pair settle into a more workmanlike style.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    My connection to Rita goes back more than fifty years. I loved Rita Moreno as enslaved TupTim in The King and I. But my favorite performance of Rita’s was on the enormous screen at a downtown Cleveland movie theatre, where my reserved seat ticket for WSS put me in the first row of the balcony. It was Chakiris with whom I corresponded (actually his Greek immigrant father who was a delightful responder) but was thrilled that the Rita/Anita role received an Oscar, too. Rita doesn’t hide anything, in My connection to Rita goes back more than fifty years. I loved Rita Moreno as enslaved TupTim in The King and I. But my favorite performance of Rita’s was on the enormous screen at a downtown Cleveland movie theatre, where my reserved seat ticket for WSS put me in the first row of the balcony. It was Chakiris with whom I corresponded (actually his Greek immigrant father who was a delightful responder) but was thrilled that the Rita/Anita role received an Oscar, too. Rita doesn’t hide anything, in performing nor in her memoir. When I saw her perform at the Front Row she impressed everyone with her confession to be “under the weather” that evening. She couldn't disappoint her audience and a terrific show went on. I have loved listening to her reading “A Memoir”, spending my free and busy time listening to Rita tell me her life story. What a candid, inspiring autobiography with deep insight and humanity. Nothing false in her storytelling and appreciation for the special fortunes and people who populated her story. I loved the Ann Miller/Palm Beach anecdote and so many of the trials that she tackled with the optimism of a typical Sagittarian (takes one to know one).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I've always enjoyed Rita Moreno's performances whenever and wherever I've seen them. I especially loved her wacky and often over-the-top work in the original incarnation of The Electric Company, a children's reading show on PBS. I'd known her as one of the few people to win all the major performance awards: Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy. I'd seen her on talk shows, or speaking for political causes, but, oh boy, I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes! In this book, Ms. Moreno reveals al I've always enjoyed Rita Moreno's performances whenever and wherever I've seen them. I especially loved her wacky and often over-the-top work in the original incarnation of The Electric Company, a children's reading show on PBS. I'd known her as one of the few people to win all the major performance awards: Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy. I'd seen her on talk shows, or speaking for political causes, but, oh boy, I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes! In this book, Ms. Moreno reveals all, in great (and for me, often unwanted) detail. It is quite a story, at times deeply tragic. The writing is not very good, but Ms. Moreno is not a professional writer. And, as is usual in autobiographies, especially show business ones, there is lots of navel gazing, which can cloy after a while. Still, I enjoyed much of it and am glad I picked this one up.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Douglas

    I've gotten out of the habit lately of posting what I'm reading, because it's all in Spanish so I feel like I should review it in Spanish. Yep, should do that. Only, while I'm waiting around to have time to write a coherent book review in Spanish, I think I need to start at least keeping a record of what I'm reading. So, I read this, and it was pretty interesting. I've always thought Moreno was an excellent actress and singer, so it was interesting to read about her past. The parts about her chil I've gotten out of the habit lately of posting what I'm reading, because it's all in Spanish so I feel like I should review it in Spanish. Yep, should do that. Only, while I'm waiting around to have time to write a coherent book review in Spanish, I think I need to start at least keeping a record of what I'm reading. So, I read this, and it was pretty interesting. I've always thought Moreno was an excellent actress and singer, so it was interesting to read about her past. The parts about her childhood, both in Puerto Rico and the slums of New York, were my favorites. But once she gets to the part of her life when she's in Hollywood, I feel she left some stuff out, and left some questions unanswered. Anyway, I may write a real review of this book some day. For now, I just want to remember having read it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marina Kahn

    This was such an enjoyable biography to read. I did not know that she is the first Latina to win an Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy and she belongs to the elite EGOT group; only 11 other individuals have won all 4 awards. It was nice to read about her childhood in Puerto Rico. She lived in a very small town; her mother was a seamstress and her father was a farmer so she had all kinds of pets. Her favorite was a little chicken that followed her everywhere. But her mom decided to move to NYC when Rit This was such an enjoyable biography to read. I did not know that she is the first Latina to win an Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy and she belongs to the elite EGOT group; only 11 other individuals have won all 4 awards. It was nice to read about her childhood in Puerto Rico. She lived in a very small town; her mother was a seamstress and her father was a farmer so she had all kinds of pets. Her favorite was a little chicken that followed her everywhere. But her mom decided to move to NYC when Rita was 6 which was tough. No matter what Rita persevered and her mom always supported her. Rita was taught dance by Rita Hayworth's uncle and later did the voice overs in Spanish for American films that were aired in Central and South America. She is still acting, singing and dancing. You go girl.

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