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Chita Rivera, legendary Broadway actress known for “West Side Story” and “Chicago,” has passed away at 91—rest in peace

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Broadway has lost one of its brightest stars, Chita Rivera, a renowned actress and dancer, at the age of 91. Her daughter, Lisa Mordente, confirmed that Rivera passed away peacefully.

Born in Washington DC on January 23, 1933, Rivera was the third child in a family of five. She began her journey in the arts with ballet training, which led her to a successful career on Broadway. Rivera graced the stage in original productions like “Guys & Dolls,” “Can-Can,” and “Mr. Wonderful.”

Chita Rivera, legendary Broadway actress known for "West Side Story" and "Chicago," has passed away at 91—rest in peace
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Her major breakthrough came with the 1957 musical “West Side Story,” where she played the role of Anita. This performance not only showcased her talent but also contributed significantly to Latina representation in Broadway productions.

Rivera’s star continued to rise as she played lead roles in other iconic musicals. She was Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie” in 1960 and Velma Kelly in “Chicago” in 1975, earning Tony Award nominations for both.

Chita Rivera, legendary Broadway actress known for "West Side Story" and "Chicago," has passed away at 91—rest in peace
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Despite a severe car accident in 1986 that shattered her left leg, Rivera’s passion and determination saw her return to Broadway, adapting to her physical limitations with grace and strength.

Her outstanding contributions were recognized with two Tony Awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for “The Rink” (1984) and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993). In 2018, she received a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Chita Rivera, legendary Broadway actress known for "West Side Story" and "Chicago," has passed away at 91—rest in peace
Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Rivera’s career spanned six decades, with later roles in “Nine,” “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life,” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Her last musical, “The Visit,” earned her another Tony nomination in 2015.

While Rivera was predominantly a stage performer, she also appeared in films like “Sweet Charity” and had cameos in various TV shows, including “The Judy Garland Show” and “Will & Grace.” In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the US.

Chita Rivera, legendary Broadway actress known for "West Side Story" and "Chicago," has passed away at 91—rest in peace
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Chita Rivera’s passing marks the end of an era for Broadway, but her legacy as a trailblazer and a symbol of perseverance will continue to inspire. Rest in peace, Chita Rivera, a true legend of the stage. Let’s remember and celebrate her remarkable life and contributions to the world of performing arts.