Chita Rivera: A Puerto Rican Icon


Share post:

Chita Rivera is an iconic actress of Puerto Rican origin who is widely acclaimed as a pioneer and trailblazer in her community. Chita Rivera became well known through her skills in acting, singing, and dancing. In this post, we will find out more about Chita Rivera. Let’s get started.

Chita Rivera: All You Need To Know

When was Chita Rivera born?

Chita Rivera is the stage name of Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero Anderson. She was born on January 23, 1933, in Washington D.C., USA.

Chita Rivero’s father’s name was Pedro Julio Figueroa del Rivero, a Puerto Rican saxophonist in the US Navy Band. Her mother Katherine Figueroa del Rivero, was from an Italian-Scottish family. After her husband’s death in 1940, Katherine joined the Pentagon as an official.

How did Chita Rivera start her career in entertainment?

When Rivera turned 11, she was accepted into a ballet studio (Jones-Haywood School of Ballet). Four years later, a teacher from the School of American Ballet, after visiting the studio, invited two girls to a competitive selection in New York. Rivera passed the selection and became a student at the prestigious ballet school George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet. She attended her ballet classes for free via her scholarship.


In 1952, Rivera accompanied a friend to the casting of dancers for a Broadway show. She was persuaded to take part in the competition. As a result, Rivera not only made it to the final round, but also received one of the central roles. She went on to appear in popular shows like Seventh Heaven and Can-Can.

In 1957, Rivera was cast as Anita in the Broadway musical West Side Story. This role immediately brought her fame. Fully in the theatrical world, Chita worked in plays “Guys and Dolls”, “Can, Can”, “The Show String Revue”, where for the first time she was able to sing and act; “Seventh Heaven” and “Mr. Wonderful”, alongside Sammy Davis, Jr. But her definitive consecration on the Broadway stage was at the end of the 50s, with her performance as “Anita” in the musical “West “Side Story.” This work, whose recording was released by Columbia, earned Chita Rivera her first nomination for the Tony Award in the United States.

Later on, her career included brilliant performances in works such as “Zenda”, “Bajour”, “The Three Penny Opera”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”, “Father’s Day”, “The Rose Tattoo”, “Zorba”, “Bring Back Birdie” and “Merlin”. Her performance opposite Liza Minnelli in “The Rink” in 1985 earned her his first Tony Award after seven nominations. And her exquisite work in the musical “Kiss of the Spider Woman” once again confirmed her undeniable star quality.


One of Rivera’s most famous film roles is the role of Nicky in the film version of the Bob Fosse musical Sweet Charity (1969). Rivera’s cameo as Nicky in the film Chicago (2002) is famous. In 1978, the actress took part in the filming of the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Why did Chita Rivera leave the entertainment business?

In 1986, Rivera was involved in a car accident in downtown New York. Eighteen fractures made it impossible to continue her career as a musical actress. After two years of rehabilitation, Rivera got involved in the restaurant business.

When did Chita Rivera return to Broadway?

In 2003, Rivera returned to Broadway in the production of Nine. This is a musical arrangement of Federico Fellini’s script for the film Eight and a Half. The seventy-year-old actress performed several vocal and dance numbers. Her partner was Antonio Banderas.

She is one of the most versatile artists in the entertainment industry and her work on theatrical stages is a school for all generations.

Was Chita Rivera honoured by the USA?

Chita Rivera was honoured during the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors.

In August 2009, she received one of the highest US awards from Barack Obama – the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Was Chita Rivera honoured by Puerto Rico?

The Senate of Puerto Rico held a special session to honor the career of the actress, dancer and singer of Puerto Rican origin Chita Rivera, Senator Roberto Arango announced during a press conference where the artist spoke about her show “Chita Rivera: My Broadway”.

Rivera, who wore on her chest the Medal of Freedom that she received from the hands of North American President Barack Obama, was excited by the welcome she had received on the Island.

The 46th edition of the International Theater Festival of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture was dedicated to the winner of two Tony Awards, and she was also recognized by the UNESCO Cultural Center in San Juan. Furthermore, Chita Rivera was also the guest of honor of the country’s first family in La Fortaleza.

The veteran artist was extremely friendly, even though she does not speak Spanish. She said that first and foremost she considers herself a dancer and that she hopes to serve as an example to new generations of artists. The only thing she regretted is that her parents, who have already passed away, could not witness her most recent achievements and the love she has received from her in Puerto Rico.

What is Chita Rivera’s legacy?

Chita Rivera’s entry into the theatrical world occurred by chance. On one occasion she accompanied a friend who was auditioning for the chorus of the play “Call Me Madam.” But the one selected was Chita who, in a short time, left the choir to become the company’s principal dancer.

The energetic actress remains active on stage, with the revival of the musical “Nine” alongside Antonio Banderas being one of her most recent performances on Broadway. Simultaneously, Chita, who starred in the successful musical “Chicago” in the 1970s, acted in the film version of the same in 2002. This production, starring Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, won the Oscar in 2003.

With a career spanning more than 50 years on stage, Chita Rivera laid the foundation for the legendary starring roles of Anita in West Side Story and Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway.

The legendary actress of Puerto Rican roots Chita Rivera received a new nomination for the Tony Awards, which recognize the best of theater in the United States.

The actress, known for her memorable characters in Broadway musicals such as Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago, is nominated in the Best Musical Actress category for her work in The Visit, where she plays the character of one of the richest women in the world who returns to his town to settle accounts with a youthful love that broke his heart.

“Once the curtain goes up you forget everything except what you have to do,” the actress said in an interview, “You have a story to tell.”

Chita Rivera won her first Tony in 1985 for her work on The Rink and has also been recognized with important awards such as the Kennedy Center and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Chita Rivera walked a path less taken by women of her ethnic background and achieved incredible success, paving the way for a lot of Puerto Rican women along the way. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related articles

Cavan Biggio: A Crucial Member Of The Toronto Blue Jays

Cavan Biggio is a key player for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). While Cavan...

Zach Lowe: One Of The World’s Premier Basketball Journalists

Zach Lowe is a popular American sports journalist who is widely considered one of the best basketball writers...

Victor Wembanyama: The French Phenom Ready To Take The NBA Over

The NBA's San Antonio Spurs turned out to be perhaps the biggest sports success of the year. After...

Damian Lillard: From Small School To NBA All Star

Damian Lillard is a famous basketball player who plays professionally for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers franchise. Damian...