Chita Rivera, the dynamic dancer, singer and actress who garnered 10 Tony nominations, winning twice, in a long Broadway career that forged a path for Latina artists and shrugged off a near-fatal car accident, died Tuesday. She was 91.
Rivera’s death was announced by her daughter, Lisa Mordente, who said she died in New York after a brief illness.
Rivera first gained wide notice in 1957 as Anita in the original production of West Side Story and was still dancing on Broadway with her trademark energy a half-century later in 2015’s The Visit.
“I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t moving or telling a story to you or singing a song,” she told The Associated Press then. “That’s the spirit of my life, and I’m really so lucky to be able to do what I love, even at this time in my life.”
In August 2009, Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour the United States can give a civilian. Rivera put her hand over her heart and shook her head in wonderment as U.S. President Barack Obama presented the medal. In 2013, she was the marshal at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City.
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