“Rita Moreno: A Memoir” in Bookstores & Online

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Whenever you hear the song “America” from West Side Story, no doubt Rita Moreno comes to mind. Moreno’s ‘Anita’ won her the Oscar and stardom. She is in the exclusive club of artists that have won the grand slam of arts awards including an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony…plus a Golden Globe and the National Medal of Honor.

At 80, Moreno is still singing, dancing, acting and writing.  Performing since the age of 7, Rita was discovered by Louis B. Mayer, the famed filmmaker of old Hollywood who remarked upon seeing her that she looked like a ‘Spanish’ Elizabeth Taylor.  Moreno was in her late teens/early twenties when she was rubbing shoulders with the greats of old Hollywood- Clark Gable, Yul Brynner, Gene Kelly, Marlon Brando- and yes, Elizabeth Taylor, too.

Last year Moreno starred in her autobiographical one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, to rave reviews at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Earlier this month she released  Rita Moreno: A Memoir.  Born Rosa Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico, her mother moved the family to New York City when she was 3. She takes us on her life journey once again- as an immigrant, as a starlet, and as a heartbroken young woman. To say she was involved with bad boy Marlon Brando is an understatement; infidelity, an unwanted pregnancy, and a suicide attempt made for good tabloid fodder publicly but privately it was a source of much pain.

Get the book and read all about Rita.

@SFLucho

PBS Series- Latino Americans, Narrated by Benjamin Bratt

PBS announced actor Benjamin Bratt will narrate LATINO AMERICANS, a landmark three-part, six-hour documentary series that is set to air nationally on PBS in the fall of 2013. It is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last 500-plus years and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S.

Bratt, a multi-award winner for his work on television’s “Law & Order” and star of several films including La Mission, Pinero and Traffic, will narrate LATINO AMERICANS. A team of filmmakers will document the evolution of a new “Latino American” identity from the 1500s to the present day, with interviews with close to 100 Latinos from the worlds of politics, business and pop culture, as well as deeply personal portraits of Latinos who lived through key chapters in American history.

LATINO AMERICANS features interviews with an array of individuals, including entertainer Rita Moreno, the Puerto Rican star of West Side Story and a winner of Academy, Tony, Grammy and Emmy Awards; labor leader and 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dolores Huerta, who in the 1960s co-founded with César Chávez the National Farm Workers Association, which later became United Farm Workers of America; Mexican-American author and commentator Linda Chávez, who became the highest-ranking woman in the Reagan White House; and Cuban-American singer and entrepreneur Gloria Estefan, who has sold more than 100 million solo and Miami Sound Machine albums globally.

The acclaimed singer-songwriter Lila Downs will serve as the featured artist for the series, performing the closing song in LATINO AMERICANS. Downs, born in Oaxaca, Mexico, began performing traditional Mexican rancheras as a girl, and singing with mariachis.  “The importance of music as a form of cultural expression to Latinos cannot be understated,” Downs said. “It’s a privilege to have our music be a part of this series, building on that rich tradition.”

LATINO AMERICANS relies on historical accounts and personal experiences to vividly tell the stories of early settlement, conquest and immigration; of tradition and reinvention; of anguish and celebration; and of the creation of this new American identity with an influx of arrivals from Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and countries in Central and South America.

The series is broken into the following six chronological segments that cover the 1500s to the present day.


Happy Birthday, Rita!

HEY,YOU GUYS!  The iconic Rita Moreno turned 81 this week (December 11)!

If you know what that line is from that’s probably one of the first times you saw Rita. She screamed the opening line of the Electric Company, the PBS children’s show that aired from 1971-1985. Rita is a singer, dancer, and actor with many credits to her name in film, tv, stage, and music. You probably have seen her in West Side Story (1961) as Anita, the role for which she is best remembered and which earned her an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.  If you’re a fan of cable programming, perhaps you saw her on HBO’s OZ,  the prison dramatic series where she played Sister Pete, a psychiatrist nun counseling prisoners. She’s currently on TV Land’s “Happily Divorced”  where she plays Fran Drescher’s mother.

Rita is entertainment royalty. She’s part of an elite small club of artists that have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award.  She was also honored with the National Medal of Arts in 2009 by President Barack Obama.

Happy birthday & many more, Rita!

@SFLucho