Rita Moreno: West Side Story's Young Anita, Then And Now

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Rita Moreno as Anita in 'West Side Story' (1961); in a publicity photo circa 1955. Source: (Getty; Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hollywood didn't know what to do with Rita Moreno when her West Side Story (1961) performance brought her an Oscar, but not better roles, she went on her way. Rita Moreno, who was five years old when she came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, had endured the stereotypical ethnic roles and flourished -- and she has continued to flourish while controlling her own destiny. If you didn't catch her in West Side Story, you might recall her yelling "Hey you guys!" on The Electric Company or consoling inmates on the gritty prison drama Oz. She's coming off a three-year stint on the Netflix remake of One Day At A Time. She's among the most celebrated performers of all time.

Moreno began performing on Broadway at 13 and had her first film role in the 1950 reform-school girl movie So Young, So Bad. She’s best known as Anita in West Side Story, a role that netted her an Academy Award, although her life can’t be distilled down to a single performance.

Not only is she one of the most acclaimed performers of the 20th century, but she spent nearly a decade locked in a torrid love affair with Marlon Brando that included a tryst of sorts with Elvis Presley. Somehow she also found time to work on children’s television. Moreno’s story is far from over, and she can still be seen on television today.