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Chita Rivera, iconic figure of Broadway, dies at 91

The American comedian, singer and actress Chita Rivera, a great figure in Broadway musicals, died Tuesday at the age of 91, according to her family.

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Chita Rivera, iconic figure of Broadway, dies at 91

The American comedian, singer and actress Chita Rivera, a great figure in Broadway musicals, died Tuesday at the age of 91, according to her family. She died in New York after a “brief illness,” her daughter Lisa Mordente said in a statement.

Chita Rivera, a pioneer of Hispanic actresses in the very closed world of Broadway, was particularly known for her roles in West Side Story and Chicago.

But she did not land the leading role in the legendary film adaptation of West Side Story - Rita Moreno, another Hispanic, was on the bill. Arriving on the Broadway stages before she was 20, she did not leave them until she was 80, multiplying collaborations with the biggest names in American theater.

Chita Rivera, born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in 1933 in Washington to a father who was a musician in the Navy, learned singing, piano and ballet from an early age. She said she compared herself, during auditions, to the long-legged blondes who were competing with her at the time. “And there I was, little, dark-skinned, in a black skirt and a leotard, with a nose that looked like nothing,” she wrote in an autobiography published in 2023. She was, in the end, the one of the most nominated actresses for the Tonys, the major awards of American theater. In 2009, Barack Obama decorated her with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States.

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