Rita Moreno: A Memoir

Rita Moreno: A Memoir

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by Rita Moreno
     
 

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In this New York Times bestselling memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend—and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys.

Born Rosita Dolores Alverio in the idyll of Puerto Rico, Moreno, at age five,

Overview

In this New York Times bestselling memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico to Hollywood legend—and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys.

Born Rosita Dolores Alverio in the idyll of Puerto Rico, Moreno, at age five, embarked on a harrowing sea voyage with her mother and wound up in the harsh barrios of the Bronx, where she discovered dancing, singing, and acting as ways to escape a tumultuous childhood. Making her Broadway debut  by age thirteen—and moving on to Hollywood in its Golden Age just a few years later—she worked alongside such stars as Gary Cooper, Yul Brynner, and Ann Miller.

When discovered by Louis B. Mayer of MGM, the wizard himself declared: “She looks like a Spanish Elizabeth Taylor.”  Cast by Gene Kelly as Zelda Zanders in Singin’ in the Rain and then on to her Oscar-winning performance in West Side Story, she catapulted to fame—yet found herself repeatedly typecast as the “utility ethnic,” a role she found almost impossible to elude.

Here, for the first time, Rita reflects on her struggles to break through Hollywood’s racial and sexual barriers. She explores the wounded little girl behind the glamorous façade—and what it took to find her place in the world. She talks candidly about her relationship with Elvis Presley, her encounters with Howard Hughes, and the passionate romance with Marlon Brando that nearly killed her. And she shares the illusiveness of a “perfect” marriage and the incomparable joys of motherhood.

Infused with Rita Moreno’s quick wit and deep insight, this memoir is the dazzling portrait of a stage and screen star who longed to become who she really is—and triumphed.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It's clear Rita Moreno was a pioneer in every aspect of her life.”—The Huffington Post

“Sure to inspire and empower, straight from our very own living legend and the original triple threat:  Rita Moreno.”—Being Latino
 

Publishers Weekly
Most famous as Anita in West Side Story, Moreno, now 81, shares her life story in this candid memoir spanning her unceremonious childhood arrival from Puerto Rico to her decades-long career in show business. Born Rosita Alverio in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Moreno gets a rude awakening when in 1936 her single mother moves her to New York City. She finds a passion for singing and dancing while her mother looks for a new husband. Soon, Hollywood knocks on her door. Moreno gives the "Old Hollywood" studio system a long, honest look: she receives her stage name from a studio executive, she is regularly sent out on arranged "dates" with young actors, is made to attend a "troll-and-starlet" mixer with studio funders, and romances several celebrities of her time. In an era when actresses were rampantly "pretending to be ethnicities they obviously not," Moreno is cast again and again as the "hot Latin spitfire" when she was a "reliable, hardworking actor always in search of a better part." There is no question that Moreno's career wound its way through an interesting era; the memoir is a capably composed, entertaining read for anyone with a pre-existing interest in Moreno or 1950s Hollywood. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Actress Moreno’s memoir begins with dreamy recollections of her early childhood in Puerto Rico, and then proceeds in a more straightforward fashion, sometimes with the air of someone consulting a well-preserved date book to remind herself of events that need to be covered. Moreno’s life has had significant high points, including having won Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, and Tony awards—known as an EGOT—which she mentions several times, yet she doesn’t flinch at examining low points, such as her suicide attempt or the “roller coaster ride” of her career. She dishes, sometimes intimately, on Hollywood associates, both at length (Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley) and in brief tidbits (e.g., Mario Lanza, Donald O’Connor, Gene Kelly, John Kennedy, Rory Calhoun, Ann Miller, and many others). Though Moreno at times complains of being typecast as an ethnic spitfire, she would also emphasize her accent or exotic looks for laughs or to get a part. Perseverance is a theme throughout.

Verdict This readable and sometimes moving story of Moreno’s life in movies, on television, stage, and screen is surrounded by details of her politics and personal life.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451416391
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
411,915
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“It's clear Rita Moreno was a pioneer in every aspect of her life.”—The Huffington Post

“Sure to inspire and empower, straight from our very own living legend and the original triple threat:  Rita Moreno.”—Being Latino
 

Meet the Author

Rita Moreno is one of the few artists to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. She has also received a Golden Globe Award and a National Medal of Honor. She recently concluded a sold-out run of her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, California, and regularly appears in the television show, Happily Divorced.

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Rita Moreno 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best movie star memoir I ever read! Rita gives a heartbreaking account of her migration from Puerto Rico to dirty cold NYC. Unable to speak English, she suffered as a child. But she sure was a quick study and was on Broadway by 13. Her backstage stories are hilarious and revealing...and like Rita herself, very smart. She writes very very well. I couldn't put it down and kept the book in bed with me! Her stories about Marlon Brando, Elizabeth taylor, Paul henreid, Ann Miller, Elvis...all so interesting. I felt i was with her all those years- she was a teen starlet then a suffering unemployed actress, Maybe the best parts are her accounts of being a :"generic ethjnic" with an all purpose accent- Indian maiden, Siamese conclubine, Mexican harlot- they all spoke Rita-pidgin English. She had the smarts and compassion to fight for equal rights- for all races, and she deserves to be an icon. She is funny as hell, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is more than the usual movie star tell all. In fact Rita Moreno has exposed her soul without trashing the people in her life. It’s filled with vivid images and the coming of age tale of this immigrant Puerto Rican girl. Tasteful done – Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An incredible life and an incredible book!
Mik3MF More than 1 year ago
While I've never been an ardent fan of her work, I find her story fascinating. She is a person who understands herself pretty well, seems honest and direct (a quality I adore), makes many mistakes but seems to learn from them (eventually) and I found it hard to put down. The memoir is a bit spotty as it dwells on her torrid "romance" with Brando rendering all else to a minor status. Perhaps this is the seminal event in her life or the one her editor thought would sell best. Her comments about "the Pelvis" confirmed what others have said and I applaud her for that bit. I love memoirs and biographies from interesting people and she is a most interesting person...and to me her performing talent is secondary. I'd like to know her as a person...and this books makes me want to invite her to dinner for a chat. Read it.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars. Ms. Moreno is an incredible woman; I stand in awe of her, and I enjoyed reading this book very much. Am assuming, since I looked for co-writer or ghostwriting credits and there were none, Ms. Moreno wrote it herself, which is admirable in and of itself. She paints a vivid picture of her life in Technicolor Juncos, Puerto Rico, in the "ice-cream houses," and the contrast in going to gray, cold and grimy New York City was like going from Oz back to Kansas. This was a nice metaphor the first time it was used; by the third of fourth repetition it was annoying. And although she doesn't savage him, it seems that her 45+ year marriage with her now deceased husband was not all that and a bag of banana chips. The most detail she goes into at all is about her long-time affair with Marlon Brando, and yet, many things even in that seem glossed over. WAS she still having sex with him while he was married to other women - and how did she feel about that? She IS heartbreakingly candid about her illegal, botched abortion, and her mental frame of mind at the time she attempted suicide in Brando's house. I think most readers will come away from this as I did - tremendously impressed by M.s Moreno's life and accomplishments, saddened by the racism, sexism, and ageism that she and many other "ethnic" performers have had to endure, and in the end, wanting more. Isn't that the slogan in showbiz, "Always leave 'em wanting more"?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is written very well and keeps your attention. Ms. Moreno has had an interesting life and gives some insight as to how the movie industry worked, especially in the 1950's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far one of the sexiest women to ever live.
Nadina85 More than 1 year ago
Moreno's story is broken down into four parts, each one chronicling her evolution from humble little Rosita Dolores Alverio from Juncos into the sizzling songstress/screen siren, Rita Moreno. It's a tumultuous journey of insecurity, doubt, passion and self-discovery told in the most raw and honest of ways. In it, she describes the lush landscape of her native Puerto Rico, her struggle to break on to the Hollywood scene and her harrowing and debilitating relationship with bad boy, Marlon Brando. On the surface, Moreno's life seems so perfect but underneath it all it's one built atop broken promises --- by her mother and father, by Hollywood and by many lovers --- the strength she pulls from all these experiences though, that's what makes this book such an incredible one to read. Her story is as captivating as she herself is on screen.This book is packed with insight as Rita recounts her rise to fame and her experiences on the silver screen. I loved how she reviews her past performances in a more objective way. It's interesting to see what she's most critical about and what of those early performances she can really appreciate.Moreno is a multi-faceted woman --- she's strong, passionate, vivacious, demure and incredibly self-concious. Despite wearing a tough and sexy visage, like many of her contemporaries, she's more than just another pretty face. This book is her personal narrative on how she conqured the world and, if anything, it's one of the most authentic books I've ever read. She's had quite the journey and even though it wasn't alwasy the easiest, it was certainly an incredible one. Rita Moreno: A Memoir is the story about respected singer/actress, Rita Moreno. The story chronicles Moreno's journey from Puerto Rico to America and her struggles for fame, love and leading a fulfilling life. Featuring vignettes on her films, behind-the-scenes gossip on her fellow actors, intimate details about her love life, it's a tale of survival, reinventing yourself and overcoming crippling self doubt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is turly inspirational and amazing. i can relate to it, in sooooo many ways. LOVE it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was your typical movie star story. I understand the pain she endured leaving her family in Puerto Rico, however throughout the entire book, she mentioned only once did she have her husband Lenny try to locate her long lost brother Francesco. Not only did her mother leave her baby boy, but she "forgot" about him also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well-written autobiography.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PUERTO RICO HASTA E FIN DEL MUNDO VAMOS ARIBA PUERTO RICO
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DivineMsMReader More than 1 year ago
A good read about a great lady...it's also an insightful look into the changing America and Hollywood from the WASPY rule through the civil rights shift and to the melting pot we should always have been.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great memoir. I laughed cried and truly found myself really understanding a lot of what Rita Moreno had to go through as a young child. As a latina myself, who moved here when I was 12, could relate with a lot more than many could imagine.
Angi_Simon More than 1 year ago
I can't give a review as it was a gift.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who the h.ell r u