Happy birthday to the great Broadway legend Chita Rivera who turns 81 years young today!
If you look up the word dazzling in the dictionary, you should be able to find Chita Rivera’s name right there in the definition.This national treasure turns 81 today and she’s still going strong.
She came to fame in the late 50s as Anita in the original Broadway production of West Side Story followed by a starring role opposite Dick Van Dyke in Bye Bye Birdie. Chita also starred in the London productions of both those Broadway hits but was passed over for the film roles that went to Rita Moreno and Janet Leigh, respectively.
If Hollywood didn’t want to make Chita a star, she always had a place on the stage – front-and-center. She was Velma Kelly in the original production of Chicago, won Tony Awards for The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and more recently appeared on Broadway in Nine and Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.
She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and is also a Kennedy Center Honoree. Below is Chita reflecting in getting the Medal of Freedom and some of her performances.