Rita Moreno doesn’t sound 84 on the phone. The singer and actor who burst onto the entertainment stage as the fiery Anita in the 1962 movie musical “West Side Story” is still as sassy as her original smart-talking character. She dishes on Hollywood directors, laughs at being “an old fart” and is passionate about politics. And when she plays The Washington Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 13, Olympia audiences will get a chance to hear that sassiness in person, along with songs, memories and jokes.
Even before her “West Side Story” debut, Moreno was busy. Growing up in the Bronx after her family emigrated from Puerto Rico when she was 5, she was spotted early by talent scouts, debuting on Broadway at 13. By 19 she’d hit Hollywood, with films such as “The King and I” (as the demure-but-smart slave Tuptim) and “Singin’ in the Rain” (the ingénue Zelda Zanders). She went on to become one of just 12 entertainers to win an Emmy, Oscar, Tony and Grammy award — but more importantly, perhaps, she fought hard against the stereotypical roles she was given as a Latina to open up the entertainment field for actors of color.
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