NEW YORK – Chita Rivera, the dynamic dancer, singer and actress who earned 10 Tony nominations and won twice in a long Broadway career that featured Latin performers and survived a near-fatal car accident, died Tuesday. She was 91 years old.
Rivera’s death was announced by his daughter, Lisa Mordente, who said he died in New York after a short illness.
Rivera first gained mainstream attention as Anita in the original production of “West Side Story” in 1957, and half a century later she was still dancing on Broadway with her signature energy in 2015’s “The Visit.”
“If I didn’t move, if I didn’t tell you a story or if I didn’t sing, I wouldn’t know what to do,” he told The Associated Press at the time. “This is the soul of my life, and I’m really lucky to be able to do what I love, even at this time in my life.”
In August 2009, Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the United States can bestow on a civilian. As President Barack Obama presented the medal, Rivera placed her hand over her heart and shook her head in surprise. In 2013, he was a marshal at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.