Chita Rivera, the one-of-a-kind Broadway star, died on Tuesday, according to her daughter. She was 91.
An indelible force in American theater, Rivera crafted characters that would go on to become iconic thanks in no small part to her portrayal of them. She originated the roles of Anita in West Side Story and Velma Kelly in Chicago. She won two Tony awards (three, if you count her lifetime achievement Tony), for The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and was nominated for eight more. In 2002, the Puerto Rican actress became the first Hispanic American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. In 2009, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
While she was a uniquely gifted singer and actor, Rivera really shone as a dancer. She worked with Bob Fosse numerous times, perhaps most famously on Chicago. She, along with Gwen Verdon, was particularly adept at making Fosse’s choreography come to life. Her gift was making the Hot Honey Rag look like anyone could do it.
Rivera is survived by her daughter, Lisa Mordente; her two brothers, Julio and Armando; and her sister, Lola de Rivero.