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Broadway Icon & Original ‘West Side Story’ & ‘Chicago’ Star Was 91

Chita Rivera, one of Broadway’s show-stopping legends and one of the most Tony Award-nominated performers in history, has died at the age of 91.

Rivera’s death was announced by her daughter, Lisa Mordente, who says she died peacefully after a brief illness. Rivera is known for starring in some of the most beloved Broadway musicals since the 1950s. She became a star when she originated the role of Anita in first production of West Side Story in 1957. Rivera also originated the role of Velma Kelly in Chicago, which opened in 1975 with Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart.

Rivera is 10-time Tony nominee with two competitive Tony Award wins (for The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman). She also received the Tony’s lifetime achievement award in 2018 and was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Few performers have starred in the original Broadway casts of iconic Broadway musicals as Rivera. In addition to West Side StoryChicagoThe Rink, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rivera was billed above Dick Van Dyke in the original production of Bye Bye Birdie in 1960.

More to come on this developing story…


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