Legendary Broadway actress Chita Rivera has died at age 91. Rivera’s rep Merle Frimark said in a statement on Tuesday: “It is with immense personal sorrow that I announce the death of the beloved Broadway icon Chita Rivera. My dear friend of over 40 years was 91.”
A statement released by Rivera’s daughter Lisa Mordente said that she died in New York after a brief illness. The statement continued: “She [Rivera] is also survived by her siblings Julio, Armando and Lola del Rivero, (her older sister Carmen predeceased her), along with her many nieces, nephews and friends. Her funeral will be private. A memorial service will be announced in due course,” asking for any donations in her memory to be made to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Rivera’s Broadway credits date back to 1950 and include roles for shows such as West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Merlin and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Rivera starred as the original Velma Kelly in the 1975 production of Chicago on Broadway, and played leading lady Roxie Hart in Toronto, Las Vegas and London for the 25th anniversary of the show. Rivera won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical over the course of her career, for “The Rink” in 1984, and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1993; she was nominated for the award seven other times. She was also the recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in 2002 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented to her by President Obama in 2009.
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