Chita Rivera Broadway ‘First Great Triple Threat’ Chita Rivera Dies at 91

Chita Rivera Broadway 'First Great Triple Threat' Chita Rivera Dies at 91

In a touching announcement made by her daughter, Lisa Mordante, the Broadway community is reeling from the loss of the iconic Chita Rivera, a true legend who graced the stage with her unique talent for more than six decades. This article pays tribute to the ‘first great triple threat’ and three-time Tony Award winner, highlighting his remarkable journey and the lasting impact he has left.

Early life and unconventional journey

Washington DC. Born Dolores, Chita Rivera took an unconventional path to Broadway as Conchita Figueroa del Rivero. Initially, she was a spirited tomboy, her journey took an unexpected turn when her mother inspired her towards ballet to fuel her enthusiasm. This decision set the stage for Rivera’s transformative dedication to ballet, earning her a full scholarship to the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York.

Chita Rivera Broadway 'First Great Triple Threat' Chita Rivera Dies at 91

Chita Rivera

Full NameDolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero Anderson
Professional NameChita Rivera
OccupationActress, Singer, Dancer
Awards– Two Tony Awards
– Two Drama Desk Awards
– One Drama League Award
BornJanuary 23, 1933
BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States
DiedJanuary 30, 2024 (at the age of 91)
SpouseTony Mordente (married 1957–1966)
ChildrenLisa Mordente
Notable AwardTony Award for Best Performance by an Actress
in a Leading Role in a Musical

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Chita Rivera Broadway 'First Great Triple Threat' Chita Rivera Dies at 91

Breakout Role: Anita in West Side Story

In 1957, during an impromptu audition for Call Me Madam, Rivera’s fate became linked with Broadway. The defining moment came when she got the role of Anita in West Side Story, a musical film that not only showcased her athletic dancing abilities but also highlighted her acting and singing skills. Reflecting on the experience, Rivera shared, “Hearing ‘America’ with that rhythm was mind-boggling.”

First big triple threat

Rivera’s versatility as a performer, excelling in singing, acting and dancing cemented his status as the first great triple threat on Broadway. Visionary directors such as Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse recognized the need for performers who mastered all three skills, and Rivera became an invaluable asset to the Broadway stage.

Chita Rivera Broadway 'First Great Triple Threat' Chita Rivera Dies at 91

Victory and trials: a remarkable career

From 1960 to 2013, Chita Rivera graced Broadway with her presence, producing both hits and the occasional flop. He broke his left leg in a serious taxi accident in 1986, which posed a major challenge to his dancing abilities. However, Rivera defied the odds to make a triumphant return to the stage, albeit in a different capacity. As she candidly put it, “I don’t do flying splits anymore. I don’t do back flips and all the things I used to do. You want to know something? I don’t want to.”

A star that never fades

Despite the challenges, Rivera’s stardom never waned. Received numerous awards, including several Tony Awards, lifetime achievement recognition, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Although he did not venture much into television or film, his unwavering dedication to the stage established him as a true Broadway legend.


With her unique talent and flexibility, Chita Rivera represented everything that Broadway should have been. His legacy lives on in the hearts of those who have seen his performances and the countless artists he inspired. As Broadway dims its lights in his honor, the world is bidding farewell to a remarkable talent who left an indelible mark on the history of the Great White Way.


How many Tony Awards has Chita Rivera won during her career?

Chita Rivera won three Tony Awards during her illustrious career.

What was Chita Rivera’s breakthrough role on Broadway?

Rivera’s breakthrough role was playing Anita in West Side Story.

Did Chita Rivera face any major challenges in her career?

Yes, in 1986, he suffered a serious taxi accident which affected his ability to dance.

What recognition did Chita Rivera receive for her contributions to the arts?

Rivera received numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

How has Chita Rivera’s legacy impacted the Broadway community?

Leaving a lasting mark on Broadway, Chita Rivera’s legacy continues to inspire both audiences and fellow performers.

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