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“Chita Rivera, dead at 91, Tony Award-winning actress and singer.”

Chita Rivera at arrivals for The New York Landmarks Conservancy 25th Living Landmarks Celebration, The Plaza, New York, NY November 1, 2018. Photo By: Steve Mack/Everett Collection (Newscom TagID: evphotostwo200226.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Chita Rivera, the extraordinary Broadway icon celebrated for her unforgettable performances in classics like “Chicago” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” has passed away at the age of 91. Her longtime publicist, Merle Frimark, confirmed her peaceful passing in New York City after a short illness.

Rivera’s career was nothing short of spectacular, earning her a record-breaking 10 Tony Award nominations and winning twice for her roles in “The Rink” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” She graced the stage in timeless productions such as “West Side Story” and “Bye Bye Birdie,” leaving audiences awestruck with her immense talent and charisma.

Not confined to the stage, Rivera also left her mark on the silver screen, appearing in memorable film adaptations like “Sweet Charity” and “Chicago.” Her most recent screen appearance in Netflix’s “Tick, Tick… Boom!” showcased her enduring relevance in the entertainment industry.

Hailing from Washington, DC, Rivera’s journey to stardom began with ballet lessons at the age of 9, eventually leading to a scholarship at the prestigious School of American Ballet under the guidance of George Balanchine. As a triple-threat performer, she shattered barriers and opened doors for Latinx artists in the industry.

Throughout her illustrious career, Rivera received numerous accolades, including a Kennedy Center honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Special Tony Award for lifetime achievement. In addition to her stage and screen presence, she also shared her life story in her memoir, “Chita: A Memoir,” leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire generations.

Tributes poured in from fellow performers and admirers, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, director of “Tick, Tick… Boom!,” praising Rivera as a trailblazer for Puerto Rican talent, and Rita Moreno, a fellow Puerto Rican actress, honoring her as “eternal” and the epitome of Broadway.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, who portrayed Velma Kelly in the film adaptation of “Chicago,” expressed gratitude for Rivera’s profound impact on her life, while Ariana DeBose, who played Anita in the “West Side Story” remake, described Rivera as a force of nature and a constant source of inspiration.

Stephanie Pope, a Broadway actress and close friend of Rivera, fondly remembered her as a legend and a true star, emphasizing her unmatched standard of excellence. Rivera is survived by her daughter Lisa Mordente, siblings, and a wide circle of loved ones. Her funeral will be a private affair, marking the end of an era in the world of Broadway.

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