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Rita Moreno The Merrier

Rita Moreno moved from Puerto Rico to New York when she was ten. And on her first day in the New York school she went home in tears. The kids had called her “Rubber Face!”

Rita’s mother said, “Never mind. The day may come when you’ll be glad to have such a face. It isn’t everybody who’s blessed with the power to express thoughts and emotions so easily.” Once convinced that “mother knows best,” she actually worked at developing her expressions.

“Sometimes I overdid it,” she admits. “Like the opening night of Skydrift.” There was a scene in which a mother thought she saw her son who had been killed in the war. Rita, as one of the daughters, was supposed to be quietly eating her spaghetti, unaware of the son’s ghost. But that rubber face got out of control and the audience was laughing at Rita’s mugging instead of sympathizing with the mother. Rita will never forget the lecture she got on the evils of stealing scenes.

She has danced since she was four. She was doing Spanish dances in nightclubs when she was fifteen, and even her rubber face didn’t convince police she was old enough to work.

“The owner of one little club locked me in the ladies’ room every time the police came in,” says Rita, “so I decided to quit and grow up.”

In films dubbed for export to Spanish-speaking countries, she has been the voice of Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner and many other young players.

Rita still looks younger than she is, but she’s old enough to vote and she has fourteen pictures to her credit. Next: Garden Of Evil.



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