The Academy Award-winning actress Rita Moreno has been a Hollywood star for over seven decades, and she’s finally ready for her closeup, as she’s preparing to be featured in a new documentary about her life that includes some surprising affair with the legendary actor Marlon Brando.
“I don’t mind being admired and respected because it’s been a hard road,” Moreno, 89, told Closer Weekly. “I feel extremely fortunate.”
The film Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It tells the story of Moreno’s tenacity, which carried her from being a Puerto Rican immigrant from New York to being a household name
“I’ve always had to fight for what I’ve gotten, always,” added Moreno. “It has never come easy.”
Moreno was only 4 years-old when she arrived in New York with her mother, who worked as a seamstress, and things were far from easy for her.
“I had a really hard time with racial prejudice. People would call me names. I grew up thinking I had very little value,” Moreno recalled. She went on to say that she found comfort in performing and in watching movies.
“I never had a role model because there was nobody like me [in the movies] when I was a girl,” she said. “But Elizabeth Taylor became my icon because she was beautiful, young and a star.”
Moreno was only 13 when she was cast in her first role on Broadway, and she started getting small roles in movies when she was 19. She became progressively more famous until she won an Oscar for her work in West Side Story in 1961.
It was in 1954 when Moreno met Brando on the set of the movie Désirée, and the two of them quickly began an eight year affair.
“It was lust at first sight! Our sensual life was unbelievable,” Moreno remembered, although she admitted that their relationship was both “obsessive” and unhealthy.
“The more I saw of Marlon, the less I thought of myself,” she continued.
Three years after breaking up with Brando, Moreno married Leonard Gordon, a cardiologist who became her manager. They remained married until he died in 2010.
“We were married for around 46 years, but the last 20 years were not happy ones,” Moreno said. “He was a very controlling man — wonderful husband, father, loyal, but controlling.”
These days, as she prepares to turn 90 later this year, Moreno is still working and is loving life as a living legend.
‘This is the third act of my life and I want to be able to taste all the good stuff,” she said. “I’m taking advantage of every moment and I am doing it with a vengeance!”