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Chita Rivera, the Tony Award-winning singer and actress, has died at the age of 91

Chita Rivera, the Tony Award-winning singer and actress, has died at the age of 91

(CNN) – Chita Rivera, the famous stage and film actress who appeared in films such as “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Sweet Charity,” has died at the age of 91.

Merle Freemark, Rivera's longtime publicist, confirmed the news to CNN on Tuesday, saying Rivera died “in New York after a brief illness.”

Rivera has received 10 Tony Award nominations, winning two for “The Rink” and “The Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Her incomparable Broadway career spanned several decades, from playing Anita in “West Side Story” to starring opposite Dick Van Dyke in “Bye Bye Birdie” to starring in such iconic Bob Fosse musicals as “Chicago” and “All That ” jazz.

Although he maintained a hectic schedule on stage, Rivera also appeared in numerous films and television shows, including a film adaptation of “Sweet Charity” and “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

His most recent appearance was in the 2021 Netflix film “Tick, Tick… ​​​​Boom!”, in which he appeared in a series alongside other celebrities from the music scene.

Born in Washington in 1933, Rivera began as a dancer at age 9 before earning legendary choreographer George Balanchine a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, according to Freemark's obituary.

Rivera, whose father was Puerto Rican, quickly became one of Broadway's most prominent multi-faceted performers (actress, singer, dancer), paving the way for other Latinas who would come after her. She played the immortal Anita in the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” in 1957.

Her theatrical credits include lead roles in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Rink” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” along with the original Broadway cast of “Guys and Dolls” and “Mr. Fabulous.”

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Among Rivera's honors are a Kennedy Center Honor in 2002 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to him by President Obama in 2009. He also received a 2018 Special Tony Award for his career in theater.

Rivera also wrote a book called “Chita: A Memoir,” which was published last year.

Stephanie Pope, a Broadway actress and Rivera's friend, told CNN on Tuesday that the late star “is and always will be a legend… He achieved a level of excellence that we all aspire to but will never reach.”

“I appreciated the time I got to spend with her on and off the stage,” Bob added. “The theater community and the world have lost a true star.”

Freemark included a statement from Rivera's daughter, Lisa Mordente, who stated that the star's funeral would be private and that she left behind her daughter along with her siblings Julio, Armando and Lola del Rivero “as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.” “.”

CNN's Brian Lowry and Dan Hitching contributed to this report.