Rita Moreno has been making Hollywood history for decades, and on Jan. 18, SAG-AFTRA recognized her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. The Puerto Rican-born actress was the first Latina to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in West Side Story. When she won an Emmy for her guest appearance on The Muppet Show at age 45, she became the youngest entertainer to achieve “EGOT” status, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—a distinction she still holds today.
The actress, who struggled to be taken seriously in the 1950s, has been inspiring young actresses ever since. HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors) even named an award of excellence after her. Moreno has a star on the Walk of Fame, has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush (2004) and National Medal of Arts from President Obama (2009).
Last night she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by Morgan Freeman, with whom she has been friends since their days on The Electric Company, where she was heard at the beginning of the opening theme, shouting "Hey you guys!" (Check out this clip of the two of them performing together four decades ago.) She made headlines by accidentally uttering the F-bomb in her acceptance speech. That speech, along with the after-event interview (seen above), illustrate both her vivacious attitude and humble spirit. Along with words of gratitude and wisdom, Moreno graced the audience with lines from a song made popular by Frank Sinatra, “This is All I Ask.”
Congratulations, Rita Moreno. May you continue to inspire.