Chita Rivera, the legendary Broadway star, died Tuesday at age 91
Chita Rivera is being remembered for her lasting legacy.
The trailblazing Broadway star died peacefully Tuesday in New York at age 91 after a brief illness, her daughter Lisa Mordente announced. Her family added that a private funeral will be held, plus a memorial service that will be announced later. They asked that any donations in her memory be made to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Catherine Zeta-Jones, who won an Oscar playing Velma Kelly in the 2002 film Chicago, honored Rivera on Instagram Tuesday, writing there are "no words to tell you what an incredible impact you have had on my life."
"From dreaming of being you as a little girl, then meeting you and then being deeply connected to you by playing the one and only Velma Kelly in Chicago," she wrote. "There will never, ever, be anyone like you Chita, ever. Dim the lights on Broadway! Or, may I suggest, we just plug the plug. I love you Chita, sleep tight my Queen."
Rivera did a cameo for the 2021 movie adaptation of Tick, Tick... Boom! The film's director Lin-Manuel Miranda said in a statement that Rivera is a "trailblazer" who had so many "iconic Broadway roles because she was an absolute original."
"When we filmed the diner scene in Tick, Tick..Boom!, she wasn’t available for the shoot dates, so I left a chair empty in the diner for those three days," the Hamilton creator said.
"The whole shoot, people kept trying to move the chair or clear space and I’d have to say no, we’re GOING to get Chita, I don’t know how but we’re going to do it. Eight months later on our reshoots, she joined us and held court all day. It remains one of the all-time joys of my life. She was magnificent. She IS magnificent, not ready for the past tense just yet."
"My heart is with everyone in Chita’s galaxy of family and friends. We’ll be blasting West Side Story and Bye, Bye Birdie and Chicago and SO MUCH MUSIC, because she left us so much. Gracias, Chita. Alabanza."
Rob Marshall, director of the Chicago movie, said, "We will never see the likes of Chita Rivera again. Her blazing talent, divine humor and electric personality literally leapt off the stage and into my heart. I will carry our special friendship, her soaring spirit and passionate soul with me forever."
Laura Benanti, who costarred with Rivera in the Tony Award-winning 2003 revival of Nine, said in a statement: "Chita Rivera took me under her wing when I was 22 years old and never let me go. She was the brightest star in the galaxy, the hardest worker in the room, the funniest and warmest person at every table. Her legacy will live on forever and I will love her for eternity.”
Jason Alexander shared a photo of himself with Rivera on X and wrote that she was "one of the greatest spirits and colleagues I’ve ever known." "She set the bar in every way. I will cherish her always," he added. "Dance in heaven, my friend."
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Mia Farrow called Rivera "an authentic Broadway icon" in a statement shared on X. "A dazzling actress, singer and dancer. No one who was fortunate enough to have seen any of her performances, will ever forget [the] experience," she wrote. "She gave us so much."
Bernadette Peters said in a statement that Rivera "was an amazing talent and vibrant fun person." The Broadway star added, "She was a great star up til the very end. She did it all very well."
Playwright Paul Rudnick wrote on X that Rivera "always delivered and audiences adored her" in her performances. "The moment she stepped onstage, the world became more exciting and glorious."
Oscar nominee Colman Domingo also shared a photo of Rivera on the social media platform and wrote, "A life well lived. An Icon. A friend."
James L. Nederlander, Broadway producer and president and CEO of the Nederlander Organization, said in a statement that Rivera "was one of a kind."
"A legend, an icon, a trailblazer. But most of all, a great friend and champion of musical theater," he continued. "This is a monumental loss for our industry, but we will always be grateful to have known and worked with her. Today, Broadway has lost one of its greatest stars, but her memory will live on in her iconic performances. We will miss you, Chita."
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