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4.9 | Rita Moreno, La Pionera

“And of course what’s funny is that, in the film, I am the person who wants to stay in America, and I would love America. And of course my sentiments, if I were in Anita’s position, and I certainly was once, would be just the opposite. Or not so much not staying in America, but changing things. I want to stay in America, it’s a wonderful country, but I’d sure like to see some changes.”

A member of the elite EGOT winners’ circle and recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, Rita Moreno is a pioneer in arts and culture. Today, we celebrate Moreno’s contributions by revisiting her 1962 interview with Studs Terkel in which they discuss her Puerto Rican heritage as it relates to her portrayal of Anita in West Side Story. Moreno won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for that role on this day fifty-eight years ago, becoming the first Latinx woman to do so. Listen now.

Explore the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, which features more than 1,200 programs and interviews with the twentieth century’s most fascinating people. Browse the archive


The Chicago History Museum is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856, the Museum is now at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, its third location. As a major museum and research center for Chicago and U.S. history, the Chicago History Museum strives to be a destination for learning, inspiration and civic engagement. Through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming, the Museum connects people to Chicago’s history and to each other. To share Chicago stories, the Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents, images and other items that are relevant to the city’s history. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. 

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