NEW YORK -- Chita Rivera, the dancer, singer and actress who won two Tony Awards in a long Broadway career that forged a path for Latina artists, died Tuesday. She was 91.
Rivera's death was announced by her daughter, Lisa Mordente, who said she died in New York after a brief illness.
Rivera first gained wide notice in 1957 as Anita in the original production of "West Side Story" and was still dancing on Broadway with her trademark energy a half-century later in 2015's "The Visit."
"I wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't moving or telling a story to you or singing a song," she told The Associated Press then. "That's the spirit of my life, and I'm really so lucky to be able to do what I love, even at this time in my life."
In August 2009, Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the United States can give a civilian.
Chita Rivera Dies at 91
She won Tonys for "The Rink" in 1984 and "Kiss of the Spider Woman" in 1993. She was nominated for the award seven other times.
When accepting a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018, Rivera said, "I wouldn't trade my life in the theater for anything, because theater is life."
Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero was born Jan. 23, 1933, in Washington, D.C. Her Puerto Rican father, Pedro del Rivero, was a musician who played in the U.S. Navy Band. He died when she was 7. Her mother was of Scottish and Italian descent.
She took dance classes and then entered the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York. Her first theater gig, at age 17, was in the touring company of "Call Me Madam." That led to chorus stints in such shows as "Guys and Dolls" and "Can-Can."
Among her other early appearances on the New York stage were roles in 1955's "The Shoestring Revue," a 1955 musical version of "Seventh Heaven" starring Ricardo Montalban and "Mr. Wonderful," a 1956 show starring Sammy Davis Jr.
"I can't believe that I've been given the gift to look back and relive my life," she told The Associated Press shortly before "The Dancer's Life" opened on Broadway in late 2005. "It's about how anybody can do it -- if you really believe it, you have the good fortune, you do all the right things and you really work hard."
Rivera, who had a relationship with the now-deceased Davis, married fellow "West Side Story" performer Tony Mordente in 1957. The marriage ended in divorce. Their daughter, Lisa Mordente, also became a performer who occasionally appeared on Broadway, garnering a Tony nomination in 1982 for "Marlowe."
"Our hearts go out to everyone who loved her," GLAAD said in a statement. "Rivera spent much of her long career advocating for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV and AIDS."