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Most Likely to Succeed

Actor, singer and dancer Rita Moreno on winning Hollywood

Author Jacqueline Detwiler

Getty Images

Getty Images

Rita Moreno needs a new place to put her awards. “The shelf I had them on is no longer big enough,” she says. “Isn’t that hilarious? Now I’m trying to mix them in with the books.”

That should work for her two Emmys, her two Grammys, her Oscar and her Tony (Moreno is one of just 11 artists to have completed the “EGOT” that Tracy Morgan’s character coveted on “30 Rock”), but it may not be sufficient for the life-size replica of her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “That one takes up the most space,” she says.

With the Screen Actors Guild presenting her a Life Achievement Award on January 18, Moreno is faced with even more storage issues. Not that she’s complaining. “It’s the most amazing award that I will ever get in my life,” she says.

And what a life it’s been: Born in Puerto Rico and raised in a Bronx ghetto, Moreno, 82, rose to prominence in the 1950s—she was an MGM starlet alongside Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Lana Turner, winning the first of her big awards, a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 musical West Side Story. Later, she performed in films like Carnal Knowledge and The Night of the Following Day, dated Elvis, and was arguably the love of Marlon Brando’s life.

These days, in between the acting projects she still regularly takes on, she spends much of her time spoiling her two grandsons—who have been known to tromp around the house wearing her Presidential Medal of Freedom. When asked if there are any prizes she hasn’t won during her career, Moreno laughs. “Well, let’s see,” she says. “There’s always a Pulitzer.”

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Friends in High Places
Moreno finally gets to meet some real stars

“I just met Amy Poehler the other day, and she turned around and looked at me and said, ‘Oh my God, Rita Morenoooooo!’ and she put her arms around me and she said, ‘I love you.’ I pulled her away from me and I looked at her and I said, ‘You do?’ The same thing happened with Kerry Washington. I just don’t think of myself that way. Who does, really?

“I’m doing the second Rio movie this year, which my grandkids are so excited about. They’re just beside themselves. But they don’t realize that when you do these things, you don’t do it with all the other stars. I was hoping that I’d get to meet Anne Hathaway at least. Nope! Well, they’re gonna do a fancy premiere, so I imagine they’ll all be there. Oh, and maybe they’ll be at the SAG Awards! Oh my God, I’m gonna meet all these movie stars!”

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Also out this month

MOVIES The Frankenstein myth gets the full CGI/deafening soundtrack treatment in Stuart Beattie’s I, Frankenstein  // Zac Efron and Imogen Poots star in the rom-com That Awkward Moment MUSIC Rosanne Cash releases The River & the Thread, her first record in more than four years, on legendary jazz label Blue Note TV CBS presents democracy at its finest in the 40th annual People’s Choice Awards // PBS presents feudalism at its finest in the season four debut of “Downton Abbey”  BOOKS Ransom Riggs publishes Hollow City, which aims to emulate the chills/sales of his 2011 bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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