Actress Rita Moreno to speak at NEIU commencement ceremony

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Legendary actress Rita Moreno will be the the commencement speaker at Northeastern Illinois University’s graduation ceremony next month.

Best known for her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), Moreno is one of a handful of people to have won all four of the entertainment industry’s top honors: Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy.

“Rita Moreno is an inspiration and a role model who has consistently demonstrated the value of a strong work ethic,” Richard Helldobler, NEIU provost, said in a statement. “We are thrilled and honored to welcome Ms. Moreno into the Northeastern Illinois University family.”

Moreno will receive an honorary doctorate at the university’s May 11 ceremony at the UIC Pavilion at 525 S. Racine Ave., according to the NEIU website.

Born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Puerto Rico, Moreno moved with her mother to New York at age 5 and made her Broadway debut at 13. She was signed to a film contract at MGM after being spotted by a talent scout.

Moreno’s career has spanned 70 years, and included roles in the classic movies “Singing in the Rain” (1952) and “The King and I” (1956), in addition to many honors for her work in film, theater and television.

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