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InDepth InterView: Rita Moreno Talks New Memoir, Broadway, Hollywood, Upcoming Projects & More


Today we are talking to a legendary triple-threat performer who over the course of her unique career has become one of a select few in show business to have attained the entertainment quadruple crown - winning the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony; commonly referred to as the EGOT - the exceptionally gifted Rita Moreno. Exploring many aspects of her revealing and absorbing new autobiography, RITA MORENO: A MEMOIR, Moreno opens up about her fascinating and boundary-breaking career in Hollywood and on Broadway, having appeared in three of the greatest movie musicals of all time - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, THE KING & I and WEST SIDE STORY - as well as in the Mike Nichols classic CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, in addition to an impressive list of TV and theatre credits, as well. Additionally, Moreno reveals her insights into the creative process itself and the strides she made in the industry as the first Latin American actress to win an Academy Award. Moreno looks back at starring in Terrence McNally's THE RITZ on Broadway and its subsequent film adaptation, as well as offers a rich recounting of her time starring in the original West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's SUNSET BOULEVARD as the one and only screen icon Norma Desmond, and, appearing in the original West End production of SHE LOVES ME across the pond, directed by Harold Prince. Also, Moreno reveals plans to revisit her one woman show from which sprung the seed of the idea for her stupendous new book, titled LIFE WITHOUT MAKEUP, as well as shares her thoughts on Broadway today and remarks upon favorite recent films, shows and perfomers. And, Moreno and I discuss her receiving an honor from President Obama and recording Sonia Sotomayor's audio book (by request) and she offers an update on her new family-friendly film NICKY DEUCE and touches upon her current small-screen role on TV Land's Happily Divorced and much, much more in this career-spanning conversation!

More information on RITA MORENO: A MEMOIR is available here.

A Diva Like That

PC: You and Chita Rivera just performed together quite recently - you have such a famous association, of course.

RM: [Laughs.] Yes, Chita and I did perform together for the Hispanic Heritage Organization. We did a number together - it was for the inauguration, actually.

PC: So, you are an Obama woman, then, I take it?

RM: Oh, yes - indeed, I am.

PC: Have you gotten a chance to meet the Commander In Chief yourself?

RM: Oh, you bet - he gave me a medal not too long ago!

PC: Was that a particular thrill to receive, especially as an admirer of his?

RM: Oh, it was just fantastic. I rehearsed all morning - putting my hand out to shake his just right and all that; trying to be dignified and all of that. So, then, when we actually got there and did it, I get up on this little podium and I just grabbed him and hugged him! [Laughs.]

PC: How fabulous!

RM: Yes, I have wonderful, wonderful photos of that.

PC: Would Little Rosita as depicted in your autobiography ever see herself in that position - with an African American president handing out the honor, no less?

RM: Heck, no! No president at all - let alone a black one.

PC: Also, Chita just returned to Broadway in THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, would you be open to a Broadway return, as well?

RM: Oh, definitely. I did a one woman show about my life in Berkeley, California, about three years ago and I have been dying to get it staged again and do it, but, since I have been doing the series HAPPILY DIVORCED, I wasn't free to do it - there were lots of theaters who wanted it, by the way. But, you know, you have to give them all a lot of lead-time, and, when you are under contract to a series like I am, they could decide to shoot another ten episodes, you know, next month - and, sometimes they do!

PC: It's unpredictable - especially now and with how things are done on cable.

RM: It is. And, so, you can't do that to a theater - cancel at the last minute or anything like that. So, you need to give them a lot of lead-time so they can advertise it and all that stuff.

PC: Understandably so.

RM: So, you can't just call them up and say, [Deep Breath.] "Guess what, guys? I have some bad news..." [Laughs.]

PC: That nightmarish call...

RM: Seriously, though, I am dying to do it again - I think it has just a wonderful title, too: LIFE WITHOUT MAKEUP.

PC: It's a fabulous coda in RITA MORENO: A MEMOIR, as well.

RM: I think so, too. You see, doing LIFE WITHOUT MAKEUP onstage is what inspired me to do a book in the first place. They asked me for years to do one, but I just wasn't interested. But, after having done the show, I knew it was the right time. So, I have to say, I am a first time writer and I am very nervous about reviews and interviews and all of that stuff - I am very nervous. I know this much, though: everyone who has read it who has interviewed me so far just really loves it and I am so happy about that. I am so glad people really like it.

PC: It's a remarkable recounting of your life and career, to say the very least.

RM: Thank you for saying that.

PC: The descriptive language is absolutely gorgeous, in particular, I found.

RM: Yes, that's something I found that I could do pretty well, I think. I just love details - I love trying to make the reader smell what I was smelling at the time and see what I was seeing; textures, too; all that kind of stuff is probably my strong suit as far as my writing goes, I would say.

PC: It's very vivid.

RM: It makes me nervous now - competing with all of these real writers! [Laughs.] I love talking about the book, though.

PC: Of the many incredible films you discuss in the book, CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, is a towering achievement - and so ahead of its time. The depiction of your husband at the time hating your involvement in it because of its controversial nature in is so compelling.

RM: Oh, yes - that's what's so astonishing about it, isn't it?! You're right, though - that film was so, so far ahead of its time.

PC: Mike Nichols is so gifted - could you even compare him to, say, Jerome Robbins?

RM: Oh, Mike Nichols is his own thing - and, so was Jerry Robbins. He was his own thing, too - his own man. [Pause.] I think Mike Nichols is brilliant but I think Jerry Robbins was a genius.

PC: An illuminating differentiation to make. What do you remember about first meeting Jerry Robbins?

RM: Well, you have to remember that I worked with Jerry Robbins on the only two films he ever did - THE KING & I and WEST SIDE STORY. It was his idea to bring me in for Anita after working with him on THE KING & I .

PC: Did you audition for him for that?

RM: No, I did not audition for him for THE KING & I - I was under contract to FOX and they assigned the film to me.

PC: You didn't even have to sing or dance for him, then?

RM: No - nothing. [Laughs.]

PC: And you sing all of your own material in it, yes? No Marni Nixon-esque dubbing?

RM: Yes, it's only a little bit I sing in it, but it's all me - just me. No Marni Nixon or anyone.

PC: THE KING & I is one of the great movie musicals, too - so sumptuous.

RM: I agree - I think it's an absolutely glorious film. You know, I really am so lucky to have been in some really spectacular movies, I have to say, now that we are here talking about them all.

PC: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN must be mentioned, as well.

RM: Oh, yes - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is one of them. CARNAL KNOWLEDGE is one of them, too. Also, THE KING & I is one of them - and I think WEST SIDE STORY is definitely one of them, as well, without any question.

PC: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN and WEST SIDE STORY are the two greatest movie musicals ever made, I would say.

RM: I think so, too. I watch SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at least once a year with my grandchildren and they just adore it.

PC: It was a big hit in its Fathom re-release last year.

RM: I saw it - under very special circumstances, actually. For Gene Kelly's 100th Birthday they had a special showing, so I saw it there. It was a brand new digital print and everything, as you know, so I got to see it at the Smithsonian. After the film, Gene's wife, Patricia Kelly, and I went onstage and talked about it and talked about Gene.

PC: She spoke so favorably of you when you did this column, as a matter of fact.

RM: She is so, so good - she really knows her stuff.

PC: "Make 'Em Laugh" and some of the other numbers in the film are as good if not better than the more famous songs - your discussion of that in the book was quite intriguing, I thought.

RM: I think it's true, don't you? "Make 'Em Laugh" is fantastic, but I think Donald O'Conner even outdoes Gene Kelly in the number they do together.

PC: That's the real showstopper of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, people forget.

RM: Well, don't forget that Donald was a hoofer - a real hoofer. Gene was a dancer, but Donald was a hoofer and that happened to be a hoofer number. He was superb.

PC: It must have been exceptional to watch that type of material being done.

RM: Ab-so-lute-ly! [Laughs.]

PC: Patricia Kelly said he was incredibly ill when he shot the title song.

RM: Yes, he was. A 103 degree temperature! Can you imagine?! That poor man! I had no idea at the time...

PC: What do you remember about the scene as it was shot?

RM: I remember it was filmed under this huge black tarp and it was outside - it was not on a set, it was outside! So, when you are wet and you are outside you can really get cold... and, he did. I honestly don't know how he did it and didn't die of pneumonia.

PC: It's not true there is milk mixed in with the water to aid it in showing up better on film, is it?

RM: I don't believe so - I don't think there was milk in it. I don't remember that.

PC: The remastering of both WEST SIDE STORY and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is so exquisite - as are the new Blu-rays of each. Have you seen them?

RM: Yes, yes - I know! They are magnificent. It's wonderful they are out there in that form.

PC: The documentary on the WEST SIDE STORY DVD is so informative. Do you enjoy participating in those retrospective type of things?

RM: Oh, of course - of course! I mean, really, what's not to like?! [Laughs.] It's WEST SIDE STORY!

PC: Indeed. Actually, have you heard any rumblings about a CARNAL KNOWLEDGE re-release? The DVD is out of print and bare-bones anyway.

RM: Oh, I'd love to be involved with something about that, for that. I think that film is absolutely brilliant - and, as we said earlier, so ahead of its time, as well.

PC: Who would ever expect Rita Moreno as the prostitute in the final pivotal scene with Jack Nicholson?! Unbelievable.

RM: [Laughs.] That's an extraordinary scene, isn't it?!

PC: You can say that again - unforgettable.

RM: I think that was an extraordinary movie moment and I think that movie should have been recognized at the Oscars - but, even back then, we knew that was never going to happen. Not a film like that...

PC: It was too edgy.

RM: Yes, it was. I think that it's the same reason that I knew that Helen Hunt, even though she deserved it, would never win for THE SESSIONS.

PC: She was sublime in that.

RM: Oh, she was - it's just not an Oscar movie, though!

PC: John Hawkes, too.

RM: I thought they both were simply extraordinary. Wow!

PC: They both won Independent Spirit Awards, at least.

RM: Yes and I am thrilled about that! They deserve it.

PC: As a famous studio star of the old Hollywood system, what do you think of the new way films are made and released - particularly internet-funded and web-released movies?

RM: Well, what I love about it most is that they are doing them because they love the film they are making - and they love the scripts they are doing. So, if it takes a sacrifice for them to be able to do it, they still do it anyway - and I say, "Good for them!" Good for them for believing in what they are doing - it's great to know there are still actors out there doing that.

PC: 2012 was a generally great year for film - pretty diverse, too - wouldn't you say?

RM: I agree. I have to say that I loved ARGO, especially, out of the nominated films.

PC: One of the most revealing aspects of your new book is the graphic depictions of racism and disrespect you suffered. What are your thoughts on a film like DJANGO UNCHAINED, especially the use of the N-word and so on?

RM: Oh, well, in the case of DJANGO UNCHAINED - I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a fabulous movie and I loved it for embracing what it was. So, that was a tough one for me for Best Supporting Actor, though, because Christoph Waltz was just spectacular, but, to me, Leonardo DiCaprio was the stand-out - he didn't even get nominated, though! Oh, my gosh. He is one of my favorite actors in the entire world - he is just fabulous. I loved the film.

PC: You would be open to an onscreen collaboration, then?

RM: Oh, definitely. I love him.

PC: Also on the subject of showbiz lore: a stage show your fans would love to see you in would be FOLLIES. Have you been approached about appearing in it at any point in your career thus far?

RM: Yes. I have been asked several times to do FOLLIES, actually, but every time I have been asked I have unfortunately been working on something else at the time.

PC: Did you work directly with Hal Prince on SHE LOVES ME in England when you did it?

RM: Yes, I did get to work with Hal on that. Everyone who did it on Broadway originally went over to work on it in England, in terms of the production staff. So, everybody from New York went over to London to do it there - Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, Carol Hainey; all of them. They were trying to see if they could make it a hit - I mean, it was just this gorgeous little valentine of a play. But, it ended up not doing well in England either, unfortunately.

PC: What a shame.

RM: It was. I remember that it ran for about four or five months and then it closed and it just broke everybody's hearts. I just never understood why it never was that successful - it has such a wonderful score. The scenes just flow so naturally into the songs, too - and that's very, very rare.

PC: What were your favorite moments in the show to do? "Ice Cream"?

RM: Oh, well, I loved "Ice Cream" - of course. I also loved [Italian Accent. Sings] "A Romantic Atmosphere"! [Big Laugh.]

PC: What a memory!

RM: I also loved, [Sings.] "Charming / romantic / the perfect café..." which is "Dear Friend".

PC: Your voice is in fantastic shape, I must say. Going back a few years, I would have loved to see you in SUNSET BOULEVARD.

RM: Yes - I did SUNSET BOULEVARD in London.

PC: What was your experience like in that grand diva vehicle?

RM: Oh, I only did three months, but it was absolutely marvelous to do. Petula Clark had been playing the part for something like two years running and she desperately needed a holiday, so I replaced her. I had an absolutely wonderful time doing it.

PC: It's a fantastic show - and what a role!

RM: It is. One of the most fun things about doing it was getting to be friendly with the dancers - they were just so dear; lovely, lovely people. I was the first person who ever played Norma who invited them to a party in my dressing room, I guess - with drinks and everything; the orchestra, too! They were all absolutely stunned! They said, "No one has ever done this before!" And, I said, "Really? My God, I wouldn't have dreamed of not!"

PC: So you look back on it with only good memories?

RM: Well, of course, one thing I remember was that the girls were going to audition for WEST SIDE STORY - they were doing a revival there at the time - and they asked me to help them with the "America" steps and we just had a terrible time doing it! [Laughs.]

PC: They're not very easy moves, as you well know!

RM: I think that they are very American moves and those don't always come so easily to everyone - you have to learn them slowly, and with great difficulty.

PC: Who was your Joe in SUNSET?

RM: Oh, he was really good-looking fella - he looked like Bill Holden, too - Alexander Hanson. He was a doll.

PC: Did you have any difficulty navigating that score?

RM: Oh, well, there was one number that was a little tricky. "As If We Never Said Goodbye" was always great - I loved doing that number. There was another one that had a big note in there somewhere where you cross into your head voice, though - and that was just a beast to get right.

PC: Was the staircase a work-out?

RM: The staircase was a work-out, but the set that was really, really terrifying was the one at the beginning of the second act. I come in wearing a caftan and we are both supposed to be by the pool. They were the most dangerous steps on that set - I didn't have anything to hold onto and I am wearing this enormous caftan and very, very high heels. The steps themselves were very steep, very narrow and not very deep - very, very narrow. It was very, very scary. [Big Laugh.]

PC: So, Petula came back after you left?

RM: Yes, Petula returned after I was done with my three months.

PC: Is there any reason in particular you did not cover it in your book?

RM: Pat, I'll be honest: I didn't have the space! [Laughs.] I've done a lot of living!

PC: Another project I was curious about was the film of THE RITZ. Treat Williams said he enjoyed working with you on it when he recently did this column. Did you like it, too?

RM: Well, to be perfectly frank, I think they took a great play and basically ruined it. The director refused to see the play and I even brought him a track of our performances and the audience reactions we were getting and he listened to it for about ten minutes and then that was that.

PC: How horrible.

RM: Well, even worse than that and what really made me furious with him - not to speak of everyone else in the cast, too - was that he would say, "Ugh, all these words!" Because, you know, Richard Lester was really in the business of making pretty much silent movies - comedies. What's funny about the play by Terrence McNally, though, is the attitudes - and what makes them is the words. So, I just couldn't believe it. And, he put in a bunch of visual sight gags that he had to take out because they didn't fit.

PC: You feel it's a pretty pale imitation of the play, then?

RM: Yeah. I mean, this gives you an idea of the way that he saw this play: you know when Googie gets up to do her number, "Everything's Coming Up Roses"?

PC: Of course - a memorable moment in the piece.

RM: Right. Well, I begged him, "Please don't cut away - you have to keep it all in one." And, he said, "Why is that?" and I said, "Because you will kill the rhythm!" But, he cut back to them reacting anyway. He said, "Middle America is not gonna get it that you're supposed to be a bad singer." So, in the middle of the number, he saps all the energy out of it by cutting back to the character of Jack slapping his head in disbelief. The number didn't need that.

PC: What an unfortunate situation.

RM: You are just dead in the water with those type of people.

PC: One of the most touching movie memories in your book is your account of returning to a location overseas and you were greeted with signs and a huge celebration for your Oscar win.

RM: Oh, yes - wasn't that so sweet? That was so, so sweet of them to do that.

PC: The signs said, "You won for us," more or less, correct?

RM: Yes, the signs said, "Victory" in their native language. [Pronounces It.] I had won it for them.

PC: You were the first Latin woman to win an Oscar.

RM: Yes, the very first.

PC: There have not been many since, sad to say.

RM: You are right - and I think there is a reason for that.

PC: Why is that?

RM: I think that Latin actresses aren't often afforded the kind of roles that would even occasion a nomination. That's the reason, I think, really - and it's the same thing for the men; they haven't been given the right kind of roles to win.

PC: Benicio Del Toro in CHE and Javier Bardem in BIUTIFUL are two recent examples of phenomenal, but overlooked roles worthy of awards attention, as well.

RM: Yes, yes - that's true. Benicio Del Toro was just so, so great in that drug picture - TRAFFIC. Absolutely fabulous.

PC: Who are some of your favorite current performers - are you a fan of fellow Broadway/Hollywood crossover star Scarlett Johansson?

RM: Oh, I think Scarlett Johansson is a terrific actress. I think she's just marvelous. And, I must say, I love her passion for theatre and so I say, "Good for her! Yay!"

PC: Another: you and Mila Kunis bear a resemblance, I must say.

RM: What a face! Gorgeous. She's fabulous, too.

PC: I'm curious: what did you think of BLACK SWAN, from a performing arts point of view?

RM: Oh, I kind of liked it, actually! You know, every time they showed Natalie [Portman] as a dancer and it wasn't her - now, she is a fabulous actress who I admire enormously - but every time I saw her lift her arms a certain way in her dance I would just wince and mutter to myself, "Oh, no - not like that! No, no, no, Natalie!" [Laughs.]

PC: Not quite completely authentic in that department?

RM: Not quite - you know, there are specific kind of moves you learn in ballet that a non-dancer cannot know how to do; you cannot do those arms exactly right. Of course, no one is going to really know that except for me and other people who dance. But, that part of her performance did bother me - I thought her dancing was fine, but her arms were wrong. I thought that she was brave, so, "Good for her!" I say, but the arms were a problem for me.

PC: As a star of many of the greatest movie musicals, what do you think of the current 21st century crop?

RM: Well, I liked CHICAGO enormously - I just loved it.

PC: Did you enjoy the salute to movie musicals on the Oscars this year?

RM: Yeah, that was good. I will say that I did not like the end song that poor little Kristin [Chenoweth] had to sing, though! [Laughs.]

PC: Are you a fan of hers?

RM: Oh, Kristin? Yes, I am. I think she has just an extraordinary voice.

PC: You're not a fan of button-pushing comedy, I take it, though?

RM: I just think it can go too far sometimes. You know, I still believe in these awards shows - I really do. So, I feel like sometimes these hosts can be disrespectful - I just feel like I can't laugh at that. It bothers me. I think that's probably part of the reason Tommy Lee Jones at The Golden Globes was just glowering like that - the hosts not respecting the awards. That's my opinion.

PC: And a very valid one.

RM: I mean, what has this business come to, Pat, when you can't even respect the actors when you say, "And the nominees are...," and you make a comedy skit out of it every time. I just feel like it is disrespectful to these wonderful actors who deserve much better.

PC: The previous category winners presenting to the new nominees the way they did it when Bill Condon produced the Oscars was a stroke of genius, I thought.

RM: Yes, it was just wonderful - it was so elegant, I think.

PC: The "America" sequence in WEST SIDE STORY is certainly one of the most iconic in film history, now or ever - perhaps you could present again at the ceremony soon.

RM: I would love to appear - absolutely. I love being associated with WEST SIDE STORY, too.

PC: Having starred in such a groundbreaking work as WEST SIDE STORY, what do you think of the place of contemporary music on Broadway and in musicals in general - rap, specifically?

RM: Well, I am not a particular fan of rap but I think it has its place. I saw IN THE HEIGHTS and I thought it was just wonderful. Lin-Manuel Miranda - who is just so good and so talented - interviewed me on my press tour for this book and so many people showed up that we couldn't even seat everybody!

PC: How fantastic.

RM: Yes, it was a really, really great event! I was thrilled to pieces. I signed hundreds of copies. I felt so, so honored.

PC: Have you been enjoying your recent press tour promoting your book in general?

RM: Yes, and, I'll tell you what I enjoyed the most was Sirius - because you don't so much do interviews there as have conversations, do you know what I mean? I mean, with all due respect to commercial stations, they just don't have the time to do that, I suppose - to be fair to them. I had a fabulous time at NPR, as well. You know, as I said before, I am a first-time author, so all of this is new to me, but I have been having so much fun.

PC: In speaking of specifics from the book, the bizarre incident about your relationship with Kenneth Tynan is so fascinating - especially his penchant for spanking.

RM: Isn't it bizarre?! That's a very good word for it. I think it's pretty hilarious, too! [Laughs.]

PC: That, as well. The quote from his ex-wife about her "disgrace" was very revealing.

RM: Yeah, yeah - he had this book of women being spanked with all these little captions underneath. I remember looking at it and thinking, "What am I looking at here?!" You have to remember, he was the dramaturg for the National Theatre at the time - that's when I met him. So, he used to take me to the rehearsals and all of that...

PC: LOOK BACK IN ANGER and many, many more, correct?

RM: Yes. One I remember in particular was Shakespeare's OTHELLO with Laurence Olivier.

PC: Wow. Olivier?

RM: Not only Olivier, Olivier rehearsing! [Laughs.]

PC: Do you find performing on Broadway versus the West End marketedly different?

RM: Yes. They are very different.

PC: How so? The audiences are less vocal in the UK, perhaps?

RM: The audiences are very, very drastically different - you never get standing ovations over there. I got them when I was doing SUNSET BOULEVARD over there, actually, but I was told that that was very unusual.

PC: If any role earns a standing O by the final curtain it is Norma Desmond, right?

RM: Absolutely! Absolutely.

PC: Do you think ticket prices are prohibitive these days?

RM: Oh, my God! I don't know how people can afford it! I really don't. I mean, imagine paying all that money - which, for most people is a whole lot of money - and then hating the show!

PC: A risky gamble.

RM: What a horrible disappointment that would be! For instance, I recently went to see some shows - I really try to cram in as many shows as possible when I come here - and I saw some things I thought were good and something I just loved was the new David Shiner show with Nellie McKay, OLD HATS.

PC: Nellie McKay is so smart and talented - and kind - isn't she?

RM: Oh, Nellie is such a doll - she came to Barnes & Noble to see me! I couldn't believe it. She came to the book signing! She is a fan of mine and I was just so touched - boy, do I like her! She was wonderful in the show, as well, I though.

PC: A somewhat lesser-known but strong film of yours is PAGAN LOVE SONG. Tell me, on set was Esther Williams enjoyable as she comes across onscreen?

RM: Oh, yes - Esther Williams was very nice to me. She was just so devoted to gossip, though! She loved the gossip. All the time.

PC: Speaking of which, the Ann Miller stories in your book are absolutely unreal - especially your first encounter! Did she really swear like that?!

RM: Oh, I'll never forget it! I was mortified! It shocked me so much - I never had heard a woman say those words! [Laughs.]

PC: She was a pioneer in more ways than one, apparently!

RM: I had barely heard a man say those words - and, there is Ann Miller with the F-bombs! [Big Laugh.]

PC: What an awesome memory.

RM: It was unbelievable! My eyes almost popped out of my head!

PC: Harry Cohn's starlet party is a chilling moment in the book - what a shameful part of Hollywood history.

RM: How about that cocktail party? Wasn't that something? Terrible.

PC: He was so influential. too - and so nonchalant in his devilry, apparently.

RM: He was. That was not a pleasant experience in any way. Of course, the irony of all that was that the Hispanic men were the only gentlemen that I met that night - the gardeners.

PC: They rescued you and brought you home without saying a word.

RM: Nothing - not a word. They had seen it before. They knew, I guess.

PC: What can you tell me about a new film of yours coming out soon, NICKY DEUCE?

RM: Oh, NICKY DEUCE - I keep forgetting about that. I didn't even know that it was finally being released - that's good to hear. It was a lot of fun to do that - they are such darling and cordial gentlemen; all those SOPRANOS guys who were in that with me. They are so much fun to talk to - that's who I hung out with onset most of the time. So, it's a show for pre-teens, it's nothing too dramatic or anything, but I had a lot of fun doing it - I did it for my grandchildren, who are 14 and 12.

PC: There are some great photographs of you and your family in the book.

RM: Oh, thank you so much. Actually, speaking of tough guys, I had a book party recently and all the OZ guys came...

PC: Many Broadway leading ladies happened to appear on OZ besides yourself, of course.

RM: Yes, I think all the Normas did it at one point or another - Patti [LuPone], Betty Buckley and me all did it. But, anyway, at that same party, Sonia Sotomayor came...

PC: No way!

RM: Yes. You see, I did the audio book of her book for her. I was the one she wanted to do it - she asked me personally; she called me at home one day and so we had lunch - my daughter, Sonia and I.

PC: That must have been so exciting.

RM: Oh, it was. She asked me to do it and I said, "I would absolutely love to, but I don't know if I can," because we were doing Happily Divorced at the time, but it worked out that I was able to do it after all and I am honored to have done it. It was a total privelege.

PC: As was this today - a privelege in every way! Thank you so much, Ms. Moreno.

RM: Thank you so much, too, Pat. This was a lot of fun. Bye bye.

Photo Credits: Walter McBride, Life, Dewynters, etc.

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Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)