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Happily Divorced

Rita Moreno

Dori Newman

Rita Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, a small town near the famous rainforest of Puerto Rico. When she was five, Moreno and her mother moved to New York, where Moreno started dance lessons. At 13 she made her Broadway debut in “Skydrift,” which starred Eli Wallach. When Moreno was 17, a talent scout arranged a meeting for her with Louis B. Mayer, and she was signed to a contract with MGM.

From that point on, Moreno’s career advanced steadily. She made some thirty films early in her career, and worked with Richard Widmark, Esther Williams, Mario Lanza, Susan Hayward, Tyrone Power and Gary Cooper. She appeared in the iconic Singin’ in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, and she played Tuptim in the classic movie version of The King and I with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. Moreno finally earned recognition as a major talent when she won the Academy Award for her outstanding performance as Anita in the film West Side Story.

Moreno has been in several live theater productions and has won major accolades for that work. She received a Tony Award nomination for her role in “The National Health” in 1974, and she won the Tony the following year for her starring role in “The Ritz.” Moreno was most recently seen on Broadway in the female version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” In 2006 she received similar acclaim for her portrayal of Amanda Wingfield in The Berkeley Repertory production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

Moreno has also appeared in many films and TV shows. Her movie credits include The Night of the Following Day (with Marlon Brando), Marlowe, Popi, Carnal Knowledge, The Four Seasons and I Like it Like That. She made regular appearances on the acclaimed children’s television series The Electric Company as well as B.L. Stryker and Cosby Mystery Series. She also had starring roles in 9 to 5, Cane and HBO’s OZ.

Moreno performs in concerts across the country and as a guest artist with symphony orchestras. In 1993 she performed at President Clinton’s inauguration and at the White House. In 2002 she appeared as the guest artist with the San Francisco Symphony in a production of “Candide.” More recently, Moreno performed in cabaret theatre, which has earned her great critical success.

Moreno is one of only eight living performers who has achieved entertainment’s grand slam, having won all four of the most prestigious show business awards: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony and the Grammy. She won the Oscar for her performance as Anita in the 1961 motion picture West Side Story. That role also earned her a Golden Globe. She received two Emmys: one for her 1977 variety appearance on The Muppet Show and one for her 1978 dramatic guest appearance on The Rockford Files. The Tony was for her 1973 triumph on Broadway as Googie Gomez in The Ritz. The Grammy was for her 1972 performance on The Electric Company Album for children, which was based on the long-running television show of the same name.

Moreno has served on The National Endowment for the Arts and as a Commissioner for The President’s White House Fellowships. She has also served as a member of The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. At a White House ceremony in June 2004, Moreno received The Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. The medal is the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian and ranks second only to The Congressional Medal of Honor as the nation’s highest award. It is conferred on individuals for a lifetime of meritorious service.

In 1995, Moreno was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2007, she was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2010 President Barack Obama awarded her The National Medal of Arts, and she received the Here I Stand Award for activism in the arts and the HOLA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Beginning in June 2011, Moreno stars alongside Fran Drescher in Happily Divorced, the new TV Land original sitcom. Moreno plays Drescher’s TV mother, Dori.

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Character Bio

After living her whole life in Queens, NY, Dori Newman and her husband Glen retired to Encino to be close to Fran and their “son” Peter. Dori is Fran’s go-to person for advice, although her sharp words of wisdom can sometimes be misinterpreted as critical. Dori loves her daughter very deeply and wants her to be happy… especially if being happy involves getting remarried and finally giving Dori grandchildren.