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Broadway's 'first great triple threat,' Chita Rivera, dies at 91

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Chita Rivera has died. The Tony Award winner was 91.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Rivera played Anita in the original 1957 Broadway production of "West Side Story."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

CHITA RIVERA: (Singing) I like the island Manhattan.

INSKEEP: As I do too. Chita Rivera was her stage name. Growing up in Washington, D.C., she was known as...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RIVERA: Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero.

FADEL: She spoke with NPR's Susan Stamberg last year. Rivera described her start in ballet and how she moved to Broadway. She was influenced by the dancer Jerome Robbins, who directed and choreographed "West Side Story."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RIVERA: He mixed a little bit of jazz in there - a twist of the hip, a twist of the leg.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN'S "DANCE AT THE GYM")

INSKEEP: Rivera's voice and steps also stood out in "Chicago," "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Kiss Of The Spider Woman."

(SOUNDBITE OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN'S "DANCE AT THE GYM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.