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Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno

The 14th Annual Burian Lecture
Sponsored by the Department of Theatre
and Co-sponsored by the NYS Writers Institute


NYS Writers Institute,October 7, 2009
The Burian Lecture: "Working on Stage, Film and TV"
8:00 p.m. Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus


Rita Moreno, past winner of all four of the most prestigious awards in show business—the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy—will speak about her life on stage, screen and television as part of the 14th Annual Burian Lecture at UAlbany on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Page Hall on the University at Albany’s downtown campus. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany’s Department of Theatre, and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment.

Rita Moreno
is the past winner of all four of the most prestigious awards in show business: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony and the Grammy. The Puerto Rico-born performer is the first and only Hispanic, the second female, and the third person in history to achieve that honor. Moreno was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. She received a star on Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame” in 1995.

The daughter of a seamstress and a farmer, Moreno emigrated to New York City with her mother at the age of five. By age 11, she had found work dubbing American films into Spanish. At 13, she appeared for the first time on Broadway in the wartime play “Skydrift” (1945). In 1952, she received a small role in the movie “Singin’ in the Rain” as the silent screen vamp, Zelda Zanners. She also played the captive Burmese wife Tuptim in the film version of “The King and I” (1956).

Rita MorenoMoreno received an Oscar for her role as Anita in the film version of “West Side Story” (1962). Other notable film appearances include “The Night of the Following Day” (1968), and “Carnal Knowledge” (1971). In 2000, she starred opposite Ben Gazzara in “Blue Moon,” the story of an aging couple that attempts to rekindle romance at their favorite Catskill retreat after forty years of marriage. [NOTE: The Writers Institute will screen “Blue Moon” on Friday, October 2, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall on the UAlbany downtown campus. Free and open to the public.]

Moreno received the Tony for her Broadway performance as Googie Gomez in “The Ritz” in 1973. Other Broadway credits include “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” (1969-71), and the female version of “The Odd Couple” (opposite Sally Struthers), which enjoyed a run of 295 performances (1985-86).

Moreno received an Emmy award in 1976 for “Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music” for her comic delivery of the R&B song “Fever” on “The Muppet Show.” She received a second Emmy in 1978 for “Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series” for an appearance on “The Rockford Files.” Moreno also earned three Daytime Emmy nominations for her voice acting in the title role of the PBS animated children’s series, “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?” (1994-1998).

Rita MorenoWith an original cast that included Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman, Moreno starred as Carmela in 780 episodes of the PBS children’s program “The Electric Company” (1971-1977), and received a Grammy Award for her work on the “Electric Company Album” in 1972. She is perhaps best-remembered for shouting the show’s familiar catchphrase, “Hey you guys!”

Moreno continues to enjoy an active career in television. From 1997 to 2003, she appeared in 52 episodes of “Oz,” the HBO prison drama, as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo. More recently, she appeared as Amalia Duque in 13 episodes of ABC’s Latino family drama, “Cane.” Other TV series appearances include episodes of “Law & Order,” “Ugly Betty,” “George Lopez,” and “The Guardian.”
Rita Moreno will deliver the 14th Annual Burian Lecture, a yearly event that brings leading scholars and practitioners of the art of the theatre to the Albany campus. It is funded by Jarka and Grayce Susan Burian Endowment.

The late Jarka Burian taught in the Theatre Department at UAlbany from 1955 to 1993. He was the leading American scholar of Czech theatre and author of the award-winning book “The Scenography of Josef Svoboda,” a seminal critical study of the work of one of the twentieth century’s most influential theatrical designers. Grayce Susan Burian, who received her M.A. degree from UAlbany and also taught there, is best known for her long tenure as the director of the theatre program, which she founded, at Schenectady Community College.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.