Remembering Chita Rivera, Dear Friend and Broadway Cares Trustee

Chita Rivera was a legendary talent and a dear friend to all lucky enough and blessed to share the stage with her. But beyond her brilliance in the spotlight, she was a fierce advocate, a beloved “mama bear” not to be trifled with when it came to those she welcomed into her sweet, kind and fiery heart. She radiated a boundless, no-nonsense generosity of spirit that will be deeply missed.

“Chita was one of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ most loyal friends and staunchest of advocates,” Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola said. “She stood up for her family of friends and colleagues across Broadway and beyond when to do so was to risk the wrath of those willing to ignore the heartbreak of those considered less-than for how they expressed their love and affections. From our earliest days she set the example for what it means to show up in solidarity and determination for each other in times of crisis.”

A Broadway Cares Trustee for more than 20 years, Chita brought the joy, stepping up for us all again and again.  She made appeals from the stage, leading her castmates in signing thousands of posters and Playbills at Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Visit, and the revivals of Nine and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. She graced the stage at our Easter Bonnet Competition and Red Bucket Follies, in performance or happily announcing fundraising winners.

In 2013, Chita took over the August Wilson Theatre in honor of her 80th birthday in a powerhouse, unforgettable – now legendary – evening that raised more than $400,000 for Broadway Cares. She did so again when this magical evening was aired in 2020 as an online fundraiser. The concert video, shared during the darkest days of the COVID pandemic and industry shut down, included special commentary and an emergency appeal by Chita herself, who was as triumphant streaming as she was onstage. 

As fans, we will be forever grateful to Chita for creating some of theater’s most fearless, unforgettable roles. As friends, we will be forever thankful to her for lending her time, talent, goodwill and extraordinarily gracious heart to make the days a little bit brighter for those less fortunate, daring us to be our best by sharing, as she did, what matters most: our hearts.

Read about her remarkable life from The New York Times

Photo by Monica Simoes