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Catherine Zeta-Jones leads personal tributes to Chita Rivera following Broadway icon's death at 91

Rivera originated prominent roles in West Side Story, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and more

Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas and Chita Rivera pose backstage at Chita Rivera...And Now I Swing at the Birdland Jazz Club on October 15, 2009 in New York City.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
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Broadway is in mourning following the passing of one of their brightest stars, Chita Rivera, on January 30 at the age of 91. Her death was announced by her daughter Lisa Mordente and her publicist, although a specific cause of death has not been revealed.

The star was known for originating some of the most iconic roles on Broadway, including Rose in Bye Bye Birdie, Anita in West Side Story, Velma Kelly in Chicago, the title role in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and much more.

Throughout her career, she received two Tony Awards (plus a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018), two Drama Desk Awards, and became the first Latin American to receive the Kennedy Center Honor in 2002, and then the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Chita Rivera accepts the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre onstage during the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2018 in New York City.© Getty Images
Chita Rivera passed away at the age of 91 on January 30

Several prominent stars of the stage and screen have paid tribute to the late icon. Catherine Zeta-Jones was one of the first to share her words for Rivera.

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Catherine played the role of Velma Kelly in the 2002 musical film version of the Broadway show, which ultimately nabbed her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Scene from the Broadway musical "West Side Story," L-R: Lynn Ross, unnamed actress, Chita Rivera, and Carmen Guitterez. Undated photo.© Getty Images
The Broadway legend was known primarily for her roles in "West Side Story," "Chicago," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and many more

Alongside several photos of Rivera during her career, Catherine wrote: "Chita Rivera… There are no words to tell you what an incredible impact you have had on my life. 

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"From dreaming of being you as a little girl, then meeting you and then being deeply connected to you by playing the one and only Velma Kelly in Chicago. There will never, ever, be anyone like you Chita, ever." 

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She passionately concluded: "Dim the lights on Broadway! Or, may I suggest, we just [pull] the plug. I love you Chita, sleep tight my Queen."

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Fellow Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth tweeted: "Chita, there was only you. Then everyone else. I looked up to you and always will admire you as a talent and mostly as a person! A kick butt woman you were. All the rest of us just wanna be you. RIP CHITA."

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Rita Wilson, who made her Broadway debut playing Roxie Hart in a 2006 revival of Chicago, took to Instagram to share a photo herself with Rivera, and penned alongside it: "A true legend. A professional. An artist. Kind."

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She continued: "At the anniversary of Chicago the Musical we shared a dressing room at a hotel nearby. She made me feel as if I belonged in that space with her, and on stage in Chicago. Her love of her art was so present. She had so much gratitude for being able to do the 'job' she loved and was meant to do. 

Rita Wilson poses for a backstage photo with Chita Rivera© Instagram
Rita Wilson shared a backstage photo as a tribute to Rivera

"Seeing her on stage was as if a diamond magnet appeared, gently pulling you to her, not blinded by her light but enveloped, unable to look anywhere else but at her. I am grateful to have known her for a brief time. May her memory be eternal."

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Mia Farrow also took to Twitter to write: "Chita Rivera was an authentic Broadway icon – a dazzling actress, singer and dancer. No one who was fortunate enough to have seen any of her performances, will ever forget the experience. She gave us so much. Thank you to the magnificent, irreplaceable Chita Rivera."

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