One-sheet poster for West Side Story, designed by Joseph Caroff, released in October, 1961.
 
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West Side Story
Footprinting Ceremony
held on Thursday, November 15, 2011
 
West Side Story
World Premiere, Wednesday, October 18, 1961, at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City, New York
 
West Side Story continues to endure as one of the high points of American filmmaking. Taken from an exciting musical play with brilliant music by Leonard Bernstien, the movie is a total transportational experience, with color, dance, characterizations, drama and a crushing finish.

While West Side Story didn't have its World Premiere at the Chinese, it did have its West Coast premiere there on Wednesday, December 13, 196, where it proceed to play for 57 weeks hardticket.

The Forecourt ceremony honoring Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn was occasioned by the Blu-Ray release of the film, timed to coniscide with the films 50th Anniversary.
 
 
Caption TK.
   
Rita Moreno as Anita in West Side Story, released in October, 1961.
 
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Rita Moreno
 
Born: Rosa Dolores Alverio, December 11, 1931, in Humacao, Puerto Rico
Age at the time of the ceremony: 79

 
Rita Moreno's mother was a seamstress, who, with young Rita, relocated to New York City in 1936. Remarried to Edward Moreno, the family settled in Valley Stream on Long Island. Rita began her showbiz career with dancing lessons, while providing Spanish voice-overs for the studios in New York.

Appearing on Broadway in a show called Skydrift brought her into the orbit of Hollywood, where she made her film debut as a student in the girl's school drama So Young So Bad (released in May 1950) with Paul Henreid. Although she had lots of work playing "exotics" she had the small role of Zelda Zanders in Singin' in the Rain (released in April 1952) with Gene Kelly.

Despite objecting to her roles in these films, she was becoming a "name"; she got second billing under James Craig in Fort Vengeance (released in March 1953). After appearing in Life magazine, Moreno was featured on the posters for The Yellow Tomahawk (released in May 1954) with Rory Calhoun.

Moreno's greatest early role came from playing Tuptim in The King and I (which played the Chinese in June 1956) with Yul Brynner. After that, it was back to television, where she played five different characters on five different episodes of s show Climax! aired on CBS from 1956 to 1958, and played Chulita in some "Zorro" storylines on The Magical World of Disney aired over ABC in November 1960.

Moreno played a supporting role in the film of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke (released in November 1961) with Laurence Harvey, but it was her turn as Anita in the film of West Side Story (which played the Chinese in December 1961) with Natalie Wood, which really made Moreno's reputation, winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Where can you go after West Side Story? During the 1960s, she did some television: Ed Sullivan, Burke's Law, Run for Your Life and so on, but she spent much of the decade on the stage.

On Broadway, Moreno took over the role of Elaine from Linda Lavin in Neil Simon's The Last of the Red Hot Lovers in 1970. It is unclear how many performances she appeared in before the show closed in September of 1971. Also that month saw the release of Carnal Knowledge (released in September 1971) with Jack Nicholson; Moreno has a role in a sort of "epilog" to the film.

Rita Moreno appeared in all 780 episodes of The Electric Company along with Morgan Freeman, aired over PBS from October 1971 to April 1977. In 1972, she did tracks for the show's first album, for which, she won a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children.

At night, Moreno starred on Broadway in the farce, The Ritz, for 400 performances, from January 1875 to January 1976. She won a Tony Award for the play. The Ritz (released in August 1976) was transferred to the screen with the original Broadway cast of Jack Waston and Jerry Stiller by director Richard Lester.

She won an Emmy in 1978 for her guesting on three episodes of The Rockford Files, aired over NBC in January 1978. She played a painter married to Jack Weston in The Four Seasons (released in May 1981) with Alan Alda (who wrote and directed), and she starred as Violet Newstead in 33 episodes of Nine to Five aired over ABC from March 1982 to October 1983.

She appeared on Broadway as "Olive Madison" in a female version of The Odd Couple with Sally Struthers as "Florence Unger" from June to November 1985. Moreno toured extensively with this show.

Moreno took a small part in the comedy drama I Like It Like That (released in October 1994) with Luna Lauren Velez and Angus (released in September 1995) with Charlie Talbert. She played Carl Reiner's wife in the comedy The Slums of Beverly Hills (released in September 1998) with Alan Arkin.

Moreno starred as the title character for 39 episodes of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? aired over the Fox Network from February 1994 to January 1999, then played Sister Peter Marie for 55 episodes of Oz aired over HBO from July 1997 to February 2003. She also appeared in director John Sayles' Casa de los Babys (released in September 2003) with Maggie Gyllenhaal.

In 2004, Rita Moreno was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented to her by U.S. president George W. Bush. She played Fran Drescher's mother for 34 episodes of Happily Divorced aired over TV Land from June 2011 to February 2013. She took a role in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (released in December 2014) with Gena Rowlands.

Moreno did the voice of Abuelita for 78 episodes of Nina's World aired over PBS from September 2015 to July 2018, and plays Justina Machado's mother, named, get this — Lydia Margarita del Carmen Inclán Maribona Leyte-Vidal de Riera — for 39 episodes of One Day at a Time streaming over Netflix beginning in January 2017. The show has been cancelled, but they are shopping it around. Who knows?
   
George Chakiris as Bernardo in West Side Story, released in October, 1961.
 
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George Chakiris
 
Born: September 16, 1934, in Norwood, Ohio
Age at the time of the ceremony: 77
 
George Chakiris is the son of Greek immigrants. Born in Ohio, he grew up in Tucson, Arizona and Long Beach, California. While in college, he committed to his love of dance. He moved to Hollywood and worked a day job in advertising while studying dance at night.

His first film was as a chiorboy in Song of Love (released in October 1947) with Katherine Hepburn as Clara Schumann. Chakiris got a number of gigs as a dancer during this time: The Great Caruso (released in May 1951) with Mario Lanza, Stars and Stripes Forever (which played the Chinese in December 1952) with Clifton Webb, Call Me Madam (released in April 1953) with Ethel Merman, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (released in July 1953) with Peter Lind Hayes, Gentlemen Perfer Blondes (which played the Chinese in July 1953) with Marilyn Monroe, and Brigadoon (released in September 1954) with Gene Kelly.

Chakiris got the attention of the Paramount brass in White Christmas (released in October 1954) with Bing Crosby, so they signed him to a contract, putting him in The Country Girl (released in May 1955) with Bing Crosby, and loaning him out to other studios for things like There's No Business Like Show Business (which played the Chinese in December 1954) with Ethel Merman.

Frustrated, Chakiris went to New York and threw himself in the way of director / choreographer Jerome Robbins, whose West Side Story had already opened on Broadway. Impressed with the strapping lad, Robbins cast Chakiris as Riff (!) in the London production of the musical in late 1958; he stayed with the show for 22 months.

When it came time for the film version, Chakiris was brought over to play Bernardo, head of the Sharks gang in West Side Story (which played the Chinese in December 1961) with Natalie Wood. Chakiris won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the film.

Meanwhile, he headlined for first-time director Freddie Francis in Two and Two Make Six (released in May 1962) with Janette Scott. After his Oscar win, Chakiris was offered a three-picture deal with the Mirisch brothers, where he did not dance; he was in a number of films about World War II, like Flight from Ashiya (released in March 1964) with Yul Brynner, and 633 Squadron (released in June 1964) with Cliff Robertson and Is Paris Burning? (released in October 1966) with Jean-Paul Belmondo. While in Europe, Chakiris had a role in the musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort - The Young Girls of Rochefort (released in with Catherine Deneuve.

Chakiris has done a lot of television: The Ed Sullivan Show, Hawaii Five-O, The Partridge Family, Medical Center, Fantasy Island. . . he played composer Frédéric Chopin in Nortorious Woman with Rosemary Harris as George Sand (and Jeremy Irons as Franz Liszt!) aired over the BBC in November 1974 and over PBS in November 1975.

Chakiris guested as Nicholas for 11 episodes of Dallas aired over CBS in March 1986, and starred as a vampire in Pale Blood (released in October 1990) with Wings Hauser. His final performance before retiring was guesting on Last of the Summer Wine with Bill Owen aired over the BBC in December 1996.

Since then, Chakiris has been making and selling sterling silver jewlery. He has also fallen in with the Supreme Master Ching Hai, and her musical Loving the Silent Tears.
   
Russ Tamblyn as Riff in West Side Story, released in October, 1961.
 
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Russ Tamblyn
 
Born: December 30, 1934, in Los Angeles, California
Age at the time of the ceremony: 76
 
Russ Tamblyn just couldn't help it: both of his parents were actors. Energetic and full of piss and vinegar, at a young age Russ performed tumbling and gymnastics during the intermissions at the local movie theatre. Developing his skills in singing and dancing, he was discovered by actor Lloyd Bridges, and made his first film as an extra in The Boy with Green Hair (released in November 1948) with Pat O'Brien.

After a few more roles, he played a young Saul in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (released in December 1949) with Hedy Lamarr. In a more noirish vein, Tamblyn played the 14 year-old version of Bart Tare, hero of Gun Crazy (released in January 1950) with Peggy Cummins; he played Elizabeth Taylor's little brother in Father of the Bride (released in June 1950) with Spencer Tracy.

Tamblyn was signed to a contract at M-G-M, where he excelled as
Gideon Pontipee, the youngest of the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (released in August 1954) with Jane Powell; he played Powell's brother in Hit the Deck (released in March 1955) with Debbie Reynolds, he played a dancing villager in the surprisingly good western The Fastest Gun Alive (released in July 1956) with Glenn Ford.

Tamblyn was loaned out to play Diane Varsi's boyfriend Norman Page in Payton Place (released in December 1957) with Lana Turner, while at the home studio, he got top billing in High School Confidential! (released in June 1958) with Jan Sterling. for director George Pal, Tamblyn played the title role in Tom Thumb (released in December 1958) with Alan Young.

Tamblyn was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958 and had to do his two years. When he came out, M-G-M had him play
The Cherokee Kid in their remake of Cimarron (released in December 1960) with Glen Ford.

Looking to play the part of Tony, Tamblyn impressed the daylights out of director Robert Wise, who decided he would make a better Riff in West Side Story (which played the Chinese in December 1961) with Natalie Wood.

Tamblyn is unique in being the only actor to appear in both the M-G-M 3-strip Cinerama films reprising his role of Tom Thumb in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (released in August 1962) with Laurence Harvey as Wilhelm Grimm, and playing a Confereate deserter in How the West Was Won (released in February 1963) with the proverbial All-Star Cast.

Robert Wise insisted Tamblyn play a major role in his chiller
The Haunting (released in August 1963) with Julie Harris, but Russ refused it at first. M-G-M threatened him with suspension; suddenly the part looked interesting. It is one of Tamblyn's favourites.

He played a Viking in The Long Ships (released in June 1964) with Richard Widmark, then went to Japan to star in Furankenshutain no Kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira - The War of the Gargantuas (released in July 1966) with Kumi Mizuno, but this was not a happy experience; he insisted on being billed as Rasu Tanburin for the release of the picture. His correct name appears on almost all of the posters we've seen — so sorry!

Tamblyn tagged along for Dennis Hopper's Peruvian debacle The Last Movie (released in August 1971) with Julie Adams, and was going further into exploitation territory for Dracula vs. Frankenstein (released in December 1971) with J. Carrol Naish. Tamblyn then became a cast member and choreographer on Human Highway (released in September 1982) with Neil Young (who also wrote and directed).

Director David Lynch cast Tamblyn as super-creepy
Dr. Lawrence Jacoby for 16 episodes of Twin Peaks with Kyle MacLachlan aired over ABC in April 1990. He played a Viking / shark (?) in Cabin Boy (released in January 1994) with Chris Elliott, and played a gas station attendant in Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (released direct to video in May 2001) with J.J. North.

Tamblyn took the small role of Ed Morse in a television version of Inherit the Wind with Jack Lemmon aired over Showtime in May 1999. Tamblyn spent much of the 2000s struggling with his addictions; he has commented on being in rehab and having them show West Side Story. . .

He has played Billy the Cheesegrater for nine episodes of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret aired over More4 and streaming on Netflix, beginning in October 2010, took a supporting role in Drive (released in September 2011) with Ryan Gosling, and was tapped by director Quentin Tarantino as Son of a Gunfighter in Django Unchained (released in December 2012) with Jamie Foxx.

Tamblyn came back for six episodes as Dr. Jacoby on the continuation of Twin Peaks aired over Showtime in May 2017.
 
 
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. West Side Story ceremony, Thursday, November 15, 2011. From left to right: George Chakiris, Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn show off their dirty hands.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. West Side Story ceremony, Thursday, November 15, 2011. From left to right: George Chakiris, Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn strike a dance pose.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. West Side Story ceremony, Thursday, November 15, 2011. From left to right: George Chakiris, Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn press their hands into the wet cement.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. West Side Story ceremony, Thursday, November 15, 2011. George Chakiris holds onto Rita Moreno as she makes her big impression.
 
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