Legendary performer Rita Moreno was interviewed for the Interstate
Documentary Project while she was in Houston to appear
in a lecture series called Unique Lives & Experiences presented
at Jones Hall.
Ms. Moreno, best known for her academy award winning role in
West Side Story, is the only performer to have won all
four of the most prestigious show business awards, an Oscar, Emmy
(2), Grammy, and Tony Award. Most recently, Ms. Moreno has appeared
in the HBO series OZ and the PBS series American Family.
Rita Moreno was also instrumental in saving the Interstate Plaza
Theatre in El Paso from the wrecking ball in 1985. She volunteered
to headline a fundraiser in the theater that was able to raise
over one million dollars. The money went to purchasing the building
and repair its roof, so that the city would have more time to
raise full restoration funds.
Ms. Moreno spoke
for the documentary about her love of historic theaters and her
remembrances of attending movie performances in the early days
of the grand movie palaces in New York City. She recounted that
the show would often begin with a newsreel, a short subject, the
movie, and then a stage act like the comedy team of Martin &
Lewis (that's Dean & Jerry)... before they had ever been in
a movie. She reminded us that long before there were comedy clubs,
it was the movie theaters that were the training grounds and only
venues for stand-up comedians.
In fact, Bob Hope got his start in show business, not on the
silver screen, but on the stages of the Interstate Theatres Circuit
as a stand-up comic.