Skip to main content

Rita Moreno has had a long and impressive career. She’s won many awards during her years on the screen and stage. Along the way, she’s also had a few notable romances

One of these relationships was with troubled actor Marlon Brando. Like many of his affairs, it wasn’t always healthy, and his behavior left Moreno unhappy. But she found an unusual way to get back at him. 

The legendary Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno onstage during the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Rita Moreno | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

According to IMDb, Moreno moved to New York from Puerto Rico when she was six. By the time she was 11, she was already working as a performer. She was paid to dub lines for Spanish versions of US movies.

A month before she turned 14, she made her Broadway debut, co-starring in the play Skydrift. Moreno was already on her way to the top, and her career would prove how talented she is.

She’s one of a tiny number of performers to have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. Despite a lack of roles in the era for actors who were considered “exotic,” Moreno made a name for herself in plays such as The Ritz, movies like West Side Story, and even TV shows such as The Muppets

Her career has been long and impressive, and it’s not over yet. She recently had a role in the popular sitcom One Day at a TimeAlong the way, she’s not only collected awards and acclaim, but also a few hearts.

Her love affair with Marlon Brando

In Style reports that when Moreno was 22, Brando saw her on the cover of a magazine, and he wanted to meet her. When they did meet, she had a similar reaction to him, and the two started dating. 

“From the moment we met, I felt that a web had been spun between us, drawing me to Marlon,” she explained. “Amazingly, he felt the same way, and made no secret about it.”

Their relationship went on for eight years, even as Brando dated other women and got married twice. Moreno wanted Brando to marry her, but he wasn’t interested. He reportedly went to great lengths to keep their relationship a secret.

She was deeply hurt that he dated other women. Then one day an opportunity to get back at him called her on the phone. 

A phone call from Colonel Parker


It’s About Time For The Rita Moreno Documentary, According to co-star Justina Machado

According to Esquire, one day Moreno found lingerie belonging to another woman in Brando’s home. As she struggled with this new betrayal, she got a phone call from Elvis Presley’s manager.

She recounted: “Literally the next day, I get a phone call. ‘Rita Moreno? This is Colonel Parker. My client spotted you in the 20th Century Fox commissary. He’d like very much to meet you.'”

Moreno knew that Brando would be jealous if she went out with Presley, so she agreed to meet him. They went out a few times, and although she didn’t find the singer very interesting, the relationship had the desired effect on Brando. 

“Marlon found out about it, and boy, was he upset,” she said. “Mind you, he’s the one who had the ladies’ underwear at his house. He got insanely angry. He was throwing chairs, and it was wonderful.”

Ultimately, the love affair between Moreno and Brando ended when she got pregnant. Instead of marrying her as she hoped, he paid for an illegal abortion. Yet despite the unhealthy and painful parts of their relationship, she still remembers him fondly, even 67 years after they met.