Chita Rivera

Birth Name: Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero Anderson

Date of Birth: January 23, 1933

Place of Birth: Washington, D.C., U.S.

Date of Death: January 30, 2024

Place of Death: New York City, New York, U.S.

*father – Puerto Rican [Spanish, possibly other]
*mother – Scottish, Irish, African-American

Chita Rivera was an American actress, singer, and dancer. A three-time Tony Award winner, she was known for her work on stage, primarily as Anita in West Side Story, Velma Kelly in Chicago, and the title character of Kiss of the Spider Woman; all roles she originated. She appeared in the films Sweet Charity and Kalamazoo?, and on television’s The New Dick Van Dyke Show and One Life to Live. She was considered the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Chita was the daughter of Katherine Rosalia (Anderson), a government clerk, and Pedro Julio Figueroa del Rivero, a clarinetist and saxophonist for the U.S. Navy Band. Her father was Puerto Rican, from Naguabo. Her mother was born in Washington, D.C., of Scottish, Irish, and African-American ancestry. Her mother worked at the Pentagon.

Chita had a daughter, actress, singer, and dancer Lisa Mordente, with her former husband, dancer, choreographer, actor, and television director Tony Mordente.

Chita’s paternal grandfather was Modesto Figueroa Maldonado (the son of Pedro Figueroa and Maria Del Rosado/Rosario Maldonado). Modesto was born in Yabucoa.

Chita’s paternal grandmother was Aurora del Rivero Quiñones (the daughter of Atanacio de La Cruz Del Rivero Vergara and Isabel Quiñones Sánchez). Aurora was born in Naguabo. Atanacio was the son of José Ramón Del Rivero, who was born in Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, and of Tomasa Vergara. Isabel was the daughter of Manuel Quiñones Rivera and Concepción Sánchez.

Chita’s maternal grandfather was named Robert Farrington Anderson (the son of Sampson Anderson and Jane “Jinny”).

Chita’s maternal grandmother was named Sarah H. “Sallie” Rand. Sarah was born in North Carolina.

She had said:

While I knew about my father’s Puerto Rican heritage, I uncovered a secret on my mother’s side while researching my family history for the memoir: My maternal grandparents were mulatto, mixed-race descendants of the once enslaved. I wished I’d known earlier – it might have deepened my connection with my Black friends and colleagues, especially my onetime love Sammy Davis Jr.

Sources: Genealogies of Chita Rivera –

5 Responses

  1. abcz1239 says:

    Puerto Rican is not an ethnicity. No nationality in the Americas represents an ethnicity.

  2. Mr. Postman says:

    Here’s an online source where she states her maternal grandparents were African-American:

  3. sadesdaughter says:

    According to her memoir released this year, her maternal grandparents (Sarah “Sallie” Rand and Robert Anderson) were listed as mulatto in the 1910 North Carolina census. She did not know until writing the memoir that her mother’s family were mixed race black people; she had always been told by her mother that her family was Scottish and Irish.

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