LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Rita Moreno did a little of everything in accepting the lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild. She sang, she danced, she dropped the F-bomb.
The 82-year-old entertainer was clearly delighted with being singled out at the SAG Awards on Saturday night. The crowd of actors at the Shrine Auditorium gave her a standing ovation, with Julia Roberts whooping it up as Moreno’s giddy acceptance speech came to a close.
“I am so (expletive) thrilled,” she crowed after being introduced by old friend Morgan Freeman. “I hope the man with the button was there on time.”
He was; her swearing was bleeped on the live TNT telecast.
“I’m sorry about that word,” she said, then added mischievously, “Actually, I’m not.”
Moreno is one of Hollywood’s rare EGOT winners — owner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. Her Oscar came in 1962 for her iconic portrayal of saucy Anita in “West Side Story.”
“Late in the first act of my career I was recognized with an Oscar. I was 31 and so astonished and surprised,” she told the crowd. “And now this unexpected honour at 82. Hopefully it’s early in the third act of my life.”
Moreno closed her remarks by breaking into a snippet of a cappella song: “So let the music play, as long as there’s a song to sing, I will be, I will be younger than spring.”
The crowd rose to its feet again, with Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep applauding.
“I didn’t expect people to cheer and carry on,” Moreno said backstage.
Later, in a nod to Moreno,”Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston came up to accept his trophy for actor in a dramatic series and sang, “I won a SAG Award.”
Moreno’s nearly 70-year career includes movie, stage, television and concert credits. She and Freeman starred on “The Electric Company,” a 1971 comedy variety show that taught reading concepts to kids.
She is the only Hispanic performer to win entertainment’s top four trophies. Backstage, she was asked about the ongoing push by Latinos to earn more positions in front of and behind the camera.
“It’s about persevering. We’ll get there,” she said. “The door is ajar. I’m saying we have to open that door some more. I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime, I mean I’m 82.”
Moreno hardly looked her age in a Roberto Cavelli black-and-gold flowered gown and Herve Leger gold-studded leather jacket.
“I may be the only performer here tonight that actually paid for this stuff,” she said backstage. “It’s edgy, but it doesn’t look like I tried to look too young.”