At 89, Rita Moreno is unquestionably a Hollywood legend. Not only is she one of a very few entertainers to achieved the EGOT—winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony—she’s been a figure in show business for almost 80 years.
From West Side Story to the recent revival of One Day at a Time, Moreno has made her mark on pop culture. And she’s also known for getting candid about her personal life. In a recent interview, Rita Moreno spilled not only about some of her most famous exes but also revealed her No. 1 tip for having great sex.
“I’ll tell you what makes sex great: having it when you want it,” the actor told Esquire. “There’s nothing like it. When you are ready for it and the other person is more than ready for it, you can’t beat that.”
Moreno told the magazine that she had one major stipulation before taking on the role of grandmother Lydia Riera in One Day at a Time, which ran from 2017 to 2020. In a conference call with producers, she recalled saying,”I have one request, and if you can’t do that, I’m not interested. [Lydia] has to be a sexual being. The inability to conceive doesn’t mean you’re no longer a woman with feelings.”
She also opened up about her views on love and commitment, aside from the physical aspect of a relationship.
“I think love has a great deal to do with trust,” Moreno said. “Love is the kind of thing that happens when you understand your partner would do anything for you, as you would for them.”
She dated Elvis Presley to make Marlon Brando jealous.
Moreno had been dating Marlon Brando but was “devastated” when she found someone else’s lingerie in his house, she told Esquire. To “get even” with him, she went out with Elvis Presley, saying yes when his manager Colonel Tom Parker, called to ask her on a date on his client’s behalf.
“So we dated a couple times,” Moreno said. “Marlon found out about it, and boy, was he upset. 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.”
Presley served his purpose, but otherwise, Moreno wasn’t impressed with him.
“People asked me, ‘What did you think of Elvis?'” she said. “And mind you, I had been going with Marlon for quite some time, so I said he was a bit dull. He was a sweet country boy. He was nice and he was boring. I don’t know how else to tell you.”
Her relationship with Brando was a rollercoaster.
“In a way, it was an extremely sensual relationship,” she said of Brando to Esquire. “That part of it was nothing but incredible. But then there was the rest of him.”
She also wrote about their love affair in her 2013 memoir, as reported by the New York Post.
“To say that he was a great lover—sensual, generous, delightfully inventive—would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul,” Moreno wrote. “Every aspect of being with Marlon was thrilling, because he was more engaged in the world than anyone else I’d ever known.”
However, their relationship was colored by Brando’s infidelity and temper. According to Moreno, when she told him that she was carrying their child, he arranged for the pregnancy to be terminated. And the procedure was botched, forcing Moreno to rush to the hospital. After that, she took an overdose of sleeping pills. Brando’s assistant found her and brought her back to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. Moreno (and her therapist) decided then that she should cut ties with the On the Waterfront star for good.
“My relationship with Marlon was the classic example of looking for acceptance from someone who is incapable of giving it,” she said to Esquire. “You’re trying to get Daddy to love you, and you inevitably pick someone who is incapable of feeling that way about you.”
Her husband of 45 years was “a controller.”
Moreno is the subject of a feature documentary that premiered at Sundance earlier this year. In the film, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, as reported by USA Today, she reveals that her husband Leonard Gordon was “a controller” and did not particularly enjoy her larger-than-life personality.
The two were married from 1965 until Gordon’s death in 2010. When he passed, Moreno says in the film, “I thought, ‘It’s over. I don’t have to answer to anybody anymore.'”
In a Q&A after the Sundance screening, Moreno said that she would not have considered airing their marriage problems when Gordon was still alive. She would have needed to ask for his permission, and she was sure he wouldn’t have granted it.
“And it’s entirely possible and probable that he would have said, ‘What? Are you crazy? No you cannot,'” the star said. “In a way, having the freedom to do it was really very important to me because we ran quite an extraordinary and successful charade for many years.”
She went on to says that he was “a wonderful person,” but that she thinks she would have been better off on her own all those years.
“The deal we secretly made without ever naming it was not a healthy one, and it was destined not to work,” she told Esquire.If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or chat them 24/7 for free and confidential support.