Tony Mordente, ‘West Side Story’ star, ex-husband of Chita Rivera, dead at 88

Tony Mordente

Tony Mordente, an actor, dancer and choreographer who starred in the Broadway and film versions of “West Side Story” before becoming a director, died June 11. He was 88.

The actor’s death was confirmed to People by his daughter, Lisa Mordente. According to his obituary, he was a resident of Henderson, Nevada.

He was married to Chita Rivera, his Broadway co-star on “West Side Story,” from 1957 to 1966.

“A Jet marrying a Shark. It was quite a thing,” Mordente said in a 1963 interview.

Rivera died in January. Their daughter, Lisa, was born in 1958, People reported.

Tony Mordente played A-Rab, a member of the Jets gang in the original play in 1957 and played the role of another Jets member, the short-tempered Action, in the 1961 screen version, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He was a choreographer on Broadway as an actor, understudy and/or assistant choreographer in “Li’l Abner,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Ben Franklin in Paris,” the entertainment news website reported.

He also choreographed on television shows like “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour,” People reported.

During the 1970s, Mordente directed television shows, including “M*A*S*H,” “Family Ties,” “The A-Team” and “7th Heaven,” according to the magazine.

In 1978, he married Jean Fraser, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They shared a second daughter, Adriana Mordente.

Lisa Mordente followed in her parents footsteps and became an actor, Entertainment Weekly reported. She was nominated for a Best Actress Tony for the 1982 musical, “Marlowe.”

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