LOS ANGELES (Jan. 15, 2014) — Morgan Freeman will present the SAG 50th Life Achievement Award to Rita Moreno at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, Executive Producer/Director Jeff Margolis and Executive Producer Kathy Connell announced today.
SAG-AFTRA is honoring Rita Moreno for her career achievement and humanitarian accomplishments. Past recipients of the Life Achievement Award include Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Ernest Borgnine, Betty White, James Earl Jones, Charles Durning, Julie Andrews, Shirley Temple Black, James Garner, Karl Malden, Clint Eastwood, Edward Asner, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Lansbury, Robert Redford, and George Burns.
In 1971, Freeman and Moreno were among the stars of “The Electric Company,” a comedy variety show created by the Children's Television Workshop (CTW) featuring live-action sketches, cartoons, and songs. Inspired by The Motown Sound, “Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In” and Broadway, the series was designed to teach basic reading concepts to children ages 7 to 10. Adored by audiences and critics alike, “The Electric Company” became known as the most popular instructional show on television over its six-year run. The series won an Emmy ® for Outstanding Children's Series, and its soundtrack album earned a Grammy ® .
Actor® recipient Morgan Freeman has been nominated for four SAG Awards®. In 2005, he took home an Actor® for his supporting role in “Million Dollar Baby” as well as receiving a concurrent nomination as a member of the film's cast. He also received nominations for his lead roles in “Shawshank Redemption” (1995) and “Invictus” (2010). Some of Freeman’s other acting credits include “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Unforgiven,” “Se7en,” “Kiss the Girls,” “Nurse Betty,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Bucket List,” and “The Dark Knight.”
Rita Moreno, 82, continues to embody the creative diversity that has been the hallmark of her nearly 70-year career . One of only 11 artists and the only Hispanic performer to have won the entertainment industry's four top competitive awards, she earned her Oscar in 1962 for her iconic portrayal of saucy Anita in “West Side Story ,” a role which drew on memories of the racial taunts she endured as a young Puerto Rican immigrant living in a Bronx "barrio." Her 1972 Grammy honored her performance on “The Electric Company Album,” based on the long-running PBS children's literacy television series on which Moreno played multiple roles in a memorable cast that included Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman. She was again honored by the Recording Academy with the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. The Tony came for her 1975 satiric turn as flamboyant, talentless Puerto Rican bathhouse singer Googie Gomez in Broadway's “The Ritz .” A six-time Emmy nominee, she won her first of the Television Academy's honors in 1977 for one of her many guest appearances on “The Muppet Show.” The following year, she earned a second Emmy for her dramatic guest performance on “The Rockford Files.”
Over the decades, Moreno has collected dozens of other show business honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995. A favorite of Chicago audiences and critics, she received that city's coveted Joseph Jefferson Award in 1968 as Serafina in “The Rose Tattoo ” and in 1985 was awarded the prestigious Sara Siddons Award for her comic portrayal of Olive Madison in the female version of “The Odd Couple . ” In 1998 she received the first of two National Council of La Raza ALMA awards for her role as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo in the gritty HBO prison drama “Oz,” as well as the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to film, stage, television and concert commitments, Moreno fills her spare time by lecturing to various organizations and university audiences. She speaks on such varied topics as The Value of Diversity to our Culture , The Power of Language , Getting Older Without Getting Old and A History of the Arts in Film TV & Theatre.
After her Oscar win, Moreno came to realize that being a public figure could give voice to important causes. She was among the Hollywood luminaries mobilized by Harry Belafonte to take part in the historic March on Washington on August 28, 1963. She has since been involved with many civic, cultural, and charitable organizations and events supporting such important causes as racial equality, hunger, early childhood education, higher education for minority students through such organizations as The Jackie Robinson Foundation, and health issues like HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Her longtime interest in fitness led to her producing the 1992 exercise video “Rita Moreno: Now You Can! Fit and Fabulous Forever.”
Moreno has served on The National Endowment for the Arts and as a Commissioner for The President's White House Fellowships. She has also served as a member of The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
At a White House ceremony in June 2004, Moreno was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. The medal is the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian and ranks second only to The Congressional Medal of Honor as the nation's highest award. It is conferred on individuals for a lifetime of meritorious service.
For additional background on Ms. Moreno visit sagawards.org/awards/life-achievement-award-recipient/50th .