Rita Moreno is revered by many in the Hispanic community as "La Pionera," which directly translates to "The Pioneer."

This was no happy accident, though. She has held the record for quite a few firsts as a Latina in the entertainment business.

Perhaps, she was also one of the first to have openly outed her 45-year long marriage with her husband as an "extraordinary and successful charade." 

Rita Moreno's 45-Year Marriage a Charade?

Moreno married her husband, Dr. Leonard Isadore Gordon, on June 18, 1965, and was by his side right up until his last breath on June 30, 2010. They welcomed a daughter, Fernanda Gordon, into the world in their time together. 

Rita Moreno with her grandson Cameron

Rita Moreno with her grandson Cameron (Source: Instagram)

It wasn't until she released her new documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in early 2021, that people found out that her seemingly perfect marriage was not what it looked like. 

From the outside, the couple seemed to have found the secret mantra for a successful marriage. After all, they managed to stay together for over four decades in an industry where relationships seemingly exist in dog years. 

Rita Moreno Dished on Her Marriage

Understandably, everyone was surprised when Moreno revealed in the film that her husband didn't like her "raucous" laughter and big personality. Instead, she shared that he was often a "controller." 

[When he died] I thought, 'It's over. I don't have to answer to anybody anymore.'

The actress, one of the few to have won the coveted EGOT, confessed to USA Today that she wouldn't have spoken publicly about her life with her husband if he were still alive. 

Moreno reiterated that she would never have spoken about her husband in the public sphere without his permission. 

"I couldn't do that," she affirmed. 

And it's entirely possible and probable that he would have said, 'What? Are you crazy? No you cannot.'


A post shared by Rita Moreno (@theritamoreno)

She explained that the freedom to open up about her marriage was "really very important" to her because, from her vantage point, the marriage was a charade. 

Rita Moreno Insisted Her Husband Was A Wonderful Person 

Moreno also admitted that shooting for the interview about her husband during the making of the documentary was an especially hard thing to do. 

She insisted that Gordon was a wonderful person. It was just that their marriage didn't work out, and from the inside, Moreno never realized how desperately she needed to be on her own.

That being said, she had been in a much more toxic relationship before she married Gordon. She talked about her eight-year relationship with Marlon Brando.

She claimed the actor promptly arranged for her to have an abortion as soon as he found out she was pregnant. But, unfortunately, the procedure didn't go as planned. 

It was a near-fatal botch that left her bleeding for days. Admittedly, she could have died. 

Rita Moreno Tried to End Her Life

Shortly after shooting West Side Story, one of the most iconic roles of her career, she had a tough time recovering from Brando's emotional abuse and philandering. 


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So much so that she tried to end her own life by swallowing sleeping pills. 

"It was humiliating and I was letting him step all over me," Moreno confessed. "I wanted to get rid of myself because I didn't think I deserved to live."

Thankfully, she survived and sought out professional help. 

At the time of the interview, she believed that she was one of the most terrific 89-year-olds she knew.