Vin Diesel Gives “First Crush” Rita Moreno a Moving Tribute

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Rita Moreno‘s unimaginable, decades-long profession is being celebrated.

Moreno, 92, appeared on the Edison Ballroom in New York City on the WNET Group’s 2024 gala on Tuesday, May 7, the place Vin Diesel celebrated his onscreen grandmother’s and official “first crush’s” legendary performing profession.

Taking the stage with a heartfelt speech, Diesel, 56, made it clear he was there to assist Moreno, who portrayed Abuelita, the grandmother of Diesel’s long-running Dominic Toretto character in Fast X.

“My dream as a child rising up right here in New York … my first crush … was Rita,” he started.

He credited Moreno’s function in The Electric Company for serving to him and fellow New Yorkers in his neighborhood discover ways to learn. The basic tv collection ran from 1971 to 1977. He then recalled a full circle second when he was searching for an actress to play Abuelita within the newest Fast & Furious franchise movie.

“I had the unimaginable luxurious of assembly one among my idols and from that second on I assumed the one human on the planet that might play probably the most important function to Dom Toretto can be Rita Moreno.”

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He praised Moreno for serving to him understand as a baby that somebody who “seems to be like me” could make it as a well-known actor, giving him the “confidence” to pursue his personal goals.

Sharing an unforgettable second Diesel continued, “Rita and I had been working and a line was created on the spot for her to say. It was whispered into her ear and he or she appeared up and began crying and stated. ‘That’s probably the most stunning line I’ve ever heard.’ Now what? What do you do with that however cry? The complete set was crying.”

“You not solely present up for household however you present up for those who make a distinction on this world and that simply by inviting me right here validates my existence. I’m critical,” Diesel stated. “I haven’t got an Oscar, I haven’t got an Emmy, I haven’t got a Golden Globe, I haven’t got a Tony however I obtained Rita Moreno.”

Moreno grew to become emotional after listening to Diesel’s variety phrases, and instructed the viewers in what gave the impression to be an sudden second on the microphone, “I’ve by no means had any type of celebration in my honor. Yes, I’ve gotten some fairly fabulous awards and statutes however I’ve by no means had something in my honor.”

After reflecting on her journey, she sang a rendition of Dream,” which garnered a standing ovation from the viewers.

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Morgan Freeman, Alan Cumming, Lin Manuel-Miranda, and Sally Field additionally appeared through video to pay tribute to the EGOT winner. Dancers from the Ballet Hispánico carried out on the occasion, as did Marvel actress and Dancing with the Stars champion Xochitl Gomez. Ansel Elgort carried out “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story, leading to an emotional Moreno kissing Elgort after the second.

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Moreno first appeared on Broadway as an adolescent in 1945 in a manufacturing of Skydrift; she then started performing for the display with 1950’s So Young, So Bad and memorably starred within the 1961 movie West Side Story, for which she gained an Academy Award for her efficiency as Anita. Moreno reached EGOT standing in 1977 after she gained an Emmy Award for showing on The Muppet Show; she gained a Grammy in 1973 and a Tony Award in 1975 for her efficiency in The Ritz.

Kristina Bumphrey/Variety through Getty


Moreno turned 92 in December. She caught up with PEOPLE in April, when she spoke about her relationship along with her daughter Fernanda Luisa Gordon, whom she shares along with her late husband, Leonard Gordon.

“There are occasions after I want her knowledge, and they’re extra typically than you would possibly assume, significantly at this age,” she stated on the time. “Ninety-two isn’t simple in some ways, and it is one thing that is obscure.” 

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