Skip to main content /SHOWBIZ /SHOWBIZ



Where is the cast of 'West Side Story' now?

A scene in "West Side Story"  

(PEOPLE) -- Set in New York City, "West Side Story" (the 1961 update of "Romeo and Juliet") won 10 Academy Awards, including those for best picture, best supporting actress (Rita Moreno), best supporting actor (George Chakiris) and Best Director (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins).

"It was such a challenge to do," says Wise. "I had to deliver the city of New York!"

George Chakiris (Bernardo)

Shooting dance sequences on the streets of New York City gave the film a gritty realism. "Actual gang members were used for security," says Chakiris, who played the leader of the Puerto Rican Sharks Bernardo. "Some of them wanted to know how they could join the Sharks or the Jets."

But the location also gave the cast a grueling drill. "Working on pavement all day was probably a little harder than a studio floor, but it was the right place to be," says the Ohio-born actor.

The never-married Oscar winner, 67, launched a successful nightclub act in Las Vegas in the '70s and last appeared onstage in the 1996 musical "Jane Eyre" in London. He now designs a line of jewelry at his home in L.A. "I was inspired by a scarab I'd seen from the King Tut collection!" he says.

Russ Tamblyn (Riff)

PEOPLE COVER STORY: Hollywood healthy bodies 

More from PEOPLE.COM 
PEOPLE.COM PROFILE: Get to know your favorite personality 
Want more from PEOPLE.COM? Sign up  for free e-mails

A champion gymnast at North Hollywood High and an acrobatic dancer in 1954's "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," Tamblyn was more than ready for the rigors of playing the Jets gang leader in "Story."

"We would rehearse and rehearse, and Jerome Robbins would always want more," Tamblyn remembers. "Bob Wise would say, 'Geez, Jerry, that looked good to me.' "

"Story" fans saw a very different Tamblyn on TV in the early '90s when he played Dr. Lawrence Jacoby on David Lynch's surreal "Twin Peaks."

Today the 67-year-old actor lives in Santa Monica, California, with folk singer wife Bonnie Murray, 54, and manages the career of 18-year-old daughter Amber Rose, who recently ended a six-year run on ABC's "General Hospital." "She's really cooking," he says. "She's keeping me very busy."

Rita Moreno (Anita)

One of the few native Puerto Ricans cast in the film (she played the girlfriend of Sharks leader Bernardo), Moreno had less authentic dance credentials. "I have never claimed to be a great dancer," she told NPR in 1999, and she admitted to PEOPLE in 1998 that "West Side Story"'s strenuous choreography "damn near killed me."

Moreno in 1997.  

Not only did she survive, she went on to add a Tony, a Grammy and two Emmys to her Oscar over a 57-year career.

Now 70, Moreno lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband of 36 years, retired cardiologist Leonard Gordon, 81. The mother of actress Fernanda Luisa Fischer, 35, and grandmother of two is winning new fans as Sister Pete on HBO's "Oz."

For more Where Are They Now? stories, visit PEOPLE.COM




Back to the top