When Norman Lear approached actress Rita Moreno about being in his new show, Moreno quickly agreed.
“Then I said, ‘What is it?’ And he said, ‘One Day at a Time.’ And the rest is going to be history because it is a terrific show,” Moreno said.
Lear, the legendary television writer and producer who’s remaking his classic 1970s sitcom on Netflix, is very much involved in the process, according to Moreno.
“Every bit of it, that old fart. He’s 94. I say he’s an old fart. I’m 85,” Moreno said.
Moreno, whose career spans seven decades, is part of a small, elite group of “EGOT” performers who have won all four prestigious entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Now she’s starring as Lydia in the story that follows three generations of a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles.
“I am the mother of the mother who thinks she is God’s gift, which is always fun to play,” Moreno said. “She’s very vain, full of herself, and very theatrical.”
At first, Moreno was worried about memorizing her lines because she was “searching for words.”
“What I learned from it is that when you engage your brain, it’s absolutely true what they say. When you engage your brain, it just keeps getting fatter and richer and wonderful,” Moreno said. “And by the time we’d done with 13 episodes, I was memorizing like -- [snap, snap, snap] – this.”
Asked about the life she’s lived, Moreno asked, “What about my life?” as the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts bursted into laughter.
“I’ve had many of them. Which one are you referring to?” Moreno said. “The Marlon Brando episode, the Elvis Presley.”
“Well, who was better?” Charlie Rose asked.
“Are you serious?! I mean, Elvis was a sweet darling, shy fellow, but he was really boring. Boring to me at the time,” Moreno said. “He was a really nice guy. But he was boring. Marlon, Marlon, what a brain. What an astonishing man he was. He damn near killed me, but nevermind. It’s good to be able to be here and tell the story.”
Watch the video to see how Brando “damn near killed” Moreno, and see how she wished Charlie Rose happy birthday with a “Marylin Monroe”-style serenade.