Rita Moreno to receive SAG lifetime achievement honor

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Actress Rita Moreno attends the Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards Gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on March 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
Stephen Lovekin

Rita Moreno is set to receive the Screen Actor Guild's highest honor.

The 81-year-old performer has been named the 50th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award for her nearly 70-year-long career in show business and for her humanitarian accomplishments.

"No one is more deserving of this honor than the fabulous and accomplished Rita Moreno," SAG co-president Robert Reardon said in a press release. "[Moreno] is an inspiration in every effort, but never more so than with her civil rights activism, promoting equality and diversity while ushering in a more representative depiction of the American scene on screen."

Moreno has spent a great deal of her career combating stereotypes.

Viewed by at least one studio executive as the "Spanish Elizabeth Taylor," Moreno faced a great deal of discrimination in 1950s Hollywood and was often typecast in ethnic roles with heavy accents.

"It's funny now, it was horrible then," she told Mo Rocco in an interview for CBS' "Sunday Morning."

Moreno was born in Puerto Rico in 1931 and moved to New York with her parents when she was five years old. The young talent got her start in the theater, making her Broadway debut when she was 13 in a production of "Skydrift," co-starring Eli Wallach.

She then quickly moved on to films, with roles in classics like "Singin' In the Rain" and "The King and I."

In 1962, Moreno became the first Hispanic woman to ever win an Academy Award, landing the best supporting actress Oscar for her performance as Anita in the hit musical "West Side Story."

TV work then came later, with award-winning appearances on a diverse range of programs like "The Muppet Show," "The Rockford Files" and "Oz."

The veteran entertainer also found success on the stage, scoring a best actress Tony Award in 1975 for her performance in "The Ritz."

Moreno is one of only 12 people in history to be identified as an EGOT -- a winner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards.

The 20th annual SAG awards will air Jan. 18, 2014, on TNT and TBS.

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.