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Rita Moreno knows her best years aren't behind her. In fact, she's in them right now.
The scintillating acting legend has won an Oscar ("West Side Story"), two Emmys ("The Muppet Show" and "The Rockford Files"), a Tony ("The Ritz") and a Grammy ("The Electric Company"), becoming the first Latina woman to achieve the coveted "EGOT" in 1977.
But at 89, the trailblazing Puerto Rican-born entertainer is busier than ever, having just wrapped a four-season reboot of sitcom "One Day at a Time" and played a new role in Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story (in theaters Dec. 10), a reimagining of the 1961 movie musical that made her famous as the confident and savvy Anita.
She's now the subject of a candid new documentary "Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It," which premiered at Sundance Film Festival Friday. In a virtual Q&A following the film, Moreno said she's not only the happiest she's ever been, but on a career high, too.
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"Oh my God, yes," Moreno said. "For one thing, I'm 89. I'm still here. My brain is working OK. I forget nouns, but nouns and I are not on good terms anymore because I'm old. The names of things or people constantly make me crazy. But I have a documentary about my life. I have a redo of 'West Side Story,' a film that had enormous, outrageous success. And I'm 89!"
"Right now, I'm terrific," she continued. "I'm one of the most terrific 89-year-olds I know."
One of the documentary's most surprising revelations involves Moreno's 45-year marriage to Leonard Gordon, who died in 2010. The couple had a seemingly perfect relationship and one daughter, Fernanda Luisa Gordon. But Moreno says he didn't like her "raucous" laughter and big personality, and was often a "controller."
When he died, "I thought, 'It's over. I don't have to answer to anybody anymore,' " Moreno says in the film.
The actress says she wouldn't have spoken publicly about their marriage were he still alive today.
"I would never have talked about him without his permission. I couldn't do that," Moreno said during the Q&A. "And it's entirely possible and probable that he would have said, 'What? Are you crazy? No you cannot.' In a way, having the freedom to do it was really very important to me because we ran quite an extraordinary and successful charade for many years."
Filming "the whole interview about my husband (for the documentary) was very hard," Moreno added. "He was a wonderful person, it was just that our marriage didn't work out. I didn't realize how desperately I needed to be on my own. I really didn't realize how I was punishing myself by not being on my own."
The film, which airs on PBS' American Masters later this year, chronicles Moreno's humble beginnings in Humacao, Puerto Rico. She moved to New York with her mom as a young girl, taking up dance lessons and getting discovered by a talent scout at age 16. Movie mogul Louis B. Mayer called her a "Spanish Elizabeth Taylor" during their first meeting, and she was signed to MGM soon after.
But when she arrived in Hollywood, she was quickly typecast as sex objects and stereotypical minority characters: playing Native American and Filipino women with limited dialogue and so-called "universal accents," and a Burmese slave named Tuptim in 1956 movie musical "The King and I."
"I wanted to turn the parts down, but that's all that was offered and I had to make a living," Moreno says in the film. "I was kind of stuck."
Around that time, Moreno recalls a harrowing encounter with her then-agent, who forced himself on the actress and raped her in his apartment.
"Here's what's terrible: I still let him be my agent, because he was the only one I knew that was helping me in my so-called career," Moreno says. "That's what astonishes me – that I thought so little of myself."
She also describes her tumultuous eight-year love affair with Marlon Brando, who arranged for her to get an abortion as soon as he learned she was pregnant. The botched procedure proved near-fatal and she bled for days after. "It was very scary, because I could've died," Moreno says.
Shortly after shooting "West Side Story," and reeling from Brando's emotional abuse and philandering, Moreno attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills.
"It was humiliating and I was letting him step all over me," Moreno says. "I wanted to get rid of myself because I didn't think I deserved to live."
After surviving the attempt, she went into therapy and managed to get closure with Brando. Although she doesn't currently attend therapy, "I always have an open date," Moreno said. "My therapist now lives in San Francisco and he said, 'Anytime you want some advice, you don't even have to come in – just call.' I talked to him a number of times when I was having problems with my marriage and it was immensely helpful."
"Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It" screens again virtually Sunday at 10 am EST, and is still seeking a theatrical distributor.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rita Moreno Sundance documentary: Oscar winner on marriage, being 89