West Side Story cast now: What happened to the stars of the original film?

14 July 2021, 15:44

Here's where the cast of West Side Story is now
Here's where the cast of West Side Story is now. Picture: Alamy

By Naomi Bartram

Where are the cast of West Side Story now? Find out about Natalie Wood, George Chakiris and Richard Beymer.

After its release back in 1961, West Side Story won an impressive ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno) and Best Director (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins).

The hit film tells the story of Romeo And Juliet, focussing on two feuding street gangs in 1950s New York.

And 60 years on, West Side Story is getting an update, with Steven Spielberg revamping the story for a brand new film.

The adaptation will arrive this December, with Ansel Elgort starring as Tony, Rachel Zegler as Maria and Ariana DeBose as Anita.

So, as we look forward to watching the new West Side Story in the cinema, let’s find out what happened to the original cast of the film…

Where is the West Side Story cast now?

Richard Beymer (Tony)

Richard Beymer played Tony in West Side Story
Richard Beymer played Tony in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

After his role in West Side Story, Richard played Nick Adams in Adventures of a Young Man and also had a significant role in the film The Longest Day.

West Side Story remake: Cast, trailer, soundtrack, photos and all you need to know

His other credits include The Stripper in 1963 with Joanne Woodward and Twin Peaks between 1990 and 1991, which he reprised in 2017.

Beymer also turned to filmmaking and wrote, produced and directed the 1973 film The Interview, as well as directing his own documentaries including The Passing of a Saint, It's a Beautiful World and Richard Beymer's Before... the Big Bang.

Natalie Wood (Maria)

Natalie Wood played Maria in West Side Story
Natalie Wood played Maria in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

Following her role as Maria, Natalie went on to star in the 1962 film Gypsy, as well as Splendor in the Grass, Love with the Proper Stranger and Inside Daisy Clover.

During the 1970s, Wood took a break from acting to have a baby with husband Robert Wagne.

She later had a role in From Here to Eternity for which she received a Golden Globe Award.

Wood died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 43 during the making of 1983 film Brainstorm while on a boat trip to Santa Catalina Island.

George Chakiris (Bernardo)

George Chakiris played Bernardo in West Side Story
George Chakiris played Bernardo in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

After West Side Story, Chakiris played the lead in Two and Two Make Six and also had roles in Diamond Head, Kings of the Sun, Bebo's Girl and 633 Squadron.

In the early 1960s, he also tried his hand at a career as a pop singer, resulting in a couple of hit songs.

Chakiris had a recurring role on the TV show Superboy as Professor Peterson and starred in Pale Blood, Human Target and The Girls of Lido.

The actor's last role was in a 1996 episode of the British sitcom Last of the Summer Wine before he retired. He is now 86 years old and lives in Los Angeles.

Russ Tamblyn (Riff)

Russ Tamblyn played Riff in West Side Story
Russ Tamblyn played Riff in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

Throughout his teens, Tamblyn appeared in several films and worked as a choreographer.

In 1990, he played Dr. Lawrence Jacoby in the television drama Twin Peaks alongside his West Side Story co-star Richard Beymer, which he reprised during its 2017 revival.

His other credits include Running Mates, Cabin Boy, Drive, Django Unchained and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.

West Side Story: Steven Spielberg's musical remake gets a fantastic first trailer

Rita Moreno (Anita)

Rita Moreno played Anita in West Side Story
Rita Moreno played Anita in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

Rita Moreno’s career has spanned over 70 years, and she has starred in The Electric Company, Oz, Popi, Carnal Knowledge and The Four Seasons.

The star also played the role of the matriarch Lydia Margarita del Carmen Inclán Maribona Leyte-Vidal de Riera in One Day at a Time.

She has previously won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony and is only person to win all four in performance categories.

Jose De Vega (Chino)

Jose De Vega played Chino in West Side Story
Jose De Vega played Chino in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

Other than West Side Story, Joe appeared in Blue Hawaii, Bonanza, Dynasty, Mission Impossible and Hart to Hart.

He also choreographed, directed and performed in concerts and productions of Great Leap, a Los Angeles group of Asian-American artists.

Matilda cast then and now: Where are the film's child stars and actors now?

He died in April 1990 after complications from AIDS.

Tucker Smith (Ice)

Tucker Smith played Ice in West Side Story
Tucker Smith played Ice in West Side Story. Picture: Alamy

Tucker Smith joined the cast of the original Broadway production of West Side Story in 1958, as a replacement for the role of Big Deal, then going on to play the roles of Diesel and Snowboy.

He also understudied for the character of Riff and had played that role many times.

10 secrets about Grease you probably never knew

The role of Ice in the movie was actually created just for him, with Smith singing the pivotal song ‘Cool’.

After his role in West Side Story, Tucker went on to star in small roles in films and television shows such as To Be or Not to Be, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and At Long Last Love.

He also performed as a dancer at nightclubs, cabarets, and stage productions both in the U.S. and abroad.

Tucker died of cancer in December 1988 at the age of 52.