“My middle name really is perseverance. I’ve always believed that I had talent, even when I felt like a very inferior sort of person… I spent a lot of time living my life feeling that I wasn’t worthy. But even then I knew that I had something special, and maybe that’s what it takes. Maybe people need to have that kind of particular core driving them… I felt I had talent.”

Happy 87th birthday to Rita Moreno, trailblazing artist and living legend! Here she is in Loomis Dean’s 1954 photographs for LIFE and in the present-day, as gorgeous and glorious as ever.