Rita Moreno 'shocked' to learn that Michael Jackson was a big fan of hers

Rita Moreno was "shocked" to learn that Michael Jackson was a fan of hers.

The 92-year-old actress won an Oscar for her role as Anita in the 1961 classic 'West Side Story' and performed heavy choreography in the number 'America' but met the late King of Pop - who died in 2009 at the age of 50 - many years later and was taken aback to realise she had inspired some of the movement in his hit single 'Thriller'.

She told this week's edition of People magazine: "I’m always shocked when Michael — I love to tell the story - he told me one day that I was a huge favourite of his, [in this] tiny little voice. And he said, ‘I’ve always loved your dancing, and I copied some of the steps,’ and sure enough, when I saw ‘Thriller,’ I saw some of the steps from ‘America.’

"He just loved the choreography. He was influenced by ['West Side Story choreographer] Jerome Robbins. Oh, very much. Very much."

Meanwhile, the Hollywood star - who also appeared in the 2021 remake of 'West Side Story' - starred alongside retired NFL star Tom Brady in '80 For Brady' and praised the sports player as having "terrific manners", but quipped that his ex-wife Gisele Bundchen may disagree.

She said: "He’s gorgeous, he looks like a very big boy. He's really handsome. Terrific manners. You know, his wife may not think so. I'm not his wife."

Rita starred alongside Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Lily Tomlin in the 2023 comedy that saw the actresses play four friends on a mission to see Tom play at the Super Bowl and previously explained that making the movie was a "once-in-lifetime experience" for her.

She said: "The opportunity to work alongside these four amazingly talented women has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience!"