With panache and profanity, Rita Moreno accepts actors' honor

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[January 21, 2014]  LOS ANGELES (Reuters) Rita Moreno, the 82-year-old actress who won an Oscar for her role as Anita in "West Side Story," lit up the Screen Actors Guild awards on Saturday accepting a lifetime achievement award with a wistful song and an exclamation of profanity.

Moreno uttered the expletive as soon as she ascended to the stage to accept the award presented to her by actor Morgan Freeman.

"I am sorry about that word. Actually, I am not," she added later, laughing.

The standard TV telecast delay allowed the network to bleep out the profanity for television viewers.

Moreno, who also sang Frank Sinatra's song "This Is All I Ask" while on stage, was soon after the top trending topic on Twitter.

The outspoken Puerto Rico-born actress is the only Hispanic to have won the four major awards in the entertainment industry  the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars and the Tonys.

"The difference between getting an Oscar, for instance, and having an honor like this tonight is that the Oscar is really meant for a performance and a specific film," Moreno said speaking to media off stage. "This, I don't call it an award. I call it an honor because it's about a lifetime."

The actress, whose career began in the racially segregated United States of the 1950s, also spoke about the continuing challenges for Hispanic women in Hollywood.

"I'm not surprised because as long as you have problems with immigration, and the reform of immigration, in my lifetime it will always be difficult," she told reporters backstage.

Moreno, who coyly greeted actors Brad Pitt and Jeremy Renner from the stage during her speech, capped her acceptance singing parts of Sinatra's ballad about growing old, which she told reporters was the "essence of what I feel."

"So let the music play as long as there's a song to sing and I will be, I will be, younger than spring," she sang on stage.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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