The role of Tony’s kind, concerned boss at the soda shop has been passed on to Doc’s widow, Valentina, who’s seen too much to be entirely optimistic about her young employee’s long-term chances for happiness with Maria.
“No. 1, it’s a beautiful name,” Moreno, who’s also an executive producer on the film, told Parade of her new West Side Story character. “No. 2, she has a close relationship with Tony, the lead. It’s very, very different than the relationship that Doc had with the kids. And there is one major surprise with Valentina that of course I’m not going to divulge, but it’s a doozy. Valentina is a wonderful character, she’s loving, she’s warm. She’s nothing like Anita at all. She is definitely an older woman. And it’s been the joy of my life to play her. I could not believe it when Steven called me, and then I talked to Tony Kushner. Apparently, Tony was a big fan of the [original] movie and suggested me to Steven.”
But she wasn’t interested in just a wink-wink cameo. “Playing a cameo when you’ve been a lead is just a distraction,” she explained. “All you’re doing is distracting people. Oh, look who’s there? [Spielberg] said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, it’s not a cameo. It’s a real part.’ I said, ‘OK, then I would like to read the script.’ And that’s how it happened. But I can tell you, going back to the past in the present—it’s incredible.”
Glass, who died in 1984, was a prolific character actor whose first part was an uncredited role in the 1937 screwball comedy True Confession. Later TV jobs included Barney Miller and Cagney & Lacey.