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Rita Moreno Says 'Lust of My Life' Marlon Brando Persuaded Her to Get Therapy: 'I Was Madly in Love'

"Here's this crazy man telling this crazy woman that she needs therapy," Moreno joked during a live panel at Dotdash Meredith's offices in N.Y.C. Wednesday

Amy Sussman/Getty; Avalon/Getty  Rita Moreno; Marlon Brando
Amy Sussman/Getty; Avalon/Getty Rita Moreno; Marlon Brando

Rita Moreno is crediting the late Marlon Brando with persuading her to go to therapy.

During a fireside chat between Moreno and People en Español at the DotdashMeredith offices in New York City on Wednesday, the EGOT legend, 92, recalled being "sent into psychotherapy" years after she endured bullying over her Latina heritage as a child.

"It took me a long time, and therapy, to get to like myself," Moreno said. "When you get traumatized that early in your life, it takes a long time to get rid of the notion that you're bad."

She also revealed that her boyfriend at the time — Brando, whom she first met at age 22 on the set of the Napoleon biopic Désirée and had a torrid 8-year affair with — was the person who "recommended" she seek help.

"Here's this crazy man telling this crazy woman that she needs therapy," Moreno joked. "I adored him — I was madly in love with him."

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20th Century-Fox/Getty Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno on the set of <em>Désirée</em> (1954)
20th Century-Fox/Getty Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno on the set of Désirée (1954)

Related: Rita Moreno Still Keeps a Photo of Marlon Brando in her Bedroom: 'He was the Lust of My Life'

Moreno also confirmed that Brando was "the lust of [my life]," while late husband Leonard Gordon. whom she was married to for 45 years before his death in 2010, was the love of her life.

"We had a thing going," Moreno said of Brando. "Oh, yeah, that was the crux of our relationship. It was really, essentially, very sexual, and he was amazing. So was I!"

Gordon was a cardiologist and internist before he retired from the medical field to become his wife's manager. They shared daughter Fernanda Luisa Gordon.

Before speaking at the panel Wednesday, Moreno told PEOPLE she "probably" would've eventually left her "very controlling" late husband. (She hasn't remarried since Gordon's death.)

“Things began to get very tense. And if it were not for my daughter, I probably would have left,” the West Side Story actress said.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Rita Moreno and Leonard Gordon on Oct. 1, 2008
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Rita Moreno and Leonard Gordon on Oct. 1, 2008

Related: Rita Moreno Celebrates Her 92nd Birthday by Conducting Her Singing Friends

However, she added that she wasn't sure if divorce was an option, “because I had no plans to have a life with anybody else.”

Moreno also explained that marriage can be “very hard," and said most spouses make a “deal” that is “never spoken." 

“In my case, it was, ‘You'll be the daddy and take care of me. And I'll be your little girl and I'll make you very happy.’ There came a time when I didn't want that anymore,” the actress told PEOPLE. “And that's when the marriage got into trouble.”

While referring to her late husband as someone with “a fabulous sense of humor” and “a wonderful grandfather,” Moreno shared her takeaways from their time together as well.

“This marriage taught me something about relationships that I didn't like, and that is having to be with somebody forever and ever is not necessarily a fabulous thing," she said. "Sometimes it is. But more often than not, it's not. That's something I learned — a big, deep lesson.”

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