Rita is a saluki dog and one of the deuteragonists in Disney's 1988 movie, Oliver & Company. Rita is the only one of Fagin 's dogs who is a female. Her speaking (and singing at the end) voice was done by Sheryl Lee Ralph and Ruth Pointer, one of the famous Pointer Sisters, did her singing voice in "Streets of Gold."
Rita is a proud saluki and the only female member of Dodger's dog-gang. Sometimes, Rita acts like a mother figure to Oliver since she is seen; most of the time, taking care of him, teaching him while singing "Streets of Gold" as a way of educating him about the rough and tough streets of New York and about "how the best survive by keeping their dreams alive," protecting him from danger, the only one convinced that he's happy in his new home after being adopted by a little girl named Jenny Foxworth, and happily saying good-bye to him in the end. She is kind, funny, tough, proud, and beautiful.
Rita is first seen napping on Fagin's house boat. After Tito is insulted by Francis and starts scolding at him, Rita wakes up and tells them to "cut it out." Rita checks out the "loot" she and her friends brought for their owner, Fagin, saying he's not gonna be too happy about it. She then asks Francis if he got the food today but, as it turns out, he forgot. Rita and the rest of the dog-gang are upset by the fact that he forgot to get the food today, since it was his turn.
Luckily, when Dodger enters the houseboat, he introduces Rita and his friends to their dinner: hot dogs. When Dodger is asked by his pals about how he got those sausages, he tells them every event that occurred to him today (albeit in an overly-dramatic way). As soon as Dodger mentions his "monster" (Oliver) in the story, Rita becomes a bit scared and even more spooked like the gang when the "monster" falls in. Rita is later seen running and hiding in fear in a corner. She asks Francis what is it, he doesn't know. At first, they don't know what it is; Tito thinks it's an "alien" when a mysterious paw, coming out of the cloth, grabs and scratches him on the nose but then, when the result is out, it turns out to be Oliver; referred as a cat by Rita after seeing the result and telling everyone to calm down and what it is. The gang (except Dodger) surround Oliver and ask him questions about how and why he came to their place; mostly Rita does the questioning. Oliver says he followed Dodger, Tito thinks he's lying while repeating "he's lying" countless times and is kicked by Rita to shut him up then, Francis asks: "Now why would a cat follow a dog?" to which Einstein replies: "Yeah?" Then, Oliver reveals to them the truth about his involvement in Dodger's scheme about the hot dogs theft. Dodger admits to his friends that Oliver is telling the truth and the gang along with Dodger begin to develop respect for him. The gang (except Rita) start to mock Dodger's story, resulting in Dodger starting a "fight" with Tito then Francis, to which Einstein joins in enthusiastically and then, Rita, who at first, was reluctant to join saying they were a "bunch of overgrown..."; unfortunately, she was interrupted after Tito accidently landed on her face, thus, making her want to join in as well.
When Fagin, the dogs' owner, enters and tells them to stop the "fight" he is noticing, the dogs notice the dog biscuits Fagin bought them and then they run and jump on him to give him a warm welcome home.
When Roscoe and DeSoto enter their home after hearing a honking noise, Fagin goes up to have a meeting with their master and his evil boss, Sykes, whom he owes money to. DeSoto sniffs around the place while Roscoe begins to flirt with a disgruntled Rita but, Francis insults him and Tito high-fives him to congratulate and encourage him, but finds himself confronted by the angry Doberman. Tito gets angry and tries to fight Roscoe, not before being held back by Einstein. Then, Einstein insults Roscoe until he is now confronted by the angry Doberman. As Dodger tries to calm Roscoe down, he smashes the television and says he finds it funny and laughs in a sinister way as a reply. When Oliver is discovered by DeSoto and DeSoto, in return for trying to eat Oliver, has his nose scratched by Oliver, Roscoe and DeSoto attempt to attack Oliver, not before Dodger jumps into the scene and protects him. Then, rest of the gang join in to protect their new cat friend from the two evil dogs, roscoe and desoto.
When Fagin enters home; after the Dobermans leave while swearing revenge on them; mostly Roscoe; starting with Oliver, all wet after falling off a pier and full of sadness since he's been given three days to pay Mr. Sykes back or else there's no telling what will happen to him, his house, and his dogs, the dogs do everything they can to cheer him up. Fagin is rejoiced and thanks them. When it's time for bed, Einstein insists Fagin reads them a bedtime story. At first, Fagin is reluctant because he's too tired, but when he hears and sees Einstein whining sadly, Fagin accepts "but just 1 chapter". Rita is later seen sleeping in her bed but then awakened when she hears and sees Oliver rushing to Dodger to sleep with him. At first, Dodger can't understand but after watching Rita, who is half asleep and who witnessed Oliver rushing over to him, and Oliver smile, he quickly understands that the kitten loves him then falls asleep; Rita as well.
The next day, the gang are riding in Fagin's scooter but then, they're told to get out on the street to search for food while Fagin searches for a way to earn or even steal money. Dodger intends to help Fagin with his financial problems and the gang agree to help too. Rita sings "Streets of Gold" while educating Oliver about the rough, tough streets of New York and about "how the best survive by keeping their dreams alive." During the song a vicious alley dog begins to chase Oliver, not before Dodger, Rita, and the rest of the gang growl at the alley dog and shoo him away. Oliver even tries to "bark" like a dog to shoo the alley dog and the gang find it amusing a bit. When Dodger notices a limousine, he comes up with a plan on how to steal its radio and give it to Fagin to exchange it for some money as partial payment to his debt with his evil boss. Later on, after Einstein stops the limousine with Jenny Foxworth in it by running into it head-first as part of Dodger's plan, Francis plays the part of the dog hit as a way of distracting Winston, the driver and Foxworth family's butler, while Oliver and Tito mostly handle the theft. When the plan backfires, Tito is seen "flying" out of the car and electrocuted. Rita and the gang get back to Fagin while Dodger and Tito follow the car where Oliver was taken in.
A few moments later, Dodger and Tito return to Fagin and the gang to inform them about everything, thinking their friend, Oliver, is in "danger" and that he's being "tortured." The gang decide to "rescue" Oliver but, Einstein asks: "But what about Fagin?" When they are stuck between the decision of whether to help Fagin or Oliver, it results into Francis speaking Old English, which Tito finds annoying, resulting into Francis losing his temper while repeating his real name three times after having been insulted and called "Frankie" "again", not before Dodger intervenes and breaks up their argument. Dodger then discusses the "rescue mission" with the gang.
Dodger leads the "rescue" mission to recover Oliver the next day while Jenny's at school. The gang notice Winston banging on something with a rolling pin, thinking he's "torturing" Oliver. After Francis distracts Winston, they enter the house where Tito, along with Rita, points out that the place doesn't look too bad and Francis who is admiring Chagall and Matisse's masterpieces (dog paintings), thus, admiring the place more than focusing on their friend. Luckily, Dodger helps them snap out of it right away.
After checking out the house, Dodger enters Georgette's (the Foxworth family's spoiled pedigree poodle dog show queen) room. Georgette panics and calls for Winston countless times; thinking that he's after her. When Dodger assures her that he isn't, Georgette feels insulted thus, giving him an uninteresting education about herself. Then, the rest of the gang enter her room. Rita notices a picture of a handsome Doberman ex-boyfriend of Georgette named Rex and asks Georgette who he is and she replies: "None of your business!" while the rest of the gang are causing a mess in her room, with Francis lying on her bed and eating her chocolates and mostly Einstein when he sniffs her powder and sneezes thus causing her to call Winston again but when Dodger mentions that they'll leave as soon as they get their cat back, she's cooperative. Before cooperating with the "rescue," Winston manages to get back inside and checks to see if Georgette is alright. Einstein along with Francis are seen hiding under Georgette's bed cover with half of Georgette's body sticking out, Dodger and Rita posing as dog statue replicas and Tito hanging on a coat hanger of the door. Winston finds it a bit weird nevertheless, he leaves. When Georgette takes the gang to Jenny's room, they notice Oliver sleeping happily and calmly on his pillow. Rita's the first one convinced he's okay and proposes they "forget the whole thing" but Georgette, eager to get rid of him, convinces them that "he's so traumatized" and when Winston's voice is heard again, she hands him to them in a pillow sack held by Einstein and Francis and allows them to escape through the fire escape.
After Oliver's "rescue," and it turns out that he wanted to stay with Jenny thus, Rita realizes she was right about not taking him away from his new home in the first place. After having a talk with Dodger, Rita and the rest of the gang are sad to see their friend go and Oliver leaves but is also sad and full of sorrow. Then, Fagin comes in and takes Oliver back in. When Fagin notices Oliver's new golden collar tag, he has an idea for ransoming him.
After Fagin, Oliver, and Dodger's rendez-vouz with Sykes and his Dobermans, Rita and the dogs are seen waiting with Fagin and Oliver, in his pocket, for their rendez-vous with Oliver's unknown wealthy cat owner (Jenny) while Rita's worried about Dodger but, he assures her that "they (Roscoe and DeSoto) never laid a paw on me." After Fagin and Jenny have a small conversation with Sykes and his dogs unnoticeably watching them in his car, Jenny turns out to be Oliver's owner with only a piggy bank as payment to get Oliver back and starts crying. Fagin at first has a hard decision about whether to follow his good heart or not then, he gives up and pretends to find Oliver in a box and hands him to Jenny. Unfortunately, Sykes bursts into the scene, kidnaps Jenny, throws Oliver out of the window, and tells Fagin to keep his mouth shut and to consider their account closed.
Then, Dodger and the gang come to Oliver's aid. Dodger assures and promises Oliver that they'll "absitively" get Jenny back. The dogs run to Sykes' warehouse without riding in Fagin's scooter this time. After an inspection of the warehouse has been made by Francis and Tito, it turns out everything is locked up so now, Dodger comes up with a plan on how to get inside. As the plan is set with Francis as the first "cannonball," Oliver as the second "cannonball," and Tito as the "maestro," Rita and the gang call for Francis to see if he's ready and he is, thus jumping on the seesaw and launching Oliver up and through a window and inside. After Oliver opens a hatch from the inside, everyone enters in as well. The gang do everything they can to avoid their enemies (Roscoe and DeSoto, who were alerted by the noise Oliver made when entering and later, by Georgette's scream because of a broken nail when she entered the place) and security cameras (taken care of by Tito).
From the top of Sykes' office, Oliver and the dogs observe Sykes talking on the phone to Winston for ransom and Jenny's okay but tied up. Dodger comes up with a plan on how to distract Sykes and help Jenny. The Dobermans are later alerted by their enemies' smell. While Tito, Francis, and Einstein distract Sykes by posing as a Pizza delivery guy and luring him away, Oliver and the rest of the dogs enter and try to rescue Jenny. Oliver and Jenny are happily reunited. The rest of the gang shows up after having distracted their enemies.
Chewing the ropes off Jenny fails and their enemies return, not before Dodger has another idea to get them out of here with a crane and Tito, first reluctant then cooperative with Georgette's persuasion, as the mechanic. They manage to escape with Jenny before Sykes and his dogs break down the door, which the gang locked up earlier, in pieces. Things go well until Sykes cuts off the controls of the crane with a fire axe; causing Oliver and the rest to fall and land on a long slide. They slide until they reach the end where, unfortunately, their enemies have them cornered.
When all seems lost and before Sykes can snap his fingers to order his dogs to attack, they hear a honking noise, and breaking in through the window, it turns out to be Fagin with his scooter. Oliver and everyone else jump in and drive away as fast as they can. They seem to be able to outrun the two evil dogs but not before Sykes manages to catch up with them in his limo. Fagin, having no choice, drives his friends into a subway station but Sykes, driving like a madman, is able to drive in as well. Fagin then drives them through a tunnel with Sykes still in pursuit. When Sykes' car collides with Fagin's scooter, Jenny falls and ends up on Sykes' hood. Rita and the rest of the dogs are seen barking and growling at their enemies, while Oliver helps Jenny, later Dodger, and Dodger helps Oliver; killing Roscoe and DeSoto. On the Brooklyn Bridge, when Jenny is calling for Fagin's help, Fagin comes to help her while Tito takes command of his scooter. Sykes manages to grab Jenny's leg and pull her back in, not before Oliver and Dodger jump on him and fight him off; allowing Jenny to jump to Fagin on his scooter.
In front of them, a train is coming their way. Tito is capable of saving everyone by jumping on one of the cables of the bridge and driving them to the top but Oliver and Dodger are still in the car; fighting Sykes. Sykes throws Oliver and Dodger out of his car until he notices the train heading his way and the train kills him, thus, sending him and his car into the Hudson River. When the rest of the company drive back down, Jenny runs to search for Oliver, only to find a sad Dodger approaching; holding a "thought to be dead" Oliver. At first, everyone thinks he's dead but, when Jenny hears a soft meow from Oliver, she quickly realizes that Oliver is alive and everyone is rejoiced, except Georgette, who is still in great shock from the chase. Then, Dodger and the rest of the gang are accepted as Jenny's new best friends.
The next day, at Jenny's home, Oliver and his friends are celebrating Jenny's eighth birthday and giving her birthday gifts, mostly Einstein. When it's time to go, the gang (except Tito) say their good-byes to Oliver and vice versa.
Rita is finally seen joining in with her friends at the end of the reprise of "Why Should I Worry" and driving in Fagin's scooter back home.
Rita can be briefly seen along with some of the dog-gang members in the opening theme.
- "Cut it out, you two."
- "Fagin's not gonna be too happy about this. So, Francis, you got the food, right?"
- "Frankie. It was your turn to get the food today."
- "So how'd you do it this time, Dodgie baby?"
- "Well, what is it?"
- "Cool it, guys. It's just a cat."
- "Now, how'd you find this place, cat?"
- "Shut up, Tito!"
- "Relax, kid."
- "I kind of like those burning eyes."
- "Oh, what a bunch of overgrown... Oof! All right. That's it."
- "Run along, Roscoe. Your master's calling."
- "We gotta clean you up, child, and give you some on-the-job training."
- (singing Streets of Gold)
- "Where's the kid?"
- "Oh, that poor little kid."
- "What are we gonna do, Dodge?"
- "So, where's the kid?"
- "Guys, we can't let the kid take the heat for us."
- "Huh, this place looks pretty nice. I mean, how bad off could it be here?"
- "Excuse me, uh, sister. Who's Rex?"
- "Look at him, Dodger. Honey, let's just forget the whole thing."
- "You okay, kid?"
- "We never should've took him, Dodger."
- "Oh, Dodge."
- "What're we gonna do, Dodge?"
- "Hey, see ya 'round, kid."
- (singing Why Should I Worry reprise)
- Rita is often thought by some people to be an Afghan Hound, but she's actually a Saluki.
- Although she has no apparent attraction to Sykes, Rita is perhaps the closest counterpart to Nancy, the prositute who befriends the titular hero in Oliver Twist, the Dickens novel that inspired the animated film. Unlike Nancy however, Rita survives.
- Although Ruth Pointer provided her singing voice in "Streets of Gold," she didn't reprise the role during the "Why Should I Worry" reprise at the end of the movie.
- Despite Tito being the only dog to continuously call Francis; "Frank" or "Frankie," Rita and Einstein were first heard calling him Frankie once when they were disappointed to find out that he forgot it was his turn to get the food for them the day Dodger met Oliver.
- Whitney Houston was considered for the role of Rita.
Characters: Oliver | Dodger | Fagin | Tito | Rita | Francis | Einstein | Georgette | Jenny Foxworth | Winston | Penny (deleted) | Rufus (deleted) | Bill Sykes | Roscoe and DeSoto | Oliver's Old Kitten Friends | Louie the Hot Dog Man | Alley dogs