Actress Carmen Zapata dead at 86 (updated)

Carmen Zapata got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.
Carmen Zapata got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003. Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Actress Carmen Zapata died Sunday night in Van Nuys from complications of heart failure, Bilingual Foundation of the Arts managing director Lina Montalvo told KPCC. Zapata was 86.

Zapata founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts 40 years ago and had a career that spanned over six decades, according to a statement by the BFA.

“Thousands of young people have been exposed to the theater arts, helping them to develop their minds, character and maybe the most important for many of them to be in touch with their Hispanic roots and feel proud of their culture,” the BFA said of Zapata’s organization’s reach.

Zapata appeared on numerous TV shows, including "Bonanza," "The Bold Ones," "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," ABC7 reported. She is also known for her appearance on the soap opera, "Santa Barbara," as well as her role as one of the choir nuns in the "Sister Act" movies.

Over the years Zapata wore the hats of actor, comedian, benefactor, producer, translator, teacher, lecturer and narrator, said the BFA, and in 2003 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“She was vital, she was intense she was dynamic and rooted in the things that she believed in and she worked very hard,” Montalvo told KPCC. 

With contributions from KPCC's Rob Strauss, Bianca Ramirez and Jessica Hamlin. 

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