VAN NUYS - Veteran actress Carmen Zapata, who appeared regularly on television, in movies and on stage during a nearly 70-year career, died of heart failure at her home Sunday night, according to the Hollywood Reporter. She was 86.

Zapata also co-founded Los Angeles’ Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in 1973 to showcase Latino talent and culture, especially for young audiences. The 99- seat Carmen Zapata Theatre in Lincoln Heights was named in her honor.

“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,” Foundation officials said in a statement.

 

The native New Yorker, born to a Mexican father and an Argentine mother, was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1990. In 2003, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Zapata may have been best known for her role as one of the nuns in the 1992 hit movie “Sister Act,” and its 1993 sequel, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” She also starred on the NBC daytime soap, “Santa Barbara.”

At various times she was also a teacher, producer, translator, lecturer and narrator.

“She was vital, she was intense, she was dynamic and rooted in the things that she believed in,” Lina Montalvo, the Foundation’s managing director, told KPCC. “She worked very hard.”