Legendary actress Lupe Ontiveros, who received an Emmy nomination for her role as Eva Longoria’s prying mother-in-law in "Desperate Housewives," died of liver cancer Thursday night in a hospital in Whittier. She was 69.
Her agent, Michael Greenwald, told reporters she was surrounded by friends and family, including actorsand .
"Lupe Ontiveros was a gift," actor Edward James Olmos told The Times on Friday. "She was part of the evolutionary process of the art form of Latino storytelling in the last 30-plus years. She was one of the true pioneers of the Latin artistic movement in theater, film and television."
Jacob Vargas, Lupe Ontiveros' "Selena" co-star, was at her bedside when she breathed her last. He told CNN that Ontiveros was diagnosed with cancer in January of this year, but had kept it secret from her friends and family.
Lupe Ontiveros played unforgettable roles during her career of more than 35 years including that of a murderous fan in “Selena” and the tradition-bound, domineering mother in the 2002 film "Real Women Have Curves." The latter brought her a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002.
The 4-foot-11 actress, daughter of Mexican immigrants, once estimated that she had played the role of a house maid more or less 150 times in films, TV and theatre. Lupe Ontiveros was ecstatic when director
"He said, 'Look at the part of Beverly,'" Ontiveros said in an interview in 2009. "I said, 'Beverly? You said Beverly? Her name is Beverly?' And I said, 'I'll do it. I don't care what the script is about, because her name is Beverly.' It wasn't Maria Guadalupe Conchita Esperanza, this Latino stereotype."
Born in 1942 in El Paso, Texas, Lupe Ontiveros became a household name after she played the role of a tough theater house manager in the 2000 movie "Chuck & Buck” to perfection. She received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for the Mike White comedy. In 2005, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest star role as Juanita "Mama" Solis on "Desperate Housewives."
The veteran Mexican-American actress appeared in several movies including "El Norte," "The Goonies,” "As Good As It Gets” and "Storytelling.” Her TV work included the 1993 series "Dudley" and the 2002-03 series "Greetings from Tucson."
Lupe Ontiveros, who lived in Pico Riveria, California, is survived by her husband of 46 years, Elias Ontiveros Jr.; her sons, Nicholas, Alejandro and Elias P. Ontiveros; and two grandchildren.