'Sister Act' actress Carmen Zapata dead at 86
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Carmen Zapata was "an accomplished actress, translator, theater producer, and community leader who was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain," according to the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts.
- Zapata's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honors her work on the stage
- She was "actress, translator, theater producer, and community leader"
- Zapata co-founded a theater group to promote bilingual stage productions
- She was 19 when she made her Broadway debut in the chorus in "Oklahoma"
Los Angeles (CNN) -- Actress Carmen Zapata, whose most visible film role was as a choir nun in "Sister Act," died Sunday at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.
Zapata's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honors her six decades of work on the stage, which began in New York in 1946.
Her death from heart problems was confirmed by a representative at the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in Los Angeles, which Zapata co-founded in 1973.
She was "an accomplished actress, translator, theater producer, and community leader who was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain," according to her biography on the group's website.
Zapata, a Mexican-American born in New York, founded the theater group to promote bilingual stage productions. The goal was to "instill cultural pride to Spanish-speaking audiences, and serve as an introduction to the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences," the website said.
She was 19 when she made her Broadway debut as a member of the chorus in "Oklahoma." She initially performed under the stage name Marge Cameron at a time when discrimination against Hispanic actors was more common.
Her television and film résumé is slim until the 1970s, when she began landing acting jobs on series including "Room 222," "Bonanza" and "McMillan & Wife." In 1971, she was hired for a recurring role on "The New Dick Van Dyke Show."
Other shows that decade in which she appears in multiple episodes include "Adam-12," "Love, American Style," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Medical Center" and "The Streets of San Francisco." She often played different characters in the same series, according to IMDB.com.
Zapata's television roles in the 1980s included several episodes as a nurse in "Trapper John, M.D." and 34 episodes on the TV soap "Santa Barbara."
She was cast as one of the nuns in the choir in Whoopi Goldberg's "Sister Act" in 1992 and the 1993 sequel, "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit."
People we've lost in 2014
CNN's Jane Caffrey contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1022 GMT (1822 HKT)
Nearly 69 years ago, Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk navigated a U.S. B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan, on a sunny August day.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2139 GMT (0539 HKT)
James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career includes the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," has died at age 81.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in "The Patriot," has died at age 21.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multi-generational success on both the small and big screen, has died. He was 86.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Actress Elaine Stritch, known for her brash persona, gravelly voice and versatility over seven decades on Broadway, has died at age 89.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
American blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died in a hotel room in Switzerland at age 70.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2159 GMT (0559 HKT)
Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African author and anti-apartheid activist, has died at age 90.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, has died at age 76.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 2030 GMT (0430 HKT)
Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia at age 84.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
Drummer Tommy Ramone was 65 and the last living original member of The Ramones. Ramone was also one of the band's composers.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 2321 GMT (0721 HKT)
Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress, has died. She was 89.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 2259 GMT (0659 HKT)
"Harry Potter" actor David Legeno has died at age 50, a California sheriff's office said.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0017 GMT (0817 HKT)
Eileen Ford, who founded Ford Model Agency 70 years ago and helped modernize the modeling industry, has died at the age of 92.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1928 GMT (0328 HKT)
The actor who gave voice to Pinocchio in Walt Disney's 1940 animation movie has died. He was 87.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Eduard Shevardnadze, whose political career seesawed between two extremes, has died at age 86.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
Former Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 88.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire publisher and banking heir who financed conservative causes that included attempts to discredit Bill Clinton while he was president, has died.
Today's five most popular stories