Carmen Zapata Dies: 'Sister Act', 'Granada' Actress Was 86

11:17 AM EST 1/8/2014 by Virginia Favis, Celebeat Reporter

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Actress Carmen Zapata has died at the age of 86. The actress passed away at her home in Van Nuys on Sunday, Jan. 6 due to complications from heart failure, according to Variety.

Colleagues said to People that it was due to heart problems. The Los Angeles' Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, which the actress co-founded, also revealed that the actress has been dealing with an illness and the heart condition for quite some time now.

Luis Vela, the marketing manager for the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts said that the Zapata was an inspiration for him: "She taught me that art is the key to resolving differences in the community." 

The actress has been a part of many movies such as Death in Granada with Andy Garcia and known most widely to audiences through her role as a choir nun in Sister Act. She also has television credits that include the following: Falcon Crest, The Bold Ones, Law and Dr. Quinn, The New Dick Van Dyke Show and many others.

The actress was a native New Yorker with a Mexican father and Argentine mother. In 1990, she was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain. She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003. She was a "leading force" in showcasing Latino culture in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Vela also recalled how Zapata wanted to be remembered- whether as an artist, a producer or a founder. Her answer was: "'I prefer people remember us as educators.' "

The last time that Vele saw the actress was on Christmas Eve.

"Everyone who worked with her felt she had created something really important and was making our community a better place," he revealed. "She was emphatic that what we were doing at the foundation was more important than personal recognition."

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