Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Carmen Zapata Dead at 86

Carmen Zapata as Carmen Castillo on SANTA BARBARA.
TV, film and stage actress Carmen Zapata died Sunday at her home in Van Nuys. She was 86.

Los Angeles' Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, which she co-founded in 1973, said Zapata had been suffering from a heart condition, KABC-TV reported Monday.

Zapata appeared on dozens of other TV shows during her six-decade career, including FALCON CREST, L.A. LAW, BONANZA, MEDICAL CENTER, THE ROOKIES, CHICO AND THE MAN, MARRIED … WITH CHILDREN, and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.

Off and on from 1985 to 1991 she played Carmen Castillo in the NBC daytime soap opera SANTA BARBARA. Carmen first appeared on the show a few weeks before her son, Cruz (A Martinez), was set to marry his true love, Eden Capwell (Marcy Walker). It took Carmen a while to warm up to Eden but she eventually did.

She played Lupe Sanchez, Julio (Fernando Allende) and Alicia's (Gina Gallego) Puerto Rican mother, in multiple episodes of primetime serial FLAMINGO ROAD.

Zapata also appeared as one of the choir nuns in Sister Act (and its sequel, and played the matriarch on VIVA VALDEZ, a 1976 ABC summer sitcom. For nine seasons, she starred as the mayor on the PBS bilingual kids show VILLA ALEGRE.

Her film résumé also includes her role as the mother of famed poet and dramatist Garcia Lorca in Death in Granada opposite Andy Garcia.

A native New Yorker who was the daughter of a Mexican father and Argentine mother, Zapata was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1990. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.

Zapata made her Broadway debut in the chorus of "Oklahoma!" in 1946 and a decade later starred opposite Geraldine Page in "The Innkeepers."

Zapata founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA) with Cuban-born actress, playwright and director Margarita Galban. The foundation’s Spanish-language theatrical productions are meant to instill cultural pride in Spanish-speaking audiences while introducing Hispanic culture to the English-speaking crowd.

Check out a 1998 scene from SANTA BARBARA featuring Zapata in which Carmen comforted C.C. Capwell (Jed Allan) at the hospital where he waited for news about his daughter, Kelly.


  1. Though not listed on her IMDb profile, another daytime role Zapata played was way back in 1975 as "Sister Theresa" on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. Sister Theresa was the mother superior at the convent that reformed call girl, Gwen Sherman (Jennifer Leak), went to for protection from her pimp who'd already hired thugs to beat up both she and her fiancé, Greg Foster (James Houghton). While there, Gwen decided to become a nun herself, and Sister Theresa counseled her during this time to make sure she was making the right decision to end things with Greg and become "Sister Magdalene."


  2. Sad to hear...may she find eternal peace...she will be missed

  3. Ms. Zapata also appeared on GH as Mrs. Gonzalez in the 80s.