Fresh Air Remembers Actress Lupe Ontiveros

Actress Lupe Ontiveros was known for her roles in the film Selena and the television series Desperate Housewives. i i

hide captionActress Lupe Ontiveros was known for her roles in the film Selena and the television series Desperate Housewives.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Actress Lupe Ontiveros was known for her roles in the film Selena and the television series Desperate Housewives.

Actress Lupe Ontiveros was known for her roles in the film Selena and the television series Desperate Housewives.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Actress Lupe Ontiveros died Thursday of cancer at the age of 69. She was most famous for her role in the 1997 film Selena, but Ontiveros also acted with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, played a strict mother in the independent film Real Women Have Curves and had a recurring role in the television series Desperate Housewives.

Ontiveros was born in El Paso, Texas, and worked as a social worker for many years until, one day, she responded to a newspaper ad looking for movie extras. She went on to work in Hollywood for more than 30 years, playing maids in many of the films she was cast in.

In a 2002 interview, Ontiveros told Fresh Air's Terry Gross that she always played the role of the maid with pride: "Those people that come to bring you the service to your table ... that watch your kids, I think I owe them to give their characters life and love and soul and humor."

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