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Lupe Ontiveros Dead: Star of 'Selena' And 'As Good As It Gets' Dies

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LUPE ONTIVEROS
Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

Lupe Ontiveros has died. She was 69.

The iconic Mexican-American actress, who is perhaps best known for playing the convicted murderer Yolanda Saldivar in "Selena," passed away yesterday, TMZ is reporting.

She was reportedly suffering from liver cancer.

Ontiveros, who built her career on playing immigrant characters, told NPR in 2009 that she had played a maid more than 150 times, including on the sitcom "Reba," "Who's The Boss" and in films like "Charlie's Angels."

"You've got maids and you've got maids," she said. "You got maids that have longevity beyond what you ever conceived of in your wildest dreams. I'll give you an example — The Goonies. Those that got hooked — I have a whole following of 30-year-olds who got hooked. Oh my gosh, I'm a heroine to them."

After playing so many maids throughout her career, Ontiveros said, "I long to play a judge. I long to play a lesbian woman. I long to play a councilman, someone with some chutzpah."

Ontiveros' other credits include "As Good As It Gets," "Hill Street Blues," and "Desperate Housewives"--for which she was nominated for an Emmy.

Aside from being a Latina icon, and an immensely talented actress, Ontiveros should also be credited with opening doors and breaking down barriers for the new generation of Latina stars. In that same NPR interview, Ontiveros talked about Latina actresses like Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek and her friend America Ferrera, and said they have opportunities she never had.

"{America Ferrera} probably has already formulated the kinds of roles she will or will not accept. She doesn't have to sacrifice her identity, her culture or her dignity to become a star," she said.

TMZ also reports that Ontiveros' "Selena" co-star Jacob Vargas was at her bedside last night and tweeted, "My friend Lupe Ontiveros just passed away. May you rest in peace. Thank you for your great contribution to film and TV. You will be missed."

Ontiveros is survived by her husband and three adult children.

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Lupe Ontiveros Dies -- 'Selena' Actress Dead at 69