According to her organization, Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, Zapata had been dealing with an illness and a heart condition for some time.
Zapata worked to preserve Latin American culture in our community, but she was also an actress who took on many roles.
In her career, Zapata did Broadway, movies and television. She appeared on numerous TV shows, including "Bonanza," "The Bold Ones," "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." She's also known for her appearance on the soap opera, "Santa Barbara," as well as her role as one of the choir nuns in the "Sister Act" movies.
Her resume was as long as her smile was bright. During her career, good roles didn't always come easy for a Latina in show business. But Zapata worked hard to change that.
The actress, teacher, producer, lecturer, narrator and translator spent decades in show business, even getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.
In Los Angeles, she co-founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in 1973. For 40 years, it's been dedicated to bringing Latin culture to Southern California via the medium of bilingual stage productions. She produced more than 80 plays herself.