Some of the country’s most significant Latin stars gathered in Pico Rivera, California Friday afternoon to honor a TV and film legend, whom they called a “pioneer.”
Even President Barack Obama sent a letter of condolences to the family of Lupe Ontiveros recognizing her for her social activism and promoting new talent.
Lupe, who missed her 70th birthday by more than a month, was known for playing maids and pushing the glass ceiling for Hispanics in television and on film. Her most memorable roles: Selena’s killer, Eva Longoria’s mother-in-law in Desperate Housewives and America Ferrera’s mother in Real Women Have Curves.
Longoria, who read a scripture from the Bible, was escorted out of the Saint Hilary Church of Eternal Adoration by That 70s Show’s Wilmer Valderrama. She wrote on Twitter, “My heart is broken today saying goodbye to Lupe Ontiveros at her beautiful funeral.”
Battlestar Galactica actor Edward J. Olmos, who co-starred with Lupe in Selena and Zoot Suit, spoke saying, “We lost the mother of the Chicano culture.”
There were many familiar faces in the crowd of 1,000 people including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sons of Anarchy’s Jimmy Smits, Ugly Betty’s Tony Plana, actress Maria Conchita Alonso, La Bamba director Luis Valdez and La Bamba actor Esai Morales The Big Lebowski star Mike Gomez, Selena director Gregory Nava and American Me’s Evelina Fernandez.
A portrait of Lupe sat outside the church for friends and family to scrawl words of praise including this one: “Thank you for all the joy you brought.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, Lupe went on to become a social worker and never forgot her roots when she became a star; her mission was always to bring dignity to her characters.
Lupe was a tireless advocate for many causes including: the hearing impaired, GLAAD, United Farm Workers, AARP, The Latino Commission on AIDS, and the Latino Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
Her family has asked for donations to be made to GLAAD and the Latino Theatre Company.