Fast Facts

  • In the early 1970s, after completing college, moved to California and became a Los Angeles County social worker.
  • Took drama class in 1973 at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles. After she won an acting competition held by the school, decided to pursue a career in acting.  
  • Made first TV appearance in the 1974 made-for-TV drama I Love You...Goodbye.
  • Assisted in the creation of the Latino Theater Company in Los Angeles.
  • Appeared in the stage and movie adaptations of Zoot Suit and Real Women Have Curves.  
  • Won a National Board of Review award and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance in the 2000 film Chuck & Buck. 
  • Provided voice of Abuela Elena in the PBS animated series Maya and Miguel. 
  • Narrated the 2005 Independent Lens PBS documentary Maid in America, which featured women who work as domestics. By her own account, she has portrayed a maid more than 150 times in her career. 
  • Recipient of the National Hispanic Media Coalition Lifetime Achievement Award.


  • 2001, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Female: Nominee
  • 2002, Sundance Film Festival — Special Jury Prize for Acting (Dramatic): Winner
  • 2005, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Nominee


  • Alejandro Ontiveros — Son
  • Elias Ontiveros — Husband
  • Juan Moreno — Father
  • Lucita Castañon — Mother
  • Elias Patrick Ontiveros — Son
  • Nicholas Ontiveros — Son


  • Texas Women's University, Denton, TX

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  • Birth Name: Guadalupe Moreno
  • Birth Place: El Paso, TX
  • Died: July 26, 2012
  • Profession: Actor, AIDS activist

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