LOS ANGELES — Veteran actress Lupe Ontiveros, who had roles in scores of television shows and films, including ‘‘Desperate Housewives,’’ “Selena’’ and ‘‘As Good As It Gets,’’ has died at 69.
Ms. Ontiveros died Thursday at a hospital in Whittier, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, after a brief battle with liver cancer, longtime friend and family spokesman Jerry Velasco said.
She was perhaps best known for her role in ‘‘Selena,’’ a 1997 biopic based on the life of the Tejano pop star. Ms. Ontiveros played Yolanda Saldivar, who in real life was convicted of killing Selena Quintanilla. The film helped launch the career of Jennifer Lopez in the title role.
But that was only one of her roles. She worked steadily in TV and film for more than 35 years.
‘‘I want to go from the set to the grave,’’ Ms. Ontiveros said in 2010 in receiving a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.
Her credits include ‘‘Real Women Have Curves,’’ TV’s ‘‘Desperate Housewives,’’ and — as in ‘‘The Goonies’’ — many turns as a housekeeper. She once estimated she played a maid more than 300 times.
‘‘I’ve had a hell of a good time playing those maids,’’ she told LA Weekly in 2002. ‘‘Each one to me is very special . . . No matter how much I resent the stupidity that is written into them, the audacity that the industry has when they portray us in such a nonsensical, idiotic, such — oh my God! — such a degrading manner, still, my humor survives in these maids. I’m very proud of them.’’
Born Guadalupe Moreno in El Paso, Ms. Ontiveros caught the acting bug in 1972 when she answered a newspaper ad for movie extras. She went on to help establish the Latino Theater Company in Los Angeles and advocated for Latino performers during her career.