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Tonita Castro, an actress who has appeared on TV sitcoms Go On, Dads, The Grinder and Life in Pieces, died on Sunday after a battle with stomach cancer, her agent said. She was 63.
“She was a self-made woman in the industry,” Nikkolas Rey, her agent of 10 years, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “She had a gift of comedy. She would make a joke about anything.”
The Latino actress came to the U.S. from Mexico in the late 1970s and began her career in radio. In 2005, she left radio to pursue acting.
She appeared on film in Funny People and Imagine That in 2009, but it was when she landed a recurring roll on Matthew Perry’s Go On, which aired on NBC from 2012-2013, that things began to change for Castro.
“She wasn’t the maid anymore,” says Rey, owner of Alvarado Rey Agency, about Castro, who also appeared on Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program and The Kroll Show. “I would ask her if she would get nervous working with people like Perry or Adam Sandler, but she had nerves of steel. She kept them on their toes and would improv with them and that’s why they liked her. That’s a gift she had and that’s why she worked with so many people.”
The following year, she landed another recurring role as Edna in the Seth Green comedy Dads, which ran on Fox for two seasons. Most recently, she appeared in the pilot for Rob Lowe’s Grinder on Fox and in two episodes of CBS’ Life in Pieces, as Tonita, the grandmother to Thomas Sadoski’s onscreen girlfriend, Collen, played by Angelique Cabral.
It was on the set of Life in Pieces when Rey says Castro first felt that she was sick, and soon after was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
“She was doing the best stuff of her career — she was getting offers. It was a big loss for me and so many people who loved her,” Rey says. “The most important thing about her was she was so wonderful and authentic and energetic. She was always positive.”
Castro leaves behind her husband.
RIP Tonita Castro, brilliant effortless actress and radio star. Caretaker of many, beloved by all who knew her. pic.twitter.com/ntNxhPZ8QK
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) May 12, 2016
RIP Tonita Castro. She was perfect as Suela on Kroll Show & everything else. Hilarious woman & a beautiful soul. pic.twitter.com/zUCLVr4ZGq
— nick kroll (@nickkroll) May 12, 2016
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