Deaths of note: Alicia Rhett, Barbara Lawrence, Carmen Zapata

January 8
Alicia Rhett
actress

Alicia Rhett, an actress who played one of the sisters of Ashley Wilkes in “Gone With the Wind,” died Jan. 3 at a retirement home in Charleston, S.C. She was 98.

Kimberly Farfone Borts, a spokeswoman for the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community, confirmed the death. The cause was not disclosed.

Ms. Rhett had been the oldest living cast member of the 1939 film starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Other surviving cast members include Olivia de Havilland, 97, who played Ashley Wilkes’s cousin and wife, Melanie Hamilton; Mary Anderson, 93, who played Maybelle Merriweather; and Mickey Kuhn, 81, who played Beau Wilkes.

Ms. Rhett was a native of Savannah, Ga., and in the movie played India Wilkes, a sister of Ashley Wilkes, with whom Scarlett O’Hara (played by Leigh) is deeply in love before Ashley marries Melanie.

Ms. Rhett also was a portrait artist who sketched her fellow “Gone With the Wind” actors between takes of the film.

Barbara Lawrence
actress

Barbara Lawrence, an actress who played Gertie Cummings in the 1955 movie “Oklahoma!” and had several other film roles, died Nov. 13. She was 83 or 85, according to conflicting reports.

Her daughter-in-law Christy Nelson announced the death Jan. 3. The cause was kidney failure.

Ms. Lawrence was born in Oklahoma and began acting in movies in the 1940s. She had roles in the critically acclaimed “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949), “Her Twelve Men” (1954), starring Greer Garson, and the 1957 sci-fi film “Kronos.”

Her TV work included episodes of “Perry Mason” and “Bonanza” before she retired from acting in 1962.

Ms. Lawrence later became an author, publicist and real estate agent in Beverly Hills.

Carmen Zapata
actress

Carmen Zapata, an Emmy-nominated actress who started a foundation to promote Hispanic writers because jobs were so scarce, died Jan. 5 at her home in the Van Nuys, Calif., area. She was 86.

Her death was confirmed by Luis Vela, marketing manager for the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in Los Angeles. The cause was heart ailments.

Ms. Zapata started her career in 1945 in the Broadway musical “Oklahoma!” and went on to perform in “Bells Are Ringing,” “Guys and Dolls” and in many plays.

Her movie credits included “Sister Act” and “Carola.” She also appeared in dozens of television series, including nine seasons on the PBS bilingual children’s show “Villa Alegre.”

Ms. Zapata had continuing TV roles in “The Man and the City” and “The New Dick Van Dyke Show.” She sang in several musicals, including “Bloomer Girl” “No Strings,” “Show Boat,” “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” and “Funny Girl.”

Born in New York City of Mexican-Argentine descent, Ms. Zapata joined forces with Cuban-born actress, playwright and director Margarita Galban to found the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in 1973.

Ms. Zapata collected Emmy nominations for best supporting actress in a segment of “Medical Center” and for “Carola” on “Hollywood TV Theatre.”

— From news services and staff reports