Actor Emilio Delgado, who brought joy to many for decades as the Fix-It-Shop owner Luis on the beloved children’s series Sesame Street, has passed away at the age of 81.
According to reports, the actor passed away on Thursday (March 10th) in New York City, surrounded by family and loved ones. A statement from Sesame Workshop communicated their feelings on his loss: “Emilio Delgado, who played Luis on Sesame Street, passed away on March 10, 2022. A beloved member of the Sesame family for over 50 years, his warmth and humor invited children to share a friendship that has echoed through generations. At the forefront of representation, Emilio proudly laid claim to the ‘record for the longest-running role for a Mexican-American in a TV series.’ We are so grateful he shared his talents with us and with the world.” His wife, Carole, disclosed that Delgado succumbed to multiple myeloma, which he was diagnosed with two years prior.
Born in Calexico, California, Delgado got into acting in high school and made his mark in local productions until his professional debut on television in the Mexican-American soap opera Cancion de la Raza. He joined PBS’ Sesame Street in 1971, playing the engaging Luis who was an aspiring writer in addition to being the dependable handyman in the neighborhood. His character was created to facilitate the desire of show creators to have more Mexican and Puerto Rican representation. This led to Sonia Manzano joining the cast as Maria, who would work in the shop with Luis. The two characters were notable for having an on-screen courtship that helped to teach young children all about love, and it culminated in one of the show’s best moments as the two characters got married in 1988.
Delgado’s impact was also seen as a singer, where he performed at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. He also appeared with the California Shakespeare Theater in Quixote Nuevo, a modernized portray of the classic Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes several years ago. He also was a director of the Barrio Theatre in Los Angeles, and he was a steadfast advocate for social justice, serving on the board of directors at the Bayard Rustin Center For Social Justice in New York City with his wife. Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio honored the actor by creating “Emilio Delgado Day” on October 15th, 2019 to celebrate Latino heritage and achievement while recognizing his successes.