Emilio Delgado made Latino kids feel ‘seen … and sunny’


After news of Emilio Delgado’s death broke, social media swelled with sincere condolences, memories and reminiscences about how the late actor’s warmhearted character Luis Rodriguez touched their childhoods.

The actor and singer who played the Fix-it Shop owner on PBS’ “Sesame Street,” died Thursday in his New York home at 81 after a yearlong battle with multiple myeloma — a type of blood cancer.

Sesame Workshop tweeted a statement Thursday night affirming that “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.’“

Many celebrities took to Twitter to mourn the star’s death.

“I need a moment,”“Community” star Yvette Nicole Brown wrote. “With this loss, I think we all do.”

Author David Kamp tweeted, “RIP you proud Chicano, consummate entertainer & sweet man. … He & Sonia Manzano made Latin-American kids feel seen, accepted, and sunny.”

“Luis and Maria were the only Brown people I ever saw on TV as a kid,” wrote American Poet Erika Sánchez. “Sesame Street was how I learned to speak English. That show has always been ahead of the times. I love that my daughter watches it now.”

“Although I never met him in person, Emilio was a friend to me and to my entire generation,” tweeted actor Anson Mount, who stars in the upcoming series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”

“Thank you, Emilio, for your patience, for your kindness and for introducing me to the power of both education and television,” Mount said.

Even one Muppet character grieved the actor’s death.

“I’ll never forget my friend Emilio Delgado. I have so many memories of singing, laughing, and learning a lot with him on Sesame Street. We’ll miss you, Luis,” Kermit the Frog tweeted

Delgado joined “Sesame Street’s” third season in 1971, when he was 30, and for more than four decades he influenced how Latino men were portrayed in the media.

“There really wasn’t any representation of actual people,” Delgado said in a 2021 interview on the YouTube series “Famous Last Words,” adding that “most of the roles that I went out for were either for bandits or gang members.”

“These were ethnic slurs, they’re stereotypes of people,” he said later. “Not the way people really are, my people really are.”

Although Delgado was diagnosed in December 2020, he gave interviews until his health started to decline the next year.

“I don’t remember ever reading for any kind of a positive character. The only roles that I could find were gang members or drug addicts,” Delgado said in the documentary “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street,” which featured many of the show’s prominent characters and visionaries.

“I realized I had gotten a role on television that was a role of a Latino, Mexican American, who was like a regular person. He was part of the neighborhood, he had his own business. It was a role that hadn’t been shown before,” the late actor said in the doc.

Delgado made appearances in many shows other than “Sesame Street,” including “Law & Order,” “House of Cards, “Hawaii Five-O” and “Lou Grant.”

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