September 23, 2023

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Sesame Street star Emilio Delgado has died at 81 after cancer battle

Sesame Street star Emilio Delgado, who played the role of Luis the Fix-It Shop owner on the iconic show, died at 81 Thursday at his home.

In addition to an extensive stage career, he had also worked on a number of TV shows throughout the years, including Lou Grant, Quincy M.E., Falcon Crest, The Bravest Knight, kusen aluminium jendela ( Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and House of Cards.

Delgado was born in California and raised in Mexico by his grandparents. He had worked in a fix-it shop and eventually honed his craft in the arts while pursing a career in show business, with his first role on TV coming in 1968 on the Mexican-American soap opera Cancion de la Raza.

Delgado in a 2020 interview with the  said he that when he joined the cast of Sesame Street, he was focused on bringing a positive portrayal of Latino people to the mainstream.

‘I’d been trying all my professional life to be somewhere I can change that, whether I was talking about it or trying to get into a project that showed Latinos in a good light,’ Delgado said. ‘That’s why Sesame Street was such a good thing. For the first time on television, they showed Latinos as real human beings.

‘We weren’t dope addicts. We weren’t maids or prostitutes, which were the way we were being shown in television in film. Here, on Sesame Street, there were different people who spoke different languages and ate interesting foods, and they were all Americans.’

The Calexico, California-born actor had appeared on Sesame Street beginning in 1971, and also performed in stage shows for the franchise

Delgado was seen performing in a clip from the show he spent four decades on

Delgado was seen alongside the Elmo character in an appearance for National Hispanic Heritage Month

The accomplished performer was seen on the set of the iconic series from the Children’s Television Workshop

He was also involved in activism, as in December, he was appointed to the board of directors for the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice in Princeton, New Jersey, which is aimed at helping the LGBTQ community.

He told the  in January that the center was ‘just a continuation of whatever it was Sesame Street was trying to do with inclusion with showing different kinds of people [and] how they lived differently and they spoke different languages or they ate different food.

‘And it was educating all those kids and families out there that had no idea that there were other people out there that were like this, that were different from themselves.’

Delgado added: ‘I would hope that all of the excellent work that’s being done there by the Bayard Rustin Center, that that mentality, that way of doing things, that way of showing people what kindness and love and cooperation is, that it would expand itself to not only New Jersey but to New York and wherever, the whole country.

‘So that everybody can be part of it, can see what can be done that way.’

Delgado was seen celebrating Sesame Street’s 45th anniversary in NYC in 2014 at a Sirius XM  Town Hall

Delgado, who was involved in activism on many fronts, was seen in NYC at a Project Sunshine event in May of 2018

Delgado was seen on the set of the popular series with co-star Sonia Manzano

Delgado said that when he joined the cast of Sesame Street, he was focused on bringing a positive portrayal of Latino people to the mainstream

The center’s Robt Seda-Schreiber praised Delgado and the legacy he had as a trailblazer in entertainment.

‘When you talk to Emilio, at first obviously you are awe-struck because you are talking to Luis, you are talking to the fix-it man on Sesame Street and that’s not for nothing,’ Seda-Schreiber told the outlet. ‘He was the first Mexican-American in that … long-standing role on television, and he was absolutely, as far as representation is concerned, showing us what that community is all about and what being part of a greater community is all about.’

‘But then you talk about Emilio the man, and you see that he’s been doing all of this work. I mean, he was protesting the Vietnam War. He was in the streets. He was with Cesar Chavez with the United Farm Workers … so you’re awe-struck first by Luis, and then you’re totally inspired by Emilio.’

On social media, a number of people paid tribute to the beloved late performer.

Journalist Rosy Cordero wrote, ‘RIP Emilio Delgado. Luis and Maria were the first Latinos I ever saw on TV. They were a huge part of my family. They paved the way. #legend QEPD.’

Writer David Kamp said, ‘RIP you proud Chicano, consummate entertainer & sweet man. Emilio Delgado always announced himself on the phone by saying, “It’s Emilio – Luis from Sesame Street.” As if he needed any introduction! He & Sonia Manzano made Latin-American kids feel seen, accepted, and sunny.’

One user wrote, ‘Thank you for all of the wonderful memories,’ while another said, ‘Rest in peace, your contributions will not be forgotten.’

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