Longtime Sesame Street actor Emilio Delgado died on Thursday morning, his wife Carol told TMZ. He was 81. Delgado starred as Luis Rodriguez, who ran the Fix-It Shop on Sesame Street, for over four decades.
Delgado's wife Carol told TMZ the actor died at his home in New York City, surrounded by family. He was recently in hospice care. The actor was diagnosed with the blood cancer Multiple myeloma in December 2020. Carol said her husband recently recorded voiceover work in January 2022 and worked on the stage right up until the coronavirus pandemic forced theaters to close.
Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of Emilio Delgado, known the world over for his role as Luis on Sesame Street. 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.— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) March 11, 2022
"Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of Emilio Delgado, known the world over for his role as Luis on Sesame Street," Sesame Workshop said in a statement. "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."
Delgado was born in Calexico, California, but was raised in Mexicali, Mexico. His family moved to Glendale, California when he was a teenager. After serving in the California National Guard, Delgado began his acting career in 1968. In 1970, he was the artistic director for the Mexican-American Centre of Creative Arts.
In 1971, the Sesame Street producers were looking for a way to add Spanish-language segments to the show. During the third season, Delgado joined the cast as Luis as the owner of The Fix-It Shop and played a key role in coordinating the Children's Television Workshop's Bilingual Task Force. Although he expected the role to be short-lived, he stayed on Sesame Street until 1988. Later that same year, he was brought back and Luis got engaged to Sonia Manzano's character Maria. Delgado stated on Sesame Street until 2016 when the show was re-tolled. However, he continued to appear in TV specials, including Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration. He also played Luis in the 1985 movie Follow That Bird.
"The only thing that we have tried to do is create a window to the world out there... all of the beautiful things in the world, so that the children can be exposed to other things besides what they know themselves-that are still human beings, and that we can all live together," Delgado told CNN in 2015. "We are all living in the same neighborhood, different people from different backgrounds, different ethnicities-speaking different languages. It was the perfect ideal for what America could be."
Outside of Sesame Street, Delgado made dozens of appearances on television shows. He had a recurring role as Rubin Castillo in Lou Grant, opposite Ed Asner. He also made multiple appearances on Law & Order shows and had a part in a House of Cards episode.