The Tragic Death Of Sesame Street Actor Emilio Delgado

Emilio Delgado, who played Luis Rodriguez on "Sesame Street" for over four decades, has died. He was 81 years old.

His wife Carole Delgado confirmed the news to TMZ, noting he was surrounded by family at their home in New York City at the time of his death. The cause of death was blood cancer multiple myeloma, which he had been diagnosed with since December 2020, according to his agent, Renee Glicker. "We are saddened by the news of Emilio's passing. Emilio was an immense talent who brought so much joy and smiles to his fans," Robert Attermann, CEO of A3 Artists Agency, told CNN in a statement. "He will be missed by many and we know his legacy will live on. Our thoughts are with his loved ones, including his wife, Carole."

Delgado started his long-term tenure in "Sesame Street" in 1971, when the show's producers made an effort to make the popular children's program more diverse and inclusive. His character Luis, the Fix-It Shop owner, ultimately helped change the way people of color were represented in the media.

Emilio Delgado made so many children feel seen

There's no question that Emilio Delgado was a pioneer in Latino representation in American media. In his 2020 interview with The Houston Chronicle, Delgado explained, "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," he shared. "That's why 'Sesame Street' was such a good thing. For the first time on television, they showed Latinos as real human beings." He added, "Here, on 'Sesame Street,' there were different people who spoke different languages and ate interesting foods, and they were all Americans." 

Fans who grew up watching him made sure to recognize his big contribution to representation. "RIP you proud Chicano, consummate entertainer & sweet man... He & Sonia Manzano ['Sesame Street's Maria] made Latin-American kids feel seen, accepted, and sunny," one user said. "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," another tweeted. Someone else said, "99.9% sure Luis was the first Mexican American I ever saw growing up in central Illinois. Representation matters in so many ways. I'll never forget this man."

Indeed, Delgado was a childhood hero for many, and he'll be dearly missed by friends and family.