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Sesame Street Actor Emilio Delgado Is Dead At 81

Screenshot of Emilio Delgado as Luis on Sesame Street
(Image credit: Sesame Workshop)

Although Sesame Street has brought joy to children going all the way back to the 1960s, there is now some sad news about one beloved member of the cast who appeared in multiple decades of the show. Emilio Delgado, known for playing repairman (and one of the few human characters) Luis, has died at the age of 81. 

Emilio Delgado made his debut on Sesame Street as Luis in 1971, just a couple of years into the show's long (and ongoing) run. His wife Carole Delgado told TMZ that he passed away at his home in New York City on Thursday, March 10. He was surrounded by his family and died after recently entering hospice care due to his blood cancer diagnosis in late 2020. He is survived by wife Carole, and two children.

Luis became a beloved part of the Sesame Street ensemble when he debuted in 1971, and Emilio Delgado remained on board at the show for nearly 50 years, during which time viewers saw Luis marry his wife Maria in 1988, and then have a daughter by the name of Gabi in 1989. The two characters helped bring Hispanic culture to the show, and the generation of children who watched. 

Based on comments from Delgado himself, his positive influence over the years as Luis was very "meaningful" for him. Prior to his death, he was quoted by CalArts as saying of his time on Sesame Street

People have come up to me and said, ‘You were such a positive influence. I learned how to speak English by watching you. You were the only one on television who looked like me. Luis was important in people’s lives. In my life, I’ve always wanted to challenge stereotypes of Latinos, but in the 1960s, when my acting career was starting, there were very few roles that were meaningful. Most roles for Latinos were demeaning. People protested that this was not right, but Hollywood was slow to change.

His time at Sesame Street wasn't entirely without complications, as he was one of three longtime cast members who were announced to no longer be part of the show back in 2016, although Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeff Dunn subsequently clarified that Luis and the other two would always be "a key part of the Sesame family." Emilio Delgado leaves behind a strong legacy for his role as a beloved figure from Sesame Street. As Luis, he was also known to liven things up with the occasional song. Take a look:

Although undoubtedly best known for his role as Luis on Sesame Street, he also appeared in a number of other TV projects, including two episodes of Law & Order: SVU (as two different characters, as happens with such long-running dramas). He also appeared in Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as shows like The Michael J. Fox Show and The Get Down

Emilio Delgado's death at the age of 81 is certainly sad, but fans can honor him by remembering his contributions to generations of children, and all that he brought to Sesame Street as Luis. You can also revisit his days on the iconic show with Sesame Street streaming on HBO Max. Our thoughts here at CinemaBlend go out to the family, friends, and loved ones of Delgado at this difficult time. 

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.