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Emilio Delgado, ‘Luis’ on ‘Sesame Street’, Passed Away on Thursday and Fans Are Flooding the Internet With Stories of How He Changed Their Lives

Emilio Delgado, the Mexican-American actor who played Luis on “Sesame Street” for more than 40 years, passed away on Thursday at the age of 81. He was survived by his wife, Carole Delgado, and his two adult children. His cause of death was multiple myeloma, which he’d battled since 2020.

Emilio Delgado joined the cast of “Sesame Street” in 1971 as part of the series’ effort to reach more diverse audiences. Along with Sonia Manzano, who played Maria, Delgado infused some much-appreciated Latinidad into the trailblazing series.

Sonia Manzano and Emilio Delgado (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Luis was a handyman and the owner of the Fix-It shop on “Sesame Street.” He was a happy, responsible, professional adult — in direct opposition to the stereotypes that many Latino characters peddled on screen at the time.

“There really wasn’t any representation of actual [Latino] people,” Delgado recently said about the roles he was auditioning for before landing his “Sesame Street” gig. “Most of the roles that I went out for were either for bandits or gang members.”

“If somebody presents a role to me that’s a drug smuggler or a bandito or he’s doing ugly things to kids, I’m not going to do that,” he explained, giving testament to his values and high integrity.

Both Luis and Maria (who later became his “wife” on TV) shared their respective cultures on “Sesame Street,” sprinkling Spanish throughout their dialogue and playing Latin music. Delgado was a talented singer and guitarist, and would often perform kid-friendly boleros for the “Sesame Street” audience.

In a time when Latino representation on-air was rare, Emilio Delgado was the role model that so many Latino children looked up to on screen.

Fans of Emilio Delgado took to Reddit to express both their gratitude and grief over the life and loss of such a cultural icon in a bittersweet thread. Read on for some of the most touching comments people had to say.

Many users felt nostalgic while remembering the impact that Delgado had on their childhood.

“I spent most of my early years with Luis, Maria, and all the early-mid 80’s cast members. They were the start to every day until I went off to school, and I have no doubt I started ‘ahead’ for all the knowledge gained from the show. My heart is sad tonight.” — MrsSamT82

“He might as well have been Uncle Luis to a few million of us. He and the rest of the cast (and separately Fred Rogers) helped play a critical role in being the parental guidance for those who didn’t have what was viewed as normalcy at home or had single or essentially no parents. Luis had such a wonderful demeanor and relaxed cadence. He was like that Uncle you might have who always had a smile upon seeing you and always showed patience and kindness.” — MiyamotoKnows

Other users brought up specific memories that stood out to them about his time on “Sesame Street,” like when the actor’s broken arm became a plot line or when he got married to Maria.

“I loved Luis. I loved his Fix It Shop and his relationship with Maria. Sad news indeed. Anyone around my age (40) remember the episodes where he had a broken arm?” — krissym99

“Yep, he had ‘The Broken Arm Blues.’ I also remember when he and Maria got married and I spent years thinking they were actually married to each other and that Gabi was their real kid.” — Foxy-Knoxy

Others brought up specific instances where they met Delgado face-to-face and he was actually just as kind as the character he portrayed on TV.

“Had the pleasure of working with Emilio and the other cast members of Sesame Street for a special program at a hospital in NYC during the holiday season. Once we were done with this special, he then invited myself and other members of the hospital to his house for a post-holiday party. Everything you would expect of them being literal wholesome people is very real.” — thisisthesaleh

And of course, a ton of commenters revealed how simply seeing Delgado playing a Latino character on “Sesame Street” made them feel less alone as a kid.

“Rip sir. You was part of my childhood and one of the reason I was happy every time hearing a Latino name on tv as a kid.” — fn2200

“This hits hard. Luis and Maria made me feel like my family belonged; because if people that looked like my family belonged on Sesame Street, then we belonged anywhere.” — Technics3345

Que descanse en paz, Señor Delgado. You will be missed.

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