Emilio Delgado, who played Lewis on Sesame Street for 45 years, has died
Emilio Delgado, actor and singer who had been warm and familiar with children’s lives for 45 years and owner of a fix-it shop on “Sesame Street”, a rare Latin face on American television, died Thursday.
His wife, Carol Delgado, told the Associated Press that Emilio Delgado died of multiple cancer myeloma at his home in New York. He was 81 years old.
Lewis, Delgado, Mexican American, came to play a common, non-stereotypical Latin character at a time when such portrayal of adults or children was rare on TV.
“There was no representation of real people,” Delgado said in a 2021 interview on the YouTube series “Famous Cast Words.” “Most of the roles I went out for were for bandits or gang members.”
It changed with “Sesame Street”, where various artists, including Jim Henson’s creation Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo and Grover, interacted with different groups of children.
Delgado joined the show, which began in 1971 with a third season. He said the producers accepted his suggestion to include Spanish words in the script.
“The first time I saw Big Bird walking, my line was, ‘Big Bird! Delgado said in a 2021 interview. “But I didn’t say ‘Big Bird’, ‘I said,’ Pajaro! ”
After a quick meeting in which Delgado clarified that “pazaro” means “bird”, the makers decided to keep it.
“Since then I’ve been calling him ‘Pajaro’ every time,” Delgado said.
Delgado was born in 1940 in Calexico, California, near the US-Mexico border and grew up a few miles away in Mexicali, Mexico.
From his home, across the street, from a pair of beer gardens, he could hear music at night.
“I remember sleeping in the voice of Mariachis,” he said in an interview on the 2011 public television series, “Up Close with Patsy Smulin.”
He was enchanted, and with the full support of his proud parents, decided to become an artist, singing and attending school plays whenever possible.
As a young man, he moved to Los Angeles to become an actor and did not have much luck. He received a blue call from the makers of “Sesame Street” in New York.
After an interview with “Sesame Street” producer John Stone, in which he spoke to Delgado but was not asked for any kind of audition, he got the job.
“He didn’t want an actor,” Delgado said in a 2021 interview. “He wanted real people.”
He will be on the show for 45 years, an integral part of the children’s childhood for generations, and a rare character who looks like them to Latino children.
“His kindness and humor invited the children to share the friendship that resonated for generations,” the Sesame Workshop said in a statement Thursday night. “At the forefront of representation, Emilio proudly claims to be the ‘longest-serving role for a Mexican-American in a TV series. We are so grateful that he shared his talent with us and the world.’
“Sesame Street” will allow him to sing regularly and occasionally play the guitar.
Luis Rodriguez (adult characters had surnames, although rarely used) will marry the show’s other lead Latina, Maria Figueroa, played by Sonia Manzano at a show in 1988. The storyline allowed Shola to teach the children. . About love, marriage and childbirth.
“Lewis and Maria were the first Latinos I saw on TV,” Rosie Cordero, a television reporter for Deadline, said on Twitter. “They were a big part of my family. They paved the way. “
He will leave the show in 2016 when his contract was not renewed during retooling.
While Lewis, Figueroa made frequent appearances in theaters and other TV series.
From 1979 to 1982, he played a recurring character in the newspaper drama “Lou Grant,” and several times on “Quincy ME,” “Falcon Crest,” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.”
His death was first reported by TMZ.
Delgado was diagnosed with multiple myeloma at the end of 2020, but was present and interviewed in 2021 until his condition deteriorated.