Emilio Delgado

Emilio Ernest Delgado[1] (May 8, 1940 – March 10, 2022) was an American actor best known for his role as Luis, the Fix-it Shop owner, on the children's television series Sesame Street. Delgado joined the cast of Sesame Street in 1971 and remained until his contract was not renewed in 2016, as part of Sesame Workshop's re-tooling of the series.[2]

Emilio Delgado
Emilio Delgado.jpg
Delgado as Luis on Sesame Street
Emilio Ernest Delgado

(1940-05-08)May 8, 1940
DiedMarch 10, 2022(2022-03-10) (aged 81)
Years active1968–2022
TelevisionSesame Street
Barbara Snavely
(m. 1963; div. 1975)

Linda Lee Moon
(m. 1977; div. 1984)

Carole Delgado
(m. 1990)

Following his departure, the workshop stated that Delgado would continue to represent them at public events.[3] Delgado also appeared as Luis in the TV special Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration.[4] He began his professional career in Los Angeles in 1968. Delgado lived in New York City with his wife Carole and also served on the board of directors at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, an LGBT safe-place, community activist center, and educational bridge dedicated to honoring Bayard Rustin through their mission and good works.[5]

Life and careerEdit

Childhood, education and early rolesEdit

Delgado was born in Calexico, California, to Emilio Delgado and Carmen Rodriguez Delgado on May 8, 1940.[6]

He was raised in his grandparents' house in Mexicali, Mexico, with his poor extended family.[7] As a citizen of the United States, he would walk daily to attend a public school in Calexico.[7] He began working odd jobs as a ten year old, and at his uncle's bicycle shop at age 12. His family moved to Glendale, California when he was a teenager. During high school, three years of which he attended Glendale High School, he became president of the Thespian Club, played trombone both in their orchestra and a jazz band, and was a drum major in the marching band.[7]

Delgado was "adamantly and morally opposed" to the Vietnam War, but enlisted in the California Army National Guard for six years, serving domestically.[7] A supply corporal, Delgado was deployed to the Watts riots in Los Angeles, in 1965, where he was "astonished to see weekend warriors being issued live ammunition to use against other Americans."[7]

Delgado began acting professionally in 1968, after nine years of "trying to knock doors down in Los Angeles to get in."[8] That year, he received his first Equity job in a summer stock play starring Martha Raye,[7] and later was cast in the first Mexican-American soap opera, Cancion de la Raza.[9]

Befriending actor Sergei Tschernisch at Los Angeles theatre company Inner City Repertory, Delgado learned of the new theatre program at CalArts, led by Provost Herb Blau. While already a professional actor as of his 1970 enrollment, Delgado praised Blau's methods, suggesting his avant-garde method was "amazing."[7]

As of 1970, he was the artistic director of the new Mexican-American Centre of Creative Arts, which taught Chicano high school and college students from the basement of the Euclid Heights Community Centre in East Los Angeles.[10] Delgado told the Los Angeles Times: "We are 100% positive in our approach, and we are uncompromising in our belief that our kids will come away thinking of themselves as artists. Nothing is going to stop us from attaining our identification in American society."[11]

Delgado had a guest role in an October 1970 episode Storefront Lawyers, before being cast as a series regular in Angie's Garage, in November 1970. The new children's series focused on serving Mexican-American children. He was billed as a singer-guitarist.[12] He speculated that Sesame Street producers discovered him through the series.[8]

Delgado recorded voice over work in both English and Spanish.[13]

Early years on Sesame Street (1971–1988)Edit

On Sesame Street, his character, Luis along with Raul Julia as Rafael, were the first human additions to the original cast. Luis was a handyman and an aspiring writer, who debuted on the show in 1971 simultaneously with Julia. Together they ran the L&R Fix-It Shop until Julia left the show after one season, and Luis ran the Fix-It Shop alone from then on.[citation needed]

The enormous popularity of Sesame Street created a barrage of groups providing input on the curriculum in its second season.[14] During the season, the program attempted to teach Spanish to children whose mother tongue was English. Producer Jon Stone told The Pittsburgh Press that their attempts were "a disaster. It was tokenism at best, and condescension at worst."[15] For the third season, the show rebooted their efforts, adding Puerto Ricans and Chicanos, and creating new Spanish segments.[15] Seven new cast members were added at the start of the season, including Delgado, Panchito Gómez, Raul Julia, and Sonia Manzano.[16] Delgado was still enrolled at CalArts, as of casting.[7] Delgado's character, Luis, ran "The Fix-It Shop," a repair service on Sesame Street, alongside Julia's Rafael. The character has been described as the "antithesis" of the Mexican and Latino stereotypes that proliferated television at the time, as he was "an honest, upstanding, hard-working, affable person."[7] Delgado expected the role to last one or two seasons.[7]

Delgado joined the series' live events by at least 1972, when he performed with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra.[17]

Delgado was named the coordinator of the Children's Television Workshop's Bilingual Task Force, and sent across the country to meet with groups. The efforts were to lead to further updates to content in season 4.[9] He would comment in 1972 that the series didn't "teach Spanish, we teach in Spanish."[18]

Delgado is believed to have played "the same role on U.S. television longer than any other Mexican-American actor," according to CalArts.[7]

Later seasons on Sesame Street (1988–2016)Edit

During Sesame Street's 19th season, first aired in 1988, Luis fell in love with Maria, performed by Sonia Manzano, and married her. The characters Luis and Maria taught viewers about Hispanic culture and language throughout their shared run of the show. According to Delgado, "to this day, there are fans out there who want to believe that the Luis and Maria wedding episode in 1988 was real, "but the fact of the matter is, it was just terrific acting."[7]

Delgado later appeared at various pop culture conventions, often under the brand "Humans of Sesame Street".[19] Delgado also reprised the role of Luis in the TV special Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration.[20]

Delgado also performed in live shows throughout his Sesame Street career, singing the songs of Sesame Street and entertaining thousands of children and their families.[21]

Additional rolesEdit

Delgado would take guest roles on other series, while Sesame Street was not taping. Notably, he had a recurring role as national news editor Rubin Castillo on the television series Lou Grant.[22][7]

Delgado starred in Quixote Nuevo that premiered in 2018 at CalShakes Theater in Berkeley, California, then went on tour in 2019 to Hartford Stage, Boston's Huntington Theatre and Houston's Alley Theatre production (2020) of Octavio Solis, a modern Chicano adaptation of Don Quixote.[13]

In Los Angeles, he was a company member of Inner City Rep, The Group Repertory, and LA Repertory. Some of his New York City theatre credits include Floating Home (HExTC), Boxing 2000 (Richard Maxwell NYC Players), Dismiss All the Poets (New York Fringe Festival 2002), Nilo Cruz's adaptation of A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Dinosaurios (IATI), Night Over Taos INTAR Theatre an adaptation How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Round House Theatre and Emilio appeared in the role of King Claudius in Asolo Repertory Theatre production of Hamlet, Prince of Cuba, with alternating performances in English and Spanish, where one reviewer wrote that Delgado "is equally brilliant as King Claudius".[23]

His other television appearances include House of Cards, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He was a regular cast member of Lou Grant and the short-lived Born to the Wind. He also appeared in episodes of Police Story; Hawaii Five-O; and Quincy, M.E.

Delgado's other creative endeavor was to sing and record with the band Pink Martini. He performed with the band at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York City, The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles,[24] in Woodinville, Washington at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, and in Portland, Oregon at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Crystal Ballroom and the Oregon Zoo. He appears on their album Splendor in the Grass, in which he recorded the song "Sing", a duet with China Forbes.[25]

Personal lifeEdit

Emilio and Carole were married in Bermuda, January 28, 1990. Delgado has a daughter, Lauren, from his present marriage, and a son, Aram, from a previous marriage.[7]

Delgado's voice has been described as "gravelly and sonorous, his words precise and deliberate."[13]


In December 2020, Delgado was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.[6] He died from the disease at his home in Manhattan, New York City, on March 10, 2022, at the age of 81.[6][26]



  • Sesame Street - Luis Rodriguez (1971–2015 & 2019)
  • Cannon - episode - Cry Wolf - Dr. Guiterrez (1976)
  • Police Story - episode - Spanish Class - Agitator #1 (1976)
  • Hawaii Five-O - episode - The Ninth Step - Vic Salazar (1977)
  • ABC Weekend Specials - episode - Tales of the Nunundaga - White Bull (1977)
  • The Chisholms - TV Mini-Series - Native Trader (1979)
  • Lou Grant - 19 episodes - Rubin Castillo (1979–1982)
  • Quincy, M.E. - episode - Welcome to Paradise Palms - Felix Wanaka (1980)
  • Quincy, M.E. - episode - D.U.I. - Officer Garcia (1981)
  • Falcon Crest - episode - Unaired Pilot - Fernando Diaz (1982)
  • Falcon Crest - episode - Lord of the Manor - Paul (1982)
  • The 10th Annual People's Choice Awards - TV Special - Himself - Accepting Award from Favourite Children's Program (1984)
  • Learning About Letters - Sesame Street Video short - Luis Rodriguez (1986)
  • Sing Along - Sesame Street Video short - Luis Rodriguez (1987)
  • Sesame Street, Special - TV Movie - Luis Rodriguez (1988)
  • Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting - TV Special - Himself/Luis Rodriguez (1989)
  • Sing Yourself Silly! - Sesame Street Video short - Luis Rodriguez (1990)
  • Sesame Street Home Video Visits the Hospital - Sesame Street Video short - Luis Rodriguez (1990)
  • Sesame Street Stays Up Late! - TV Special - Himself/Luis Rodriguez (1993)
  • All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! - Sesame Street TV Movie - Luis Rodriguez (1994)
  • Elmo Saves Christmas - Video - Luis Rodriguez (1996)
  • Learn Along with Sesame - episodes - Lead Away, and For Me, For You, For Latter (1996–2011)
  • Elmopalooza! - TV Special - Himself/Luis Rodriguez (1998)
  • Sesame Street 'A Is for Asthma' - Sesame Street Video short - Luis Rodriguez (1998)
  • Cosby - episode - It's a Wonderful Wife (2000)
  • Between the Lions - episode - The Ram in the Pepper Patch - The Ram (voice) (2000)
  • Law and Order - episode - Surrender Dorothy - Elias Soriano (2000)
  • Sesame Street: Three Bears and a New Baby - Video - Luis Rodriguez (2003)
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent - episode - Pas de Deux - Ari Hernandez (2004)
  • Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On - TV Movie - Luis Rodriguez (2004)
  • Sesame Street: Friends to the Rescue - Video - Luis Rodriguez (2005)
  • Guess That Shape and Color - Sesame Street Video short - Luis Rodriguez (2006)
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent - episode - Amends - Rodolfo Delgado (2007)
  • Ready for School - Sesame Street Video - Luis Rodriguez (2007)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - episode - Inconceivable - Enrique Diaz (2008)
  • The 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - TV Special - Himself (uncredited) (2009)
  • Person of Interest - episode - Pilot - Detective Padilla (uncredited) (2011)
  • Sesame Street: Fairy Tale Fun! - Video - Luis Rodriguez (2013)
  • Little Children, Big Challenges - episode - Incarceration - Luis Rodriguez (2013)
  • The Michael J. Fox Show - episode - Couples - Flower Vendor (2014)
  • I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story - Documentary - Himself (2014)
  • House of Cards - episode - Chapter 33 - Ambassador Davila (2015)
  • The Get Down - 1 episode - Minister Ruiz (2017)
  • The Bravest Knight - 3 episodes The King (voice) (2019)[27]
  • Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration - TV special - Luis Rodriguez (2019)
  • Quixote Nuevo - Houston Alley Theater - Don Quixote (2020, final theater role)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Emilio Ernest Delgado, Born 05/08/1940 in California | CaliforniaBirthIndex.org". www.californiabirthindex.org. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  2. ^ Jones, Kevin L. "'Sesame Street' Lets Go Longtime Cast Members Bob, Gordon and Luis". KQED Public Media for Northern California. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  3. ^ Lujan, Adam. "Sesame Street let go three longtime cast members". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  4. ^ "Who is the 'Sesame Street' 50th anniversary special actually for?". Los Angeles Times. November 9, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  5. ^ "Board of Directors — Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice — Provides advocacy, education, safe haven & community activism for LGBTQIA, transgender, immigrant children, youth, & families, led by Chief Activist Robt Seda-Schreiber".
  6. ^ a b c Patel, Vimal (March 10, 2022). "Emilio Delgado, Luis on 'Sesame Street' for Four Decades, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Emilio Delgado (Theater 71)". CalArts. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Davis, Michael (December 26, 2008). Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. Penguin. ISBN 978-1440658754. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Pappas, Leona (July 31, 1972). "'Sesame Street' Due Changes" (Newspapers.com). San Antonio Express. San Antonio TX. p. 18. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  10. ^ Murphy, Mary B. (October 11, 1970). "A Voice for Chicano Silent Minority" (Newspapers.com). Los Angeles Times Calendar. Los Angeles CA. p. 1. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  11. ^ "Chicano Silent Majority Getting a Voice of Its Own" (Newspapers.com). Los Angeles Times Calendar. Los Angeles CA. October 11, 1970. p. 22. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  12. ^ "New Series for Children to Premiere" (Newspapers.com). Los Angeles Times. November 10, 1970. p. 24. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Chen, Wei-Huan (February 4, 2020). "Emilio Delgado talks about his journey from 'Sesame Street' to the Alley's 'Quixote Nuevo'". Houston Chronicle. Houston TX. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  14. ^ Powers, Ron (December 19, 1971). "The Traffic On 'Sesame Street'" (Newspapers.com). The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh PA. p. 4. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Powers, Ron (December 19, 1971). "The Traffic On 'Sesame Street'" (Newspapers.com). The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh PA. p. 4. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  16. ^ "3rd Sesame Season To Open Nov. 15". The Times Recorder. Zanesville OH. November 7, 1971. p. 27. Retrieved December 21, 2019. Additions to the cast also included Larry Block, Northern Calloway, and Charlotte Rae.
  17. ^ Clark, Emily (April 29, 1972). "Sesame Street Cast Performs With Jackson Symphony Sat" (Newspapers.com). Clarion-Ledger. Jackson MI. p. 11. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  18. ^ Hill, Liz (August 17, 1972). "...Brought to You by the Letter S" (Newspapers.com). The State Journal. Lansing MI. p. D1. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  19. ^ Bendig, Timothy. "The Humans of Sesame Street". The Humans of Sesame Street. In Person Productions. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  20. ^ "HBO Reveals Details About Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration". Cbr.com. October 18, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  21. ^ "Emilio Delgado - Cast - the Show - Parents - Sesame Street". Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  22. ^ Daniel, Douglass K. (1996). Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-2675-4. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  23. ^ Clear, Marty (April 11, 2012). "Buzz Worthy: REVIEW: Asolo Rep's 'Hamlet, Prince of Cuba' is highly entertaining but could've accomplished even more". Buzz Worthy. Bradenton Herald. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  24. ^ "PINK MARTINI RETURNS TO THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL FOR A SPECIAL ONE-NIGHT-ONLY PERFORMANCE". LA Phil. Los Angeles CA: Los Angeles Philmarmonica. September 19, 2009. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  25. ^ Ayers, Michael D. (June 19, 2009). "Pink Martini Serves Up 'Splendor'". Billboard. Valence Media, LLC. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  26. ^ Dalton, Andrew (March 10, 2022). "Emilio Delgado, Luis on 'Sesame Street' for 45 years, dies". Associated Press. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  27. ^ "About Us". Alley Theatre. 2020. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.

External linksEdit