Raised by his grandparents in Calexico, California, Delgado made his TV debut in 1968 on the Emmy Award-winning soap opera Canción de la Raza. He joined the Sesame Street cast in 1971 during its third season when the network was attempting to add more Spanish to the show.
After Delgado’s final season in 2016, he held the record for the longest-running role for a Mexican-American actor in a TV series. He continued to make appearances as Luis at public events and joined his former castmates for the show’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 2019.
“[Emilio’s] warmth and humor invited children to share a friendship that has echoed through generations,” Sesame Workshop’s official Twitter account reads. “We are so grateful he shared his talents with us and with the world.”
During his time on Sesame Street, Delgado spent much of it beside actress Sonia Manzano, who played his wife Maria.
The outpouring of love for Delgado and his character echoed through social media once news of his death spread. Countless people remembered growing up watching Sesame Street and wrote about why Delgado was such an integral part of their childhood.
“Thanks to Emilio Delgado, children of immigrants felt represented in television from the seventies,” one Twitter user wrote. “Luis and Maria were characters who taught children it’s good to speak another language and to be exactly who they are. May he rest in Power.”
While others expressed that he was one of the first Latine people they saw on TV.
Ultimately, thank you for everything you did, Emilio, including paving the way for other Latines in the entertainment industry. You will be missed.