Who better to memorialize him than the actress who worked alongside him for more than 40 years?
“My nephew, who is now in his 50s, told me that as a little boy, he wanted to grow up and become a man like Luis,” Manzano said in the Time piece. “How wonderful that Emilio’s strength, warmth, and kindness were attractive enough for children to want to emulate.”
Manzano and Delgado co-starred on “Sesame Street” for decades — Manzano’s Maria and Delgado’s Luis ran the Fix-It Shop together before their characters married in 1988, in an emotional (and fictional) wedding attended by the human and Muppet residents of Sesame Street (Elmo was their ring bearer).
When the “widely watched onscreen wedding” aired, Manzano said, “Latinos on television were the butt of the joke.” But the realistic and respectful portrayal of two Latino characters on a public TV series — before and after their wedding — was meaningful to viewers, she said.
“Our wedding presented flesh-and-blood Latinos wanting the same things out of life as other Americans. To love, get married, have a baby, send them to daycare, go camping,” Manzano said. “Our affection for each other came through so strongly people thought we had really gotten married.”
“Emilio held children in high regard, saw adults as individuals, always defended the underdog, and was eternally positive,” Manzano said. “I will miss him.”