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Delia Fiallo, Known As The Mother Of Telenovelas, Dies At 96

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ESMERALDA")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Esmeralda, Esmeralda...

NOEL KING, HOST:

If you lived in a Latin American household at any point during the last 55 years, you might recognize this type of melodramatic theme music.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ESMERALDA")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Esmeralda...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This one opened the 1997 remake of a telenovela called "Esmeralda." It's just one of more than 80 recreations of original works written by Cuban writer Delia Fiallo. She died yesterday morning at the age of 96.

ILAN STAVANS: She was a fountain, a compass, a map in shaping big, episodic stories about young women in search of their own place in the world.

KING: Author Ilan Stavans has written about the cultural influence of telenovelas. He says the mother of telenovelas, as she was known, mastered the art form at a time when men dominated that world.

STAVANS: That, no doubt, places her as an essential figure in the shaping of the tradition.

MARTIN: Fiallo left Cuba for Miami with her family in 1966 and wrote for Venezuelan TV. But her work was broadcast across Latin America.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEMUNDO BROADCAST)

DELIA FIALLO: (Speaking Spanish).

KING: She told Telemundo in 2016 that she never had time to really write a complete novela. She would put together script outlines one day that would be filmed the next day. At a ceremony 10 years ago, an award for telenovela goddesses was created in her honor.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIVISION BROADCAST)

FIALLO: (Speaking Spanish).

KING: Fiallo told Univision afterwards it was the highlight of her professional career.

MARTIN: Throughout her decades of writing, Fiallo always expressed gratitude to her fans.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEMUNDO BROADCAST)

FIALLO: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: Again on Telemundo, Fiallo said, quote, "Everything I've done, everything that I am is for those people who were moved by my novelas." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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