‘Ugly Betty’ Creator Silvio Horta Dies at Age 45

Published on January 9, 2020

Silvio Horta, writer and creator of ABC’s Ugly Betty, passed away in a Miami hotel room on Tuesday. He was 45.

His mother, Anna, and sister, Hilda, released a statement to the media confirming his passing:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother and son, Silvio Horta. Through his friendships, his love and his work in TV and films, Silvio touched the lives of millions. Silvio had an ongoing struggle with addiction and depression, but through it all, he always found a way to turn his struggle into laughter. He was a kind and beautiful man. He may be gone but his light will shine on.

Variety later reported that he died due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as confirmed by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner.

Ugly Betty aired on ABC for four seasons from 2006-2010; it was the American adaptation of the Colombian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty, La Fea. The show received much praise for becoming a pioneer in television due to its representation of Latinx-Americans. It helped demonstrate that a show with a Latinx presence can be successful.

The show also received high recognition from GLAAD for its representation of the LGBTQ+ community with its characters. In the final season, one of the main characters, Justin (played by Mark Indelicato), comes out as gay and kisses a boy.

Horta, openly gay, explained in an 2013 interview how the show helped him express that part of his identity.

I think elements of Justin’s character being gay and sort of struggling with his sexuality was definitely — I drew from my own life. Though I was never quite as flamboyant or as into fashion or, you know, musical theater.”

America Ferrera, who played Ugly Betty’s titular character, took to Instagram to post on Horta’s passing:

I’m stunned and heartbroken to hear the devastating news of Ugly Betty creator, Silvio Horta’s death. His talent and creativity brought me and so many others such joy & light. I’m thinking of his family and loved ones who must be in so much pain right now- and of the whole Ugly Betty family who feel this loss so deeply.

Ugly Betty cast members Vanessa Williams, Michael Urie, Chris Gorham, as well as LGBTQ+ activist and writer Dustin Lance Black, are some of many mourning the loss of Horta.

In addition to Ugly Betty, Horta’s filmography includes the horror-thriller Urban Legend and television shows Jake 2.0 and The Chronicle.

A service for him will be held in Miami, with a memorial service to later be announced in Los Angeles.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Lexi Jones is an award-winning journalist and Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Las Vegas, she covers startup brands in entertainment, internet and LGBTQ+ startup news. She is also an editor of Grit Daily's "Top 100" entrepreneur lists.

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