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Silvio Horta (1974–2020), “Ugly Betty” creator

Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown

Horta adapted "Ugly Betty" from the hit Columbian telenovela “Yo soy Betty, la fea”

Silvio Horta was the creator and executive producer of “Ugly Betty,” the comedy-drama TV series starring America Ferrera that ran from 2006-2010. Horta adapted the hit Columbian telenovela “Yo soy Betty, la fea” to create the popular ABC show about a style-challenged young woman working for a hot fashion magazine. Horta also created the TV shows “Jake 2.0” and “The Chronicle,” and he wrote the screenplay for the 1998 movie “Urban Legend.” He founded the production company Silent H Productions, a nod to the often-bungled pronunciation of his last name.

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Died: January 7, 2020 (Who else died on January 7?)

Details of death: Died in Miami by suicide at the age of 45.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, he or she should not be left alone. Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides free, confidential support for people in crisis or emotional distress, 24/7 year-round. The Lifeline also offers an online chat for people who prefer to reach out online rather than by phone.


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Telenovela inspiration: A first-generation Cuban-American from Miami, Horta grew up with telenovelas as priority viewing in his household. He told the New York Times in 2006 that his mother watched telenovela nightly on the family’s one TV, and he watched along: “All my friends, first-generation immigrants, would make fun of them, and then become completely addicted.” He knew the format could work for American television, too, and a hit TV show was born.

Notable quote: “That big-theme storytelling grabs you. You couldn’t help but relate to these characters. I don’t know why it shouldn’t work for American viewers. The over-arching themes that made them work for Spanish-speakers — forbidden love, the peasant person swept up into a rich family, personal betrayal — those are universal.” —From a 2006 interview with the Miami Herald

What people said about him: “I’m stunned and heartbroken to hear the 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.” —America Ferrera, star of “Ugly Betty”

“Silvio and I used to stay up late and laugh until our sides hurt — and complain to one another about life. He wrote the finest scenes, for all of us — crafted the most wonderfully flawed being I’ve ever had the privilege to embody. I’m empty right now…” —Eric Mabius, starred as Daniel Meade on “Ugly Betty”

“Silvio Horta have me two of the greatest opportunities in my career with Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty. I will forever be grateful for his creativity, his enormous heart, and his friendship.” —Christopher Gorham, played Henry on “Ugly Betty”

Full obituary: Miami Herald

Related lives:

  • Harris Wittels (1984–2015), “Parks & Recreation” writer and executive producer
  • Eunetta Boone (1955–2019), showrunner who created “One on One”
  • Audrey Wells (1960–2018), “The Hate U Give” screenwriter