Delia Fiallo, ‘Mother of the Telenovela,’ Dies at 96

Delia Fiallo, an author and screenwriter known as the “mother of the Latin American telenovela,” has died, according to the Associated Press. She was 96.

Fiallo’s caregiver told the AP that she died Tuesday at her home in Coral Gables, Fla., just five days before her 97th birthday. A cause of death was not given, but the caregiver said that the writer was surrounded by her children.

Fiallo was one of the most celebrated writers in the romance genre, having penned 43 telenovelas, with over 80 adaptations of her work around the world. Fiallo’s most well-known works include “Kassandra,” “Cristal,” “Leonela,” “Esmeralda,” “La Zulianita,” “Lucecita,” “María del Mar,” “La Señorita Elena,” “Tu Mundo y el Mío,” “Guadalupe” and “Marielena.”

Born in Havana, Cuba on July 4, 1924, Fiallo studied philosophy and literature in university, eventually earning her doctorate in 1948. In 1949, Fiallo began writing radionovelas, and eventually transitioned to telenovelas. Her first telenovela adaptation was of “Soraya,” which released in Cuba in 1957. In 1966, Fiallo left Cuba for Miami, and continued her illustrious writing career, penning her final completed telenovela, “Cristal,” in 1985. She also briefly lived in Venezuela, in order to supervise the production of her works in the country. Fiallo had started work on another telenovela, titled “La Felicidad,” but it was not finished by the time she decided to retire. In 2011, a “Goddess of Telenovelas” award at the Summit of the Telenovela Industry was created in Fiallo’s honor.

Fiallo married radio director Bernardo Pascual in 1952, and they were married for 67 years until his death in 2019. Together, Fiallo and Pascual had five children and 13 grandchildren.

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