UPDATED with Ben Silverman statement: Ben Silverman, chairman and co-CEO of Propagate and executive producer of Ugly Betty, remembers series creator Silvio Horta as “a light.” Horta was found dead by suicide Tuesday in Miami. He was 45.
“Silvio was a light — an inventive and excited collaborator,” Silverman said in a statement Wednesday. “He helped deliver on the promise of our beautiful Betty, and I am sad that he saw the world as being so ugly.”
America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams are among the former Ugly Betty cast members reacting to the sudden passing of Horta.
“I’m stunned and heartbroken to hear the devastating news of Ugly Betty creator, Silvio Horta’s death,” Ferrera wrote on Instagram. “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.”
Ferrera also posted a photo of Horta with the Ugly Betty family taken after one of the show’s Golden Globe wins.
Williams also reacted to Horta’s passing on Instagram. “Still in shock after hearing the tragic news of our #uglybetty creator #silviohorta 💔 His creativity and passion will be missed by so many of us that worked with him. May he Rest In Peace,” she wrote.
Ferrera and Williams were joined in their tributes to Hotra by fellow Ugly Betty cast members Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato and Christopher Gorham.
Horta’s longtime friend, screenwriter Peter Hume, said in a remembrance Wednesday: “Silvio Horta was a beautiful man whose light shone on millions of television screens the world over. He may be gone but his heart and his laughter will always be with us.” Read his remembrance in full below.
Adapted from the hit Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea, Ugly Betty starred Ferrera and ran for four seasons on ABC from 2006-10. Horta also served as showrunner and head writer on the dramedy. The show revolved around Betty Suarez, played by Ferrera, a young, smart Mexican American woman from Queens who lands a job at an upscale fashion magazine in Manhattan. The show won two Golden Globes and an Emmy for Ferrera during its run. Williams, Becki Newton, Urie and Rebecca Romijn also starred.
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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.
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Silvio Horta gave me two of the greatest opportunities in my career with Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty. I will be forever grateful for his creativity, his enormous heart, and his friendship. His family was his world and my heart goes out to them tonight. Let’s all take care of each other.
Here is the full text of Peter Hume’s remembrance:
“It was the summer of 1998 when I first saw him. I caught his eye in a gift shop where we were both shopping. He flashed his big toothy grin, and soon we were laughing when we discovered we were both screenwriters. His first feature Urban Legend was coming out soon and he was nervous about it. He was uncertain if Hollywood would have a place for a Cuban American kid like him. He was just twenty-four, and he looked more like a college freshman than professional writer. We parted without exchanging numbers, and that might have been the last time I saw him if the woman behind the counter had not handed me a pen and said, “He was really cute. Don’t you want to get his number?” I chased him down and so began my journey with Silvio Horta.
“We dated for a few years, and while our romance faded with time, our friendship only deepened. If I needed a laugh, Silvio was there with one. When my second act didn’t work, he had the perfect fix. The kid from Miami with the bright, mischievous eyes always had my back.
“Well, it turned out that Hollywood did have a place for him, a huge one. After the enormous success of Urban Legend, he turned his talents to television and created breezy, comedic genre shows like The Chronicle and Jake 2.0. But it was with Ugly Betty that Silvio truly discovered his voice. The show was a sensation because Silvio is one of those rare writers who can get you laughing, then sink an unexpected emotional dagger that brings you to tears before getting you smiling again. He understood better than most that comedy can’t exist without tragedy. Laughter is not the opposite of sadness; it is its evil twin.
“On the page and in his life, he had enormous heart. But like so many artists, he also had demons. He didn’t search them out, they were baked into his DNA, part of his source code. This is part of what made him feel so deeply and write so brilliantly.
“Silvio struggled with addiction on and off for over a decade and with the help of his amazing mother Anna, his sister Hilda and a dedicated group of friends who stuck with him though it all, he won the battle.
“He had been clean for almost a year, but sobriety failed to lift the anxiety and depression that haunted him daily. It crippled him. Even though he had loving family and friends trying their best to guide him, he could not see a path out of the darkness.
“Silvio was suffering. But on the evening of January sixth, that suffering finally stopped and he was free. It was not an impulsive decision, and I know this because we discussed his future openly. This was a choice Silvio made with a heavy heart. He is deeply sorry for the pain he has caused. If you are one of the many people who knew and loved him, please don’t spend time thinking that if you’d reached out, or emailed him that things might have been different. What matters is that his unhappiness has ended and he’s in a better place.
“Silvio Horta was a beautiful man whose light shone on millions of television screens the world over. He may be gone but his heart and his laughter will always be with us.”