Villa Alegre (TV series)

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Villa Alegre (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbiʎa aˈleɣɾe], Happy Village) is a children's television show and the first national bilingual (Spanish/English) program in the United States.[1] It was produced by Bilingual Children's Television as its inaugural project on the company's founding in 1970.[2] Villa Alegre debuted on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) public television in 1973 and ran there until funding disputes ended the project in 1980.[1][2] Children's Television Workshop was successful in ending the funding for this show. The show was also seen in syndication on commercial stations in some markets, on at least a weekly basis.

Villa Alegre was the creation of Dr. Rene Cardenas, who served as president of Bilingual Children's Television and Executive Producer.[3] Other producers included Moctesuma Esparza, who worked on only the first season,[3] and David Ochoa.[4]

The show won a Peabody Award among other honors.[5] There is currently a move to have this show released on DVD.


Villa Alegre centered on life in a whimsical bilingual (Spanish and English) village. The program had an upbeat, catchy salsa-flavored theme song, which ended with adults and kids shouting "¡Villa Alegre!" The educational series was set up to teach English to Latino kids and Spanish to the Anglos. It featured various educational subjects (such as mathematics and science) and life lessons, in addition to Hispanic culture. The executive producer was Claudio Guzman,[6] and the head writer was Barbara Chain. Her son Michael Chain[7] was a staff writer.[8] He also composed much of the specialty music for episodes.[citation needed]


Kenia Hernandez Cueto played the child actress/singer Maria. Actress Carmen Zapata starred in the program for nine seasons in the role of Doña Luz, the mayor of Villa Alegre,[9][10] Mexican-American singer-actress Marisela appeared on the show in her youth.[11] Actress Linda Dangcil played Elena on the show.[12] The show was directed by Argentinian actor and director Alejandro Rey (who co-starred with Dangcil on The Flying Nun).[13] Nono Arsu played Felipe[6] in the first and second seasons. Steve Frankin and Hal Smith were regulars also. Darryl Henriques played Mimo[6] in the first and second seasons.


  1. ^ a b Danini, Carmina. "Rivas-Estrella was part of the first national bilingual TV show," San Antonio Express-News, 25 January 2006, State & Metro, p.4B.
  2. ^ a b Villa Alegre at Retrieved July 15, 2007.[unreliable source?] Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Villa Alegre at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 15, 2007.
  4. ^ "Militant found career in films", Rocky Mountain News (Colorado), 21 May 1994, Local section, special feature "La Gente", p.74A.
  5. ^ Payan, Victor. "Interview with Moctesuma Esparza: From the L.A. High School walkouts to 'Selena' and 'The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca', In Motion Magazine. May 21, 1998. Retrieved July 15, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c Ethnic Groups: Hispanic/ Latino: R–Z: "Villa Alegre" at, 5 February 2013; archived
  7. ^ Michael Chain biography page at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ Michael Chain at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ Kilmer, Lowe. "Celebrities" (column), Watertown Daily Times (New York), 7 October 2003, Lifestyles & Leisure section, p.B2.
  10. ^ Meier, Matt S.; Serri, Conchita Franco; Garcia, Richard A. (1997), Notable Latino Americans: A Biographical Dictionary, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, p. 410, Most important, in her role of Doña Luz she was, for nine years, the heart and soul of the Public Broadcasting System's bilingual program, 'Villa Alegre.' 
  11. ^ Arroyo, Blanca. "Ahora 'sin él', pero lista para volver - La cantante confiesa que a los 15 años tuvo un tórrido romance con Marco Antonio Solís y que le 'encantaría' trabajar otra vez con 'El Buki Mayor,'" ["Now 'Without Him', but ready to return: The singer confesses that at age 15 she had a torrid romance with Marco Antonio Solís and that she would be 'delighted' to work again with 'El Buki Mayor'"], La Opinión (Los Angeles, California), May 6, 2001, Espectáculos section. (in Spanish)
  12. ^ Barnes, Mike (2009-05-08). "Actress, dancer Linda Dangcil dies at 67, show". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  13. ^ "Alejandro Rey, 57, starred in TV's 'The Flying Nun'". San José Mercury-News. Associated Press. 23 May 1987. p. 10B, Local News. 

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