Gidget the Taco Bell SpokesDog Dies at 15
Gidget the Taco Bell Chihuahua has Died
It has been a rough couple of months for celebrities. In just the past few weeks we’ve lost Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Karl Malden, Michael Jackson, and Walter Cronkite. Now, we learn that the Chihuahua famous for proclaiming “Yo quiero Taco Bell” has passed away. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Gidget the Chihuahua suffered a massive stroke on Tuesday night and had to be euthanized.
Gidget’s Career in Show Business
Gidget was discovered at a kennel. She did not appear to be star material, with her under bite and her enormous ears. But Gidget knew she had “it.” According to Karin McElhatton, owner of Studio Animal Services, Gidget the Chihuahua knew she was a star. “She was a prima donna, basically. She absolutely knew when she was on camera.”
In 1997, Gidget starred in a Taco Bell advertisement in which a male actor’s voice proclaimed the now-famous line, “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” Spanish for “I want Taco Bell.” What was supposed to be a single ad turned into a campaign that ran from 1997 to 2000.
While other Chihuahuas had bit parts in the campaign, it was Gidget who got the closeups and the quips (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui), which included “Drop the Chalupa,” and “Viva Gorditas.”
According to McElhatton, Gidget traveled first-class, opened the New York Stock Exchange and made an appearance at Madison Square Garden. Her acting career included a 2002 commercial for insurance firm GEICO and a role in the 2003 movie “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.”
After her retirement from show business, Gidget enjoyed going on hikes and beach visits with her dog trainer, Sue Chipperton. Although she had grown hard of hearing, Gidget enjoyed good health up to the day of her death, eating well and playing with her favorite squeaky toys at the home of her dog trainer, said McElhatton.
Controversy and Lawsuits Clouded the Taco Bell Chihuahua Ad Campaign
Although her role as the Taco Bell Chihuahua brought Gidget the Chihuahua fame and a loyal and loving following, the ad campaign that made her famous was the object of controversy and the subject of a lawsuit against the fast food chain, according to the Seattle Times. Because the commercials often portrayed the Chihuahua as a bandit in a sombrero or a revolutionary in a beret, they were criticized by activists as a derogatory depiction of Mexicans.
And in January, 2009, a federal appeals court ruled that Taco Bell was liable for a $42 million breach-of-contract award to two Michigan men who created the idea behind the fast food company’s $500 million advertising campaign.
Taco Bell: Gidget the Chihuahua will be Missed
Taco Bell Corporation issued a statement acknowledging that Gidget the Chihuahua will be missed. The company said, “Our deepest sympathies go out to her owners and fans.”
Dying at age 15, Gidget had a normal life span for a Chihuahua. According to chihuahuafanatics.com, Chihuahuas are one of the most long lived of dog breeds, with life spans of 15-plus years being fairly common.
Gidget will be cremated, and her owners will decide on a final disposition of her remains.