Mexican Comedian ‘Chespirito’ Dies at 85 Famed in Latin America for TV Roles Like ‘El Chavo del Ocho’ and the Crimson Grasshopper ASSOCIATED PRESS Nov. 28, 2014
MEXICO CITY— Roberto Gómez Bolaños, the popular Mexican comedian who wrote and played the boy television character “El Chavo del Ocho” that defined a generation for millions of Latin American children, died Friday, the Televisa television network said. He was 85 years old.
Known as “Chespirito,” he changed comedy in Latin America, taking his inspiration from Laurel and Hardy as well as another Mexican comedian who eventually made it to Hollywood, Cantinflas. The cause of death wasn’t immediately announced.
His two most famous characters were “El Chavo del Ocho,” who lived in the homes of Latin America and beyond with his barrel, freckles, striped shirt and frayed cap, and the naive superhero “El Chapulín Colorado,” or “The Crimson Grasshopper.” His morning show was a staple for preschoolers, much like “Captain Kangaroo” in the U.S.
In a career that started in the 1950s, he wrote hundreds of television episodes, 20 films and theater productions that drew record-breaking audiences.
His prolific output earned him the nickname “Chespirito.” It came from the Spanish phonetic pronunciation of Shakespeare—“Chespir”—combined with “ito,” a diminutive commonly used in Mexico that seemed natural for Gómez Bolaños because of his short stature.
“Nicknames are the most essential in life, more valuable than names,” the actor said in 2011.
On Friday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted, “Mexico has lost an icon whose work has transcended generations and borders.”
Proof of his wide popularity came when he opened a Twitter account in 2011 with a simple message: “Hello. I’m Chespirito. I’m 82-years-old and this is the first time I tweet. This is my debut. All the good people, follow me!”
In less than two months, he had 1 million followers. By the time of his death, there were 6.6 million.