Woman who reportedly inspired Coco’s Mamá Coco has died aged 109

18 October 2022, 16:48

By Sam Prance

It is believed that María Salud Ramírez Caballero was the real-life inspiration behind Mamá Coco in Coco.

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María Salud Ramírez Caballero, who reportedly inspired Mamá Coco in Pixar's 2017 movie Coco, has died at the age of 109.

According to TMZ, María Salud Ramírez Caballero passed away yesterday (Oct 18) in her hometown, Santa Fe de la Laguna, Mexico. Caballero was born on the 16th of September, 1913. She was known locally as Mamá Coco due to the widely held belief that Mamá Coco, Miguel's great-grandmother in the beloved Pixar film Coco, was based on Caballero's likeness.

Following Caballero's death, Roberto Monroy, Michoaca's Secretary of Tourism, told Marca: "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Maria Salud Ramirez Caballero, Mamá Coco, a tireless woman and example of life, who was the inspiration for this beloved character that went around the world. I pray for her eternal rest and for her family to find peace of mind."

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Coco: Woman who reportedly inspired Mamá Coco has died aged 109
Coco: Woman who reportedly inspired Mamá Coco has died aged 109. Picture: PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS/WALT DISNEY PICTURES / Album, New China TV China News

Despite her reputation as Mamà Coco, Disney and Pixar have never acknowledged that Cabellero was the inspiration behind the character. In fact, when The New York Times reported that the Coco characters were based "on real-world families" they met "while visiting the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guanajuato", Pixar never specified anyone they used as inspiration.

Speaking to New China TV in 2018, Caballero said: "[Pixar] offered me so many things, but nothing came of it. They only came and took my picture and took it with them. They asked me what I need. Well, look at how I live and alone. My daughters live here, behind the house. And I'm here alone, that's what I have."

In 2018, Coco director Lee Unkrich took to Twitter to deny Caballero's claims. A fan of Coco tweeted: "So, this guy claims he has met mama coco and that she hasn't received any money from Disney since the release of the film even tho the character was based on her. It's already on the news and everything. Thought I'd let you know @leeunkrich."

Unkrich then responded by tweeting: "This is not a true story. The character of Mamá Coco was not based upon any real person we met in our travels. She sprang solely from our imagination."

As a result, Cabellero never received any payment from Disney or Pixar.

R.I.P. María Salud Ramírez Caballero.

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