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Adios to Taco Bell mascot

July 23, 2009|Lindsay Barnett

Gidget the Chihuahua, whose Taco Bell commercials made her a star, has died. She was 15.

The owner of Studio Animal Services in Castaic says Gidget suffered a massive stroke late Tuesday at her trainer's home in Santa Clarita and had to be euthanized.

Gidget was the sassy mascot in Taco Bell commercials from 1997 to 2000. While other dogs had bit parts, it was her bug-eyed, big-eared face that was seen pronouncing "Yo quiero Taco Bell," Spanish for "I want Taco Bell," in a male voice dubbed by Argentine actor Carlos Alazraqui. A few years later, Alazraqui landed the role for which he is best known: Deputy James Garcia on Comedy Central's "Reno 911!"

The Taco Bell ads provoked some criticism from activists who said they used Mexican stereotypes.

Gidget also had a role in the movie "Legally Blonde 2," but others associated with the ad campaign weren't so lucky. Earlier this year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the creators of the Chihuahua character hadn't been properly compensated for their work, and Taco Bell was ordered to pay $42 million.

Gidget's trainer, Sue Chipperton, in an interview earlier this year with the People Pets website, described the diminutive dog as a consummate professional on the set. But, she said, Gidget had been the victim of typecasting, which limited her career choices (or, rather, Chipperton's choices on her behalf).

-- Lindsay Barnett

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