Mexican TV Icon Roberto Gómez Bolaños Dies At 85

Nov 29, 2014
Originally published on November 29, 2014 6:29 pm
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Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

Roberto Gomez Bolanos or Chespirito, as he was known by millions of fans, died at his home in Cancun, Mexico on Friday. Bolanos was one of Latin America's most beloved comedic actors and writers, entertaining generations of adults and children during his nearly 60-year career. NPR's Nathan Rott has this remembrance.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: In English, Chespirito roughly means little Shakespeare - a fitting nickname for Roberto Gomez Bolanos because the Mexico City-born artist wrote hundreds of television shows, 20 films and countless theater productions during his career, and also because of his stature and size. He cast himself as a small boy in one of his most famous shows.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "EL CHAVO DEL OCHO")

ROTT: "El Chavo Del Ocho," or the kid at number eight, was about a poor orphan boy who lived in a barrel. It was slapstick funny, not vulgar, because Bolanos said he avoided vulgarity out of respect for his audience. And it resonated with a wide variety of people because of its depictions of family, friends and even the disparities in Mexico's economic classes. Bolano's also famously played El Chapulin Colorado, or the Crimson Grasshopper, a cocky but clumsy super hero who, in this scene, like others, strikes a pose and puffs up tough for a woman who seems to be looking for help, and then falls down.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "EL CHAPULIN COLORADO")

ROBERTO GOMEZ BOLANOS: (As El Chapulin Colorado, speaking Spanish).

ROTT: Bolanos and his Crimson Grasshopper were even the inspiration for "The Simpsons" bumblebee man.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SIMPSONS")

HANK AZARIA: (As Bumblebee Man) Ay, ay, ay, la policia.

ROTT: Word of Bolano's death has elicited a large response on social media and Twitter. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote, quote, "Mexico has lost an icon whose work transcended generations and borders." A funeral mass will be held for the 85-year-old icon at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City. It seats more than 100,000 people. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.