The woman who inspired the hit animated movie ‘Coco’ has died in her Mexican hometown aged 109.
Maria Salud Ramirez Caballero died in Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacan State, western Mexico on Sunday, 16th October, reported local media.
Maria – who had turned 109 in September – is said to have inspired the grandmother character Mama Coco in the 2017 Disney-Pixar film ‘Coco’ about the Mexican tradition Day of the Dead.
Although the filmmakers never acknowledged Maria’s contribution, it is known they travelled widely around Mexico for research and even stayed with her family during one trip.
When the movie came out, friends and neighbours were amazed by the physical similarities shared by Maria and Mama Coco.
Maria also became a movie celebrity, with visitors travelling for miles to have their photos taken with her.
Michoacan Tourism Secretary Roberto Monroy wrote in a statement: “I deeply regret the death of Ms Maria Salud Ramirez Caballero, ‘Mama Coco’, a tireless woman and example of life, who was the inspiration for this beloved character that went around the world. My prayers for her rest and for her family to find fortitude.”
‘Coco’ caused controversy in 2018 when it was discovered that Disney-Pixar had failed to disclose that the film’s producers had based Mama Coco on Maria.
Her snub from moviemakers clearly wounded Maria.
She said in a news interview that the producers “offered me so many things, but nothing came of it”.
She added: “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.”
‘Coco’ is about a boy who goes on a journey through the Land of the Dead to uncover his family’s long-kept secret. It won two Oscars, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and 64 other awards.