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Taco Bell Ad Star Gidget the Chihuahua Dies at 15

Taco Bell Ad Star Gidget the Chihuahua Dies at 15

Taco Bell Chihuahua Dies at age 15; RIP Gidget (photo by Creative Commons user Nevada Tumbleweed)

Robert Jablon | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Gidget the Chihuahua, the bug-eyed, big-eared star of 1990s Taco Bell commercials who was a diva on and off the screen, has died. She was 15.

Gidget suffered a massive stroke late Tuesday night at her trainer’s home in Santa Clarita and had to be euthanized, said Karin McElhatton, owner of Studio Animal Services in Castaic, which owned the dog.

Although she was hard of hearing, Gidget was otherwise in good health up to the day of her death, eating well and playing with her favorite squeaky toys at the home of trainer Sue Chipperton, McElhatton said.

“She was retired. She lived like a queen, very pampered,” McElhatton said.

Gidget was found at a kennel and wasn’t show quality, McElhatton said; she had an undershot jaw and huge ears.

But Gidget knew she was a star, McElhatton said.

“She was a prima donna, basically. She absolutely knew when she was on camera,” McElhatton said.

In a 1997 Taco Bell television commercial, Gidget was seen as a male dog who, through the magic of special effects and a voice actor, proclaims in a richly accented voice: “Yo quiero Taco Bell” – Spanish for “I want Taco Bell.”

Viewers were charmed. What was supposed to be a single ad became a campaign that ran from 1997 to 2000.

The ads made the Taco Bell mascot wildly popular, although they provoked criticism from activists who accused them of promoting Hispanic stereotypes.