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Taco Bell Chihuahua dies of stroke

Gidget was known for roles in commericials, ‘Legally Blonde’ sequel

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

This undated picture provided by Taco Bell shows part of a Taco Bell advertisement featuring Gidget the Chihuahua, who died Tuesday. The owner of Studio Animal Services said Gidget suffered a massive stroke at her trainer's home in Castaic and had to be euthanized.

Gidget the chihuahua, who had uttered the phrase, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" on television screens throughout the world, died of a stroke on Tuesday in Castaic. She was 15.

The news comes just weeks after the deaths of celebrities Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

"She basically kind of lived the life of a little princess or queen," said Karin McElhatton, owner of Gidget and Studio Animal Services in Castaic. "She was treated as an aristocrat in the dog world, you know. And she was."

In her last major role, Gidget portrayed the mother of a gay dog alongside Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon in the 2003 film "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde." However, Gidget never had any puppies herself.

Her most famous role, by far, was the nameless, Spanish-speaking chihuahua who loved tacos. Her catch phrase, roughly translated, means "I want Taco Bell."

Some groups derided the commercials as playing off of racist stereotypes.

Corporate officials for the fast-food chain that ran her commercials from 1997 through 2000 issued a brief written statement: "We enjoyed working with Gidget and she will be missed by many. Our deepest sympathies go out to her owners and fans."

Her owner recalled buying the funny-looking pup from a breeder.

"We found her and fell in love with her and we agreed to get her," McElhatton said. "At that point, we didn't know she was going to end up being a famous dog or anything like that."

The success ultimately led Gidget to become a finicky and self-centered dog who slept in an exceedingly comfy bed, ate gourmet dog food and surrounded herself with an exclusive entourage.

"If you were Gidget, you were all about Gidget," McElhatton said. "It was like the whole world revolved around her."

When asked whether there was any talent, living or dead, with a personality comparable to Gidget, McElhatton paused.

"Meryl Streep, or someone like that," she said. "Very, very high-end and extremely classy."

Gidget's remains will be cremated and a private memorial service will be held.

She is survived by McElhatton and her live-in trainer, Sue Chipperton.

"I think she accomplished everything she wanted to, because she got everything she wanted," McElhatton said. "Dogs don't really care if they're famous. She had her favorite people, her favorite food, her favorite toys and her favorite bed."


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