Maria Salud Ramirez Caballero has died. It is believed that she was the model for one of the main characters in the movie “Coco”.
Roberto Monroy, the tourism minister of the Mexican state of Michoacan, announced that she died in Santa Fe de la Laguna, where she was born more than a hundred years ago.
Monroy said she was a “tireless woman and a model of life,” but he did not know why she died.
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She has become known as “Mama Coco,” after the Disney/Pixar character of the same name from the 2017 animated film about Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico. Ana Ofelia Murguia was the voice of Mama Coco.
Although the Mouse House has not said Caballero was the inspiration for its main character, her family says a team from Pixar came to their neighborhood, took many photos of Caballero and lived with them for a while.
The family says that many of the buildings and architecture that Pixar and Disney researched for the film were also used in the film itself. And the resemblance between “Mama Coco” and Caballero is uncanny.
Although she’s a local legend, her family hasn’t tried to get recognition or approval from the company in several years.
Caballero was an artist who made pots and other things out of clay that she sold to people in the area. She has three children, a host of grandchildren and even more great-grandchildren.
Unkrich said Monday on Twitter that the visit to Santa Fe de la Laguna was “a visual inspiration” for the town of Santa Cecelia in Coco, but he dismissed the connection between Mama Coco and Caballero, saying no one on his team had met her.
Later, Unkrich joined a message saying Mama Coco should be represented in a universal way. He also posted another tweet basically taking the high road in discussing the character.
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No one has ever given her credit for what she did for the film. Still, Pixar said that in researching the film, they talked to many people in the area, including Maria Salud Ramirez Caballero’s family. Mama Coco was a real person who was a potter and had three children.
Her appearance is very similar, and her house was a big draw for tourists coming to Santa Fe de la Laguna, where she lives.
Since the film was released in 2017, her family has been trying to get Disney Pixar to acknowledge that the film was based on the old woman. So far, they have not been successful.