Entertainment behind the scenes
Yo quiero Doggy Heaven: Taco Bell icon dies at 15
Gidget the Chihuahua, who achieved pop-culture immortality in the “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” ad campaigns run by the fast-food outlet in the 1990s, died of an apparent stroke in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Tuesday while watching television. She was 15.
US Weekly broke the news on Wednesday, quoting the dog’s owner, Karen McElhatton, as saying Gidget “lived like a queen” and “had a great life.”
Gidget starred in Taco Bell ads for two years, beginning in late 1997. “She” became a “he” in the spots, which depicted the canine on a quest for Taco Bell fare. The tagline “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” (I want Taco Bell) passed into the lexicon, and Gidget became an instant celebrity. She showed up at movie premieres, on magazine covers, and even at the opening session of the New York Stock Exchange. A toy version sold briskly at Taco Bell’s 6,000 outlets. But the $200 million ad campaign did not do much for Taco Bell sales, and the company dropped Gidget after complaints from franchisees.
In 2003, a federal jury in Michigan ordered Yum to pay $30.2 million to a pair of designers who alleged that Taco Bell advertising executives stole their idea for a character called “Psycho Chihuahua” after making a verbal agreement to use the men’s design. Yum had countered that the talking Chihuahua was created by a former ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day.
Gidget had no offspring. She will be cremated.