Woman Who Was Reportedly the Inspiration for Mama Coco in ‘Coco’ Dies at 109

The woman who is believed to have inspired beloved Mamá Coco, the grandmother in Pixar animated musical film Coco, has died. María Salud Ramírez Caballero was 109 years old when she passed away Oct. 16 at her home in Michoacán, Mexico. Her death was confirmed by Michoacán’s Secretary of Tourism, Roberto Monroy, who on Twitter referred to Ramírez Caballero as “a tireless woman and life example who inspired this beloved character that went around the world.”

Pixar has not formally acknowledged that Ramírez Caballero was the inspiration for Mamá Coco, but the similarity between the real life woman and the animated character was undeniable. The similarities led many over the years to declare she had indeed been the template for Mamá Coco, and tourists were known to go to her home and take photographs with her next to a Coco poster.

Ramírez Caballero, a potter by trade, was born and died in the small town of Santa Fe de la Laguna, in Michoacán, one of Mexico’s many beautiful and colorful small towns. And like the film’s Mamá Coco, had children (three), grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Her picturesque hometown is very close to Lake Pátzcuaro, one of Mexico’s best-known destinations for Day of the Dead, the crux of Coco. In the 2017 film, a young boy named Miguel goes into the land of the dead on Nov. 1 – Día de los Muertos — to find his great grandfather, father to Mamá Coco.

Ramírez Caballero is expected to be buried Tuesday in her hometown.

Mamá Coco was voiced by Mexican actress Ana Ofelia Murguía, who is now 88 years old.

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