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What Happened to Gidget, Taco Bell's Iconic Chihuahua?

No one will ever forget the line, "Yo Quiero Taco Bell." 

One of the most memorable ad campaigns involving a dog has to be the Taco Bell Chihuahua. The tiny pup commanded a presence commercial after commercial for the fast-food chain that is unforgettable. The Chihuahua was actually played by Gidget, a 12-pound pup who was ready to become a star. But whatever happened to the famous pup?

Meet Gidget: The Taco Bell Chihuahua

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Known for her signature catchphrase, Yo Quiero Taco Bell, Gidget became the topic of conversation across America.

Gidget was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1994, and Karen McElhatton adopted her. McElhatton said, "Gidget traveled first-class, opened up the New York Stock Exchange, and made an appearance at Madison Square Garden."

She was first cast as the girlfriend of the Taco Bell Dog, created by TBWA, but the director liked her so much, he decided to make her the leading dog. Her character was a teenage boy dog who was known for loving the Mexican food chain and chalupas.

Her role in Taco Bell ads started in 1997 when the chihuahua dog came on and first uttered the signature phrase in a strong Spanish accent with a voice-over by Carlos Alazraqui. The pooch looked like he was heading toward a female dog that he found attractive. Yet much to her dismay, he ran past her and went to a man who was eating a taco. The man looked at the talking dog in bewilderment.

The initial response to the commercial came as a mixed review. Many thought it was highly insensitive to Hispanic culture. Eventually, Taco Bell conceded and took the commercials off the air. However, the commercials did air from 1997 until 2000.

Another one of her more famous lines was "Viva Gorditas," which appeared as part of a crossover campaign for Godzilla.

After being the star mascot for Taco Bell, Gidget had difficulty getting cast in new roles. In an interview with CNN, her trainer said, "She was kind of typecast, so she never really got much work after that."

She also said that Gidget was a natural in front of the camera, and even though she did not do much in the Taco Bell commercials, she "acted like a big dog and had a big dog attitude."

Though she was a crucial figure in pop culture at the time, the talking Chihuahua was "laid-back, happy, and low maintenance" when she was at home with Chipperton.

Gidget's Other TV Appearances

Gidget did score a role in 2003 as Bruiser Woods mom in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon. She was actually friends with Moonie, who played Bruiser. So the dogs were genuinely happy to see one another in their reunion on camera.

She also starred in a few Geico commercials and was an extra in the 2008 film "Beverly Hills Chihuahua."

She retired at the age of 10 since she was getting typecast due to her association with Taco Bell, and she could not get away from it.

Where Is Gidget Now?

Unfortunately, Gidget passed away at the age of 15 from a stroke, according to her trainer, Sue Chipperton. The pup had a stroke at Chippertons home, and they decided it was best to euthanize her. The famous pup was cremated, and her ashes stayed with Chipperton in her home.

While she may be gone, she brought so much joy through her role as the Taco Bell mascot - a joy that will last forever.

What was your favorite Taco Bell commercial moment? Let us know on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

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