Who is Chespirito? What is his age?

Born Roberto Gómez Bolaños under the sign of Pisces at exactly 8 AM, on Thursday, 21 February 1929 in Mexico City, Mexico, ‘Little Shakespeare’ Chespirito was an award-winning Hispanic screenwriter, playwright, actor, director, producer, comedian, humorist, songwriter and author. He owed his legendary repute to creating some of the most iconic comedy TV series and characters in Latin American history, leading many colleagues and fans alike to dub him the all-time most significant Spanish-language humorist. Most notably, he was the creator and portrayer of “El Chavo del Ocho” and “Chespirito.” He had had an enormous number of successes throughout his generally remunerative 58-year long dramatic arts career, from 1956 until his passing at age 85 in 2014.

Early life: The making of a pioneer

Chespirito was born to a painter and illustrator father Francisco Gómez Linares, who died in 1935 at age 41, and bilingual secretary mother Elsa Bolaños Aguilar, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 66 in 1968. Elsa suffered an accident while pregnant with Chespirito and was advised by the doctors to abort, which she refused. His maternal grandfather was military doctor Ramón Bolaños Cacho, whose wife Maria Aguilar hailed from Zacatecas. Chespirito was also first cousin once removed of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, who was the 1964-1970 president of Mexico. He was raised the second of three sons in a middle-class neighborhood of his birthplace. Chespirito’s elder brother Francisco was born in 1926 and died in 2010, and the younger, fellow actor Horacio Gómez Bolaños, whom he co-starred with in “El Chavo del Ocho”, was born on 28 July 1930 and died 21 November 1999. He also has a half brother from his father’s side. Growing up, he was interested in boxing, soccer, engineering and the cinema. After matriculating from an unspecified high school in Mexico City in 1947, Chespirito began studying mechanical engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, but apparently never graduated.

Career: A misplaced champion

The legendary comedian was initially everything except that, starting out as an amateur boxer in his teenage years. He spent over half a decade trying to get a writing job, until eventually being identified as an actor. In 1956, he began writing, and starring in children’s shows, “Cómicos y Canciones” being the first title he worked on, and later “El Estudio de Pedro Vargas” in 1959, which became the two most popular TV series in Mexico at the time.

The very next year his writing produced another four titles, including the highly rated “El Dolor de Pagar la Renta.” He wrote the dialogue for “¡En Peligro de Muerte!” in 1962, and then the entirety of the sci-fi comedy entitled “Los Invisibles” in 1963. Two years and three projects later, he wrote four titles in 1966, five in 1967, and four more in 1968, including most importantly the “Sábados de la Fortuna” segment entitled “Los Supergenios de la Mesa Cuadrada”, which later became his eponymous show. After two productions in 1969, he wrote another six in 1970, most significantly the romantic comedy TV series “Chespirito” – his first of three unforgettable works.

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Writing in the 70’s and onwards

In 1972, Chespirito started working on his career highlight – 70 episodes of the comedy TV series “El Chavo del Ocho”, over the next seven years. He wrote or otherwise created 57 episodes of “El Chapulín Colorado”, from 1973 to 1979, and a year later his reboot of “Chespirito” started airing – this time a highly acclaimed crime family sitcom that would run for 15 years. By 1990 he had written for another eight titles, most prominently both the screenplay and story of “Charrito” six years prior.

Having created a character in one title in 1994 and a film in 1998, Chespirito started writing again in 2003, producing the story of the TV mini-series entitled “Oobi, el Compayito.” Three years later he began writing for the animation entitled “El Chavo”, helping create over 112 episodes over the next 10 years. His last project as a screenwriter, and was overall only realized posthumously in 2015, were the 74 episodes of “El Chapulín Colorado” he wrote, which began airing through 2017. Lastly, his screenplay for “El Chapulín Colorado 3D” was announced sometime later, but production is yet to commence as of mid-2022.

Acting career

Although generally known as the actor who carried his legendary characters, Chespirito was first and foremost a screenwriter, which is why his acting credits aren’t even a half of his writing. He debuted as Don Juan in 1960’s “Dos Locos en Escena”, appearing as El Maestro in “Dos Criados Malcriados” in the same year as well. His next role only came seven years later, in “El Mundo Loco de los Jóvenes”, then after playing Psicologo in “El Zángano” and two other roles in 1968, as well as one in 1969, he had another six in 1970, most importantly Chespirito in the eponymous title.

Two years later, he began starring as El Chavo, in 107 episodes of “El Chavo del Ocho” stretching over the next 11 years. Concurrently, in 1973 he started playing both El Chapulín and Dr. Chapatín in 151 episodes of “El Chapulín Colorado”, through 1979. In 1980 he began playing various characters in the TV series named after himself, appearing in 697 out of 700 episodes through 1995. His last acting credit was the voice of La Máquina, in two episodes of “El Chavo” in 2009 and 2010.

Career summary

Aside from his 23 acting and 58 writing credits, Chespirito has 13 producing and nine directing credits. He wrote the lyrics for 13 soundtracks, and performed three of them. Furthermore, he also has numerous theater credits, such as writing the play “11 y 12.” Throughout his illustrious career, the Mexican screenwriter worked on over 50 titles, and authored three books. “El Diario de El Chavo del Ocho” (“Diary From the Kid from Number Eight”) was published in 1995 as a sort-of extension of the legendary TV series. In 2003 he released “…Y También Poemas” (“…And Poems Too”) – his book of Spanish poetry. Finally, Chespirito clarified many events from his high-profile life near its end in 2012, when his autobiography “Sin Querer Queriendo: Memorias” (“Accidentally on Purpose: Memoirs”) was published.

Awards

Chespirito won his first two awards in 1987 – the TVyNovelas Award in the Best Comedy Actor and Best Comedy Program categories, for writing and starring in “Chespirito.” In 1991 he was again nominated for the pair, for the same title, winning in the Best Comedy Actor category. In 1997, he won the Special Silver Goddess award by the Mexican Cinema Journalists, for his television career and performance in 1972’s “El Chavo del Ocho.” In 2004, the Dominican Republic’s Art Chroniclers Association of the National Brewery gave him the International Sovereign award, to honor his entire career. In 2008 Chespirito won the Extraordinary Award at ACE Awards, and ultimately in 2013, he was given the prestigious Ondas Iberoamericano Award in the Most Outstanding Career on Television category.

Honors

Famous TV series “The Simpsons” created the character Bumblebee Man in 1992 to represent Chespirito. In 2000, Mexican mass media giant Televisa gave him the “They didn’t count on my cunning” tribute, to celebrate 30 years of “El Chavo del Ocho.” In 2009 the Colombian TV channel RCN honored the veteran by giving him the keys to the municipality of Soacha in Bogotá – the Colombian capital. In the same country there’s also a statue of “El Chavo”, in Cali.

On 29 February 2012, Televisa organized a commemoration of the screenwriter’s life and work at Mexico’s National Auditorium, in a special entitled “América celebra a Chespirito” (“America celebrates Chespirito”), which in spite of deteriorating health, he briefly attended in a wheelchair with oxygen tanks. The special was broadcast on 11 March in 17 South American countries, from which numerous actors and musicians arrived to honor the legend. Even Google celebrated his birthday in 2020, with a doodle lookalike. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a Chespirito biopic on the horizon.

The legacy of his characters

The three characters Chespirito created and portrayed most famously throughout his career are El Chavo, Chapulín Colorado and Dr. Chapatín, whom he continued to play past show-running on tours throughout South America and the US from 1995 until the late 2000’s. They are considered some of the greatest characters in Latino culture, especially El Chavo. Interestingly, the first name of every dramatis personae he created to personally portray starts with the letters ‘Ch’.

A battle lost

Actress María Antonieta de las Nieves was cast as the famous La Chilindrina in “El Chavo del Ocho” by Chespirito, after he heard her voice in a Televisa production in 1972. This character proved to be the role of her life, which she apparently wanted to keep playing off the show as well. However, since the character was Chespirito’s intellectual property, he filed a lawsuit against the actress in 2001, with the backing of Televisa. In 2013, María announced that she had won the legal battle, which provides her with every right to Chespirito’s original character, as well as the proceeds that come from featuring it. It’s believed that she gained millions from the settlement, which would go on to impair the series’ onscreen longevity.

Can you still watch Chespirito’s series?

Almost every TV channel in the world stopped broadcasting all of Chespirito’s creations on 1 August 2020, explaining that the contract with Televisa, which owns the series, had expired. The Mexican media conglomerate failed to renew the contracts due to various revenue disputes with both María Antonieta (for La Chilindrina) and Grupo Chespirito, who own all of the episode scripts and most characters. “El Chavo Animado”, however, created by Chespirito’s son Roberto Gómez Fernandez, can still be seen on Mexican television, on channels bitMe and Distrito Comedia, a whole 50 years after the original 1972’s “El Chavo del Ocho” started airing. Some of the series can also be purchased in their entirety on Amazon Prime Video.

Chespirito’s video games

“La Vecindad de El Chavo” popped up on Facebook in March 2012, shutting down on 4 August 2014 with millions of registered players., but that year, “El Chavo Kart” was made available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Android, although it was unlisted from Google Play later on. Lastly, also in 2014, “El Chavo: A Carnival in the Apartments” came out as an exclusive Android release, only to eventually be shut down as well.

Love life: Did he have a wife?

Chespirito’s first known relationship was with Graciela Fernández, whom he dated for a few years, married in 1968, and divorced in 1989. They had six children together, two of whom are famous in their own right: director and producer Roberto Gómez Fernandez, and literary consultant Graciela Gómez, alongside daughters Paulina, Cecilia, Teresa and Marcela. In 1977,  (while still married to Graciela), he started dating his apparently lifelong partner and co-star Florinda Meza, whom he met in 1973, and then cast as Doña Florinda in “El Chavo del Ocho”, marrying her at age 75 in a civil ceremony an entire 27 years later, on 19 November 2004. They didn’t have children. Meza joined Chespirito on the aforementioned touring, playing her iconic characters alongside him for a decade and a half. They were both honored with the keys of Cicero, Illinois in 2003.

How did Chespirito get his nickname?

In 1958, the screenwriter was still known only by his birth name, but while working with director and screenwriter Agustín P. Delgado on the story of “Los Legionarios”, his colleague began calling him ‘Little Shakespeare’. In Spanish, ‘Shakespeare’ is pronounced ‘Chespir’, and ‘ito’ is a diminutive attributed to the Mexican showrunner’s height of 5ft 3ins (160cm).

Chespirito’s death

The screenwriter’s health began to decline in late 2000’s, as primarily evidenced on 12 November 2009, when he was admitted into Mexico City hospital due to prostate issues; he had surgery and was released the next day. In 2012, there was a rumor that Chespirito was at death’s door, which he somewhat quashed by appearing at the “America celebrates Chespirito” event, though he couldn’t follow it through entirely. He passed away aged 85 at 2:30 PM on Friday, 28 November 2014, in his home in Cancún, Mexico, due to heart failure brought on by his progressed Parkinson’s disease. Numerous South American celebrities, predominantly from Mexico, took to social media to express their condolences to Chespirito’s family. The funeral was held privately the day following his passing, and publicly the next, with over 40,000 attendees at Estadio Azteca, Latin America’s largest stadium. The burial took place the next day, on 1 December 2014, at the Panteón Francés de la Piedad cemetery in Mexico City. Chespirito’s popularity was so unprecedented for a South American that even international media giants such as Al Jazeera spoke of his death. Widowed Meza has since decided to keep his grave private, hiring a security guard and installing a camera to watch over the area at all times.

What was Chespirito’s net worth?

Chespirito’s total accumulated wealth is estimated by most reputable sources at over $50 million. With a look at his all-encompassing career, it becomes clear how Latin America’s equivalent of Walt Disney garnered a sum this large, seeing as how he shaped the very history of his country’s cinema, and created characters that brought joy and valuable morals to generations upon generations of an entire continent.

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