María Salud Ramírez Caballero, Woman Believed to Have Inspired 'Mama Coco,' Dead at 109

The Mexico native reportedly died in the town she was born more than 100 years ago.

María Salud Ramírez Caballero, the woman believed to have inspired the character of Mama Coco in Disney Pixar's Coco, has died. 

Caballero died in her hometown, Santa Fe de la Laguna, where she was born on Sept. 16, 1913, TMZ reported, citing Roberto Monroy, the Secretary of Tourism for the Mexican state of Michoacan. She was 109 years old. 

While she had come to be known locally as Mama Coco -- a reference to the titular character of Disney Pixar's 2017 animated film -- Disney has not formally credited Caballero as the inspiration for the character, despite the undeniable likeness between them. In 2017, The New York Times reported that the Oscar-winning film's production team based the animated multi-generational family "on real-world families with whom they embedded while visiting the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guanajuato between 2011 and 2013." Caballero reportedly claimed she had been photographed by the production team. 

"This is not a true story. The character of Mamá Coco was not based upon any real person we met in our travels," Coco director Lee Unkrich tweeted in 2018. "She sprang solely from our imagination."

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Maria Salud Ramirez Caballero, 'Mama Coco', a tireless woman and example of life, who was the inspiration for this beloved character that went around the world," Monroy said upon her death, per Marca. "I pray for her eternal rest and for her family to find peace of mind."