Roberto G__mez Bola__os, Mexico_s Comedic Artist _Chespirito,_ Dies at 85

His death was announced by the Mexican television network Televisa, which did not specify the cause.

Mr. Bola__os, known by his nickname, Chespirito (chess-pee-REE-toh), was on Mexican television for more than 40 years, and millions of children across the Spanish-speaking world and beyond came of age watching his shows in syndication. His situation comedy _El Chavo del Ocho_ (_The Boy from No. 8_) was first produced by Televisa in 1971 and remains one of the network_s most famous and lucrative franchises.

President Enrique Pe__a Nieto posted on Twitter on Friday, _Mexico has lost an icon whose work has transcended generations and borders._

Roberto G__mez Bola__os was born on Feb. 21, 1929, in Mexico City, to Francisco G__mez Linares, a noted painter and illustrator, and Elsa Bola__os-Cacho.

Mr. Bola__os, an engineer by training, started writing at an advertising agency when he was 22. He soon tried his hand at radio, television and movie scripts. Success followed, and by the late 1950s he had begun contributing to the highest-rated television shows in Mexico. It was during that time that he earned his nickname, Chespirito, or Little Shakespeare, from Agust__n P. Delgado, the television and film director.

In 1966 he was approached by Mario Moreno, better known as Cantinflas, Mexico_s most famous comic actor, to write a television series for him. According to Mr. Bola__os_s official website, the project was scrapped by its sponsor.

By 1970, Mr. Bola__os was acting and directing in his own sketch comedy hour. It was there that his character El Chapul__n Colorado, or the Crimson Grasshopper, was born: a cocky but dimwitted superhero who always caught the bad guys through sheer luck.

_More agile than a turtle, stronger than a mouse, nobler than a lettuce, his coat of arms is a heart,_ the announcer intoned during the program_s opening. _It_s the Crimson Grasshopper!_

El Chapul__n_s weapon of choice was a mallet (_chipote chill__n_), a squeaky version of Thor_s hammer. He also used _chiquitolina_ pills that shrank him to about eight inches tall, which allowed Mr. Bola__os to use blue screens and other techniques to introduce Latin American audiences to innovative visual effects.

_El Chavo del Ocho_ appeared a year later, in 1971. In that show Mr. Bola__os played a freckled 8-year-old orphan who lives in a barrel and is constantly getting into trouble. The show relied heavily on physical comedy __ la Laurel and Hardy, but it also had instructive and heartwarming story lines that touched on friendship, family and even class.

_It was a wholesome program, and the star was the script,_ the actor Carlos Villagr__n, who played a spoiled little boy with bulging cheeks named Quico, said in a 1994 interview. _The show might lose visual quality over the years, but the humor will endure._

_El Chavo,_ which ceased production in 1992, continues to average millions of daily viewers in all of the markets where it is distributed in the Americas, according to a report by Forbes.

Mr. Bola__os continued to act and write. In 1992 he starred in _11 and 12,_ a play about a man trying get his wife pregnant after losing his genitals in an accident. The play, which he wrote, set a record in Mexico by running for more than 3,200 performances. It also played to sold-out audiences in more than 30 Latin American cities.

_I never wrote for children,_ Mr. Bola__os said in a 1999 interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada. _I wrote with respect for the audience, which I_ve maintained all my life. Doesn_t mean I couldn_t be risqu__, but I did it smartly, without being vulgar._

Mr. Bola__os is survived by his second wife, the actress Florinda Meza (who played the haughty and overprotective Do__a Florinda, Quico_s mother, in _El Chavo_), as well as six children from his first marriage, to Graciela Fern__ndez, and 12 grandchildren.

Mr. Bola__os was said to be in poor health, and his death was mistakenly reported numerous times on social media over the past few years. To stay in touch with fans, he joined Twitter in 2011 and posted: _Hello. I_m Chespirito. I_m 82 years old and this is the first time I tweet. This is my debut._

He ended the message with a popular refrain used by El Chapul__n Colorado: _Good people, follow me!_ At his death, he had more than six million followers.


New York Times | By ELIAS E. LOPEZ

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