Every Sunday morning for nearly five decades, millions of Mexican families gathered around their televisions to watch Chabelo.
The squeaky-voiced, short-wearing child character was played by Mexican actor, entertainer, and businessman Xavier López Rodriguez, who died on Saturday at the age of 88.
His children’s game show En Familia con Chabelo (Family Time with Chabelo) aired live every Sunday for 45 years and even made the Guinness Book of Records for its unprecedented broadcast run.
This longevity inspired a massive internet fandom celebrating Chabelo’s seeming immortality. Although the television program finished in 2015, memes about the character – inserting him into Mexican historical events, placing him at the Last Supper or even suggesting he had lived through the Big Bang – continued for years.
But these irreverent jokes hid a genuine affection. Generations grew up with Chabelo’s albums, films, and Sunday television series. As Laura Martínez, a Mexican journalist based in New York, told the BBC, “There is not one Mexican person who doesn’t know Chabelo.”
Lopez was later awarded two Guinness Records, one for the longest career as a children’s television host and the other for his six decades playing Chabelo.