Thousands of Chespirito fans gather in Mexican stadium for heartfelt tribute

A massive tribute to Roberto Gómez Bolaños, 'Chespirito,' took place Sunday in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, where tens of thousands of fans bid farewell to the iconic comedian.

Gómez Bolaños, creator of “El Chavo del Ocho” and several characters memorable to generations of Latin Americans, died Friday in Cancún. He was 85.

The Sunday tribute was held at the home of Club America, his favorite soccer team, and included a Mass ceremony at noon.

Organizers asked the fans to bring a white flower with them to honor the beloved Chespirito.

The remains of Gómez Bolaños were transferred on Saturday from Cancun to Mexico City, where the comedian was born and lived until 2009.

On the artist's official Twitter account, @ChespiritoRGB, the family expressed their gratitude for the downpour of affection.

"On behalf of the family, thank you for so much love," the message said.

Chespirito warmed the hearts of millions with a clean comedy style far removed from the sexual innuendo and obscenity-laced jokes popular today. In a career that started in the 1950s, he wrote hundreds of television episodes, 20 films and theater productions that drew record-breaking audiences.

It is said he took his inspiration from Laurel and Hardy as well as Mexico's other transcendent comedian who eventually made it to Hollywood, Cantinflas.

His prolific output earned him the nickname "Chespirito." It came from the Spanish phonetic pronunciation of Shakespeare — "Chespir" — combined with "ito," a diminutive commonly used in Mexico that seemed natural for Gomez Bolaños because of his short stature.

Talented both on the screen and behind it, he achieved smashing success in 1970 with the creation of "Chespirito," a television show that included segments about "The Crimson Grasshopper."

The goofy superhero dressed in a red bodysuit and hood with antennae that helped him detect danger miles away. He completed the outfit with yellow shorts and boots, giving him the look of a red bumblebee. The character, whose superpowers included shrinking to the size of a pill and dodging enemies, constantly repeated his signature phrases, "You didn't count on my cleverness" and "All the good people, follow me."

In 1971, Gomez Bolaños wrote and acted as "El Chavo del Ocho" ("The Boy from the Eight"), a reference to the channel that broadcast the show.

"El Chavo" proved so popular that reruns are still shown in multiple countries in Latin American and on Spanish language television in the United States.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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