Ana Ofelia Murguía, the Mexican actor known for her role in the Disney Pixar animation Coco, has died at the age of 90.
Murguía, whose career in film spanned more than four decades, voiced the character of great-grandmother Mama Coco in the acclaimed children’s film. Before her death, she was recognised as one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.
Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature announced the actor’s death on social media, writing in a statement: “With deep sadness we mourn the death of leading actress Ana Ofelia Murguía, who was part of the stable cast of the National Theater Company of Mexico, and whose artistic career was vital for the performing arts of Mexico.
“We send condolences and warm hugs to her family and friends.”
Born in 1933, Murguía enjoyed a storied career in the Mexican entertainment industry, and was also celebrated for her work on TV and on stage.
She won a number of the country’s most prestigious acting awards, including three times for Best Supporting Actress at the Ariel Awards in 1979, 1986 and 1996.
In 2011, she was honoured with a special lifetime achievement Golden Ariel award, which was jointly awarded that year to writer-director Jorge Fons.
To English-speaking audiences, she was best known for her role in the 2017 animated film Coco, which tells the story of a young Mexican boy who journeys to the land of the dead.
The film was championed for its evocation of Mexican culture and folklore, and featured a memorable duet sung by Murguía’s character and her great-grandson, titled “Remember Me”.
The song won the Best Original Song trophy at the Academy Awards in 2018, beating efforts such as Call Me By Your Name’s “Mystery of Love” and The Greatest Showman’s “This is Me”.
Coco was also seen as a vibrant exploration of death, with The Independent’s critic Clarisse Loughrey noting: “In Coco, Pixar turns to Mexican traditions to offer a more optimistic view: ‘final death’ should not be viewed as some unavoidable terror, but as a remembrance to treasure our loved ones – both the living, and the dead.”
The film itself was awarded Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, ahead of nominees including The Boss Baby, art film Loving Vincent, and Irish animation The Breadwinner.
Among Murguía’s other best known projects was the 1994 film La Reina de la Noche (English title: The Queen of the Night), which followed a cabaret artist who moves to Mexico after fleeing Berlin in Nazi Germany.
In addition to her three Ariel wins, she was also nominated five times for Best Actress, holding the record for the most nominations in the category.