Early Friday morning, Rubén Aguirre – aka Profesor Jirafales – died from complications with pneumonia two days after turning 82. According to CNN en Español, his daughter Verónica Aguirre confirmed the news and explained that after being hospitalized in May, doctors decided he should recover at home a month later. “The doctor believed that it’d be better for him to be at home because in hospitals you run the risk of making the infection worse,” she said. “The truth is that my dad was very, very tired of being sick. Now he’s resting.”
Aguirre met Roberto Gómez Bolaños, aka Chespirito, through his work as an executive for the Televisión Independiente de México. Profesor Jirafales became one of the first roles he booked. Without question, it’s his most iconic one. When Jirafales wasn’t crushing hard on Doña Florinda, he taught the El Chavo del Ocho gang. That is, until he lost his patience with his travieso students and yelled, “¡Tá, tá, tá, tá, tá!”
The character’s biggest triumph is the impact he’s had in the lives of children all across Latin America and the United States. With his lessons on friendship and values, Profesor Jirafales was more than just the gang’s teacher; he was also ours.