Chuy Bravo Dies in Mexico City Just One Week After His 63rd Birthday
Chuy Bravo, made famous on Chelsea Handler’s late-night talk show, Chelsea Lately, has died at 63 years old. Bravo, born Jesús Melgoza, had just celebrated his 63rd birthday last week, on December 7, and reportedly died suddenly late Saturday night in Mexico City. Bravo was in the nation’s capital visiting family when he suddenly experienced enough stomach pain to land him in the hospital, where he shortly after died.
Chuy Bravo was the first Latino sidekick on a late-night cable television show. While Bravo was best known as Chelsea Handler’s “little nugget,” Bravo’s life experiences were enough for two people. Bravo was born with dwarfism in Mexico, and would later immigrate to the United States, fall victim to the family disease of alcoholism, overcome near-homelessness, prostate cancer and get sober, and become a famous comedian.
A week to the day before Bravo’s death, Chelsea Handler paid tribute to his life on his birthday, Dec. 7.
“Happy Birthday to my OG Nugget @chuybravo,” Handler captioned the above photo, adding, “I love this picture because–not only does it look like Chuy just launched out of my peekachu, I look like a member of ZZ Top. Happy birthday Chuy, and thank you for 8 years of heavy petting.”
Bravo landed his role on Chelsea Handler’s show after he heard that they were casting for a little person. “I thought, ‘why not?’,” he told Latina, saying that the two “hit it off right away.” When Bravo first rolled up to the studio for filming, Handler saw him in his beat-up car and said, “Oh no Chuy. You can’t be driving around in this,'” he recalled to Latina. “She took me to the dealer and bought me a new car. She didn’t have to do that and it inspired me to also give back.”
Bravo gave back in a big way by creating The Little Nugget Foundation to help alcoholics in his Mexican hometown.
Bravo was born in Tangancicuaro, Michoacán, Mexico on Dec. 7, 1956, as the youngest of seven children. He immigrated to the United States when he was 15 years old, and settled in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles, graduating from Sylmar High School. He went on to appear in films like “The Honeymooners” (2005) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (2007), which all helped him land his breakthrough role as a co-star on Chelsea Lately from 2007 to 2014.
Still, before the fame, Bravo nearly became homeless. He told Latina that he thinks his alcoholism was sparked when he “was young and trying to follow a crowd. At the time, it was what my friends were doing so I was just trying to keep up. It ended up catching up with me in the long run.” Bravo used his experience, strength and hope to launch The Little Nugget Foundation to offer a rehab center for alcoholics seeking recovery in his hometown, Tangancicuaro. “I know all of the problems they are going through because I lived through them,” Bravo related to the outlet. “The government and the drug lords don’t help the situation either. Places like these need our help. I visit the foundation often and bring them food, clothes – whatever they need. I try to help in any way that I can,” he added.
Family, friends, and fans are pouring out their condolences.
“I loved this nugget in a big way, and I took great pleasure in how many people loved him as much as I did and do,” Handler shared to Instagram hours after the news broke. “@chuybravo gave us so much laughter and I’ll never forget the sound of his laughter coming from his office into mine. Or his “business calls” with his “business manager,” or his shoe rack with all his children-sized shoes. I’ll never forget him coming to Christmas with my family one year in the Florida keys, and when my niece who was 5 or 6 at the time—saw him, she ran in the other direction saying she was scared. My sister and I were mortified and were apologizing to Chuy, who told us, “it’s ok, lots of little kids get scared when they see big kids coming their way.” I love you, Chuy!”
Many of Bravo’s friends are in shock to hear of his sudden death. “Wow I can’t believe this. We just spoke on the phone the other day. I’m heartbroken. Wish I got to see you again. Rest In Peace buddy,” commented one friend on Instagram. Bravo himself told Latina during a 2012 interview, “I have been through a lot in my life, but I’ve overcome my struggles and now I’m finally living my life.” Rest in peace, Chuy Bravo. You will be missed.
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