Also Credited As:Mario Lopez
|Mario Lopez on October 10, 1973 in San Diego, California, USA|
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Lopez was born Oct. 10, 1973, and raised near San Diego, CA. The irrepressible entertainer was taking dance lessons by age three, and at age 10, was discovered at a talent competition by an agent who encouraged the youngster to try for an acting career. It was not long before he was cast on the short-lived sitcom, "a.k.a. Pablo" (ABC, 1984), starring Paul Rodriguez as a Mexican-American comedian whose assimilated parents disapprove of his ethnic-based humor. Lopez went on to become a featured player on the kids' musical series "Kids Incorporated" (syndicated, 1984-1993) where, for two years (1984-86) he further developed his dance skills. Guest roles on primetime series followed, including a heart-tugging appearance on "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1985-1992) as an inspiring young student of Dorothy's who risks deportation because of his prize-winning essay on coming to America. The following year, Lopez made his feature debut in a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it bit part in "Colors" (1987), the gritty L.A. gang drama starring Robert Duvall and Sean Penn.
In 1989, the newcomer scored his first regular series role on a syndicated Saturday morning favorite called "Saved By the Bell," a laugh track-enhanced teen sitcom in which he utilized his own high school wrestling physique to play the stock "jock" and lady killer character, A.C. Slater. Unsurprisingly, Lopez became an overnight teen idol and graced the pages of many a teenage pin-up magazine. He also earned a number of acting nominations from the Young Actors Awards, and took home a trophy in 1993 for Best Young Actor in an Off-Primetime Series. He won a second award that year for hosting NBC's unique home viewer participatory series "Name Your Adventure" (1992-93). The following year, the reign of "Saved By the Bell" came to an end, but Lopez reprised Slater in the short-lived primetime spin-off "Saved By the Bell: The College Years" (NBC, 1993-94). Another special, "Saved By the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas" (1994), was rolled out before the series was tentatively retired.
Never one to miss a chance at exposing his impressive physique, Lopez made an appearance on "Superstar American Gladiators" (ABC, 1995), and then returned to game show hosting at the helm of the action-packed "Masters of the Maze" (Family Channel, 1995-96). Attempting to bring a darker edge to his squeaky clean image, Lopez unwisely teamed with Corey Haim in the direct-to-video horror film "Fever Lake" (1996) and was featured in the high school revenge TV movie, "Killing Mr. Griffin" (NBC, 1997). What proved far more impressive was Lopez's surprisingly adept and sensitive turn portraying the legendary Olympic diver in "Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story" (USA, 1997), based on the athlete's memoirs. Lopez capably handled the traumas of Louganis' life, including homophobia, dyslexia and testing HIV positive, as well as his triumphs as a four-time Olympic gold medal winner.
Lopez returned to series television in 1998 in the USA Network crime series "Pacific Blue" (1995-2000), in an appropriately beefcake role as an angry former LAPD officer-turned-bicycle patrolman and part of a team who go undercover to eliminate the insidious criminal element of Southern California's beach communities. The same year, Lopez hosted the "Miss Teen USA 1998" pageant, where he met show commentator and former pageant queen, Ali Landry, best known as the hot "Dorito girl" of numerous commercials geared toward men. The pair began a long-term relationship and was engaged in 2003; however, their brief 2004 marriage was annulled over Landry's allegations that Lopez was unfaithful throughout the long relationship, including up to and during his bachelor party. The bit of public embarrassment behind him, Lopez shouldered on with his career. Having finally proven his ability to inhabit different screen personas, Lopez returned to feature work with a starring role in the direct-to-video thriller "Absolution" (1999) and as the co-star of the action adventure, "The Padre of Santa Rosa" (2000), alongside Jimmy Smits.
Alternating back to hosting gigs from another brief acting foray, Lopez joined Dick Clarke, Danny Bonaduce and Dr. Jan Adams to co-host the roundtable talk show "The Other Half" (syndicated, 2001-03), an ill-conceived gender alternate to the female-hosted hit, "The View" (ABC, 1997- ). Lopez re-teamed with wild man Bonaduce to serve as that former child star's trainer in Fox's sad spectacle "Celebrity Boxing" (2002), and lowered the bar even further as host of the animal talent competition, "Pet Star" (2002-05) for Animal Planet. He next starred in the feature "Outta Time" (2002) as a college student forced to work in a shady business to pay his tuition. But as Lopez's films went unnoticed, his hosting career continued to take off with talent shows like "Second Chance: America's Most Talented Senior" (NBC, 2002-03) and "Miss Teen USA 2003," as well as a co-hosting gig on "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve 2003" (ABC) alongside the television legend.
After a recurring guest appearance on "Nip/Tuck" (FX Network, 2003-2010) as a plastic surgeon who gives Dr. Troy (Julian McMahon) liposuction, Lopez joined 10 other celebrities for the third season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), the weekly dance competition pairing professional dancers with inexperienced celebs. Lopez displayed considerable talent from the start, ending up in second place on the series and in a long denied but obvious relationship with his professional dancer, Karina Smirnoff. His popularity as a TV "personality" proved to have even more staying power post-"Dancing." He landed a co-anchor position alongside Thea Andrews on "ESPN Hollywood" (ESPN2, 2005-06), an entertainment news magazine style show that focused on sports figures. The odd hybrid proved a miss with the network's audience and was cancelled in under six months, but his short run led to Lopez being offered a job as a celebrity correspondent and weekend host for "Extra." Meanwhile, Lopez held down a day job playing Dr. Christian Ramirez on "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS, 1987- ).
In 2007, Lopez was lucky enough to be hosting the "Miss Teen USA 2007," a memorable pageant which featured a concise redux of the American education system by South Carolina contestant, Caitlin Upton. Lopez ran into fewer awkward moments while hosting "Miss America" and "Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew" (MTV, 2008- ) the same year. Still dipping his toe occasionally into the acting pool, Lopez co-starred with Melissa Joan Hart in the ABC Family Channel movie "Holiday in Handcuffs" (2007), based on the decidedly family unfriendly premise of a woman kidnapping a handsome man to pose as her boyfriend during a holiday visit home. In a creepily similar follow-up, Lopez played a day laborer hired by a woman to pose as her husband in order for her to receive a family inheritance in "Husband for Hire" (Oxygen, 2008). The year 2008 found Lopez on Broadway in a revival of "A Chorus Line," and cast as the host of the reality series "MTV's Top Pop Group" (MTV, 2008-09), for which he earned a nomination from the Teen Choice Awards for favorite TV personality. Adding to his career upswing, Lopez's position on "Extra" was upgraded to that of permanent weekday host.
After his two-year relationship with Smirnoff came to an end in 2008, Lopez began a relationship with Broadway performer Courtney Laine Mazza. In September 2010, the couple gave birth to a daughter, Gia Francesca Lopez - an event that was chronicled on the season-long reality series "Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby" (VH1, 2010-11). Soon after the final episode had aired, Lopez and Mazza announced their wedding engagement. Another TV project - "H8R" (CW, 2011), a show hosted by Lopez on which celebrities were confronted in person by individuals highly critical of some aspect of their image - met with nearly universal critical derision and was canceled after only four episodes. An endeavor far more likely to bear fruit for the industrious media figure was the singing competition "The X-Factor" (Fox, 2011- ), which was rumored to be adding Lopez and reality TV star Khloe Kardashian to its ranks as co-hosts for the 2012-13 season. The deal was confirmed the following month.