Happy 41st Birthday, Mario Lopez!
From Saved by the Bell to Extra TV, this dimpled heartthrob has been our ultimate-crush for over 20 years. In his recently released memoir Just Between Us, Lopez gave us a behind-the-scenes look at his Hollywood life — from teen stardom to fatherhood and marriage.
Here are 8 things we learned about Mario Lopez from his memoir:
1. mario slide 01
He almost died as a baby:
As a newborn, Lopez couldn't stomach milk. He became very sick, and shrunk to half his birth weight because of violent vomiting and diarrhea. Doctors told his parents it was only a matter of time until he died. Even after he was blessed by a priest, his father refused to acknowledge he was dying. He kidnapped Mario from the hospital and took him to a witch doctor — a bruja — across the border.
"Whatever the magic was, she mixed it with Pedialyte and suero (fermented milk like yogurt) She brewed it up, added goat's milk, and said to my dad, 'Give him that.' The concoction had Carnation evaporated milk in it — a quarter of a bottle — and the rest was mostly water," he wrote.
From then on, Lopez ate normally and grew to an enormous size. He even boasted a set of adorable jelly rolls as a bebe!
2. mario slide 02
He doesn't have a middle name:
"I was given the name Mario Lopez, which should have made me a junior, but for some reason my mom and dad opted not to give me the middle name of Alberto," he explained in his memoir. "That made me the only person of Mexican descent that I know who doesn't have at least one middle name."
3. mario slide 03
He caught the performing bug at an early age:
Mario Lopez revealed that his early exposure to mariachi music inspired his love of theatrics. He caught the performing bug as a young child, and began singing Spanish songs in local competitions.
When he turned three-years-old, his mother insisted on enrolling him in dance classes. He soon grew to love the practice (if only because he was the only male in a room full of girls!) Later, his dance and singing background helped him book his first major role on Kids Incorporated.
4. mario slide 04
His nickname in school was "Pitface."
Those infamous dimples might be his trademark these days, but as a child, they caused him nothing but problems. "Kids at school never told me that dimples were cool," he wrote. "They used to say, "Oh you got holes in your face!" Holes in my face? LIttle kids in Chula could be tough. Or, because my dimples are really pretty deep, they'd call me 'Pitface.'"
5. mario slide 05
He was asked to change his name for Hollywood:
As a rising star in Hollywood, Mario Lopez struggled with his Latino name.
"Either I wasn't ethnic enough or I wasn't all-American enough. And I didn't get a lot of jobs that I auditioned for — more than I could count," he wrote. He even revealed that Hollywood execs asked him to consider changing his name to something "less ethnic."
"Agents and manager types wanted me to make the change to widen my appeal," he continued. "After all, they argued, the respected Mexican actor Anthony Quinn had changed his name from Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca."
6. mario slide 06
7. mario slide 07
In one of the more shocking revelations from his new memoir, Lopez admits that his father used to smuggle immigrants across the United States/Mexico border. "I was born in Chula, Vista [Calif.], which is the border town to Tijuana, and I'm a child of immigrants," he recently said. "My dad did what he had to to take care of us. Often times, when we'd take little trips across the border — and this was obviously pre-9/11 — we'd come back right away. He'd pull over and he'd open the trunk and sometimes people would come out."