On this day in comedy on April 23, 1961 Comedian, Actor, Talk Show Host, George Lopez was born in Mission Hills, California.
Deserted by his father at 2 months old and his mother at 10 years old, Lopez was raised by his grandmother and step-grandfather. He forged his standup material from race and Mexican-American culture in particular. He made a name for himself with this formula on Latin and mainstream comedy stages. Then after years of ping-ponging successes and failures, Lopez got his career changer.
At the turn of the Century, movie star actress, Sandra Bullock got a thirst for diverse television. She saw a void in Hispanic representation and went to Lopez to do something about it. If she would lend her name and influence to getting a show about Hispanics greenlit, would he star in it? Duh. Not only did George Lopez star in The George Lopez Show, he also co-created, wrote and produced it as well. The show was a huge hit for ABC, which had previously received flack for a lack of racial programming. The show ran from 2002-2007 and was a surprise and sustaining hit when it went into syndication. However, Lopez had some choice words for the network’s president, Steve McPherson, claiming his sitcom had been given the axe to make TV more white again. The George Lopez Show was replaced by Cavemen, a sitcom about cavemen. It was cancelled after 13 episodes.
During his time on the sitcom, Lopez took advantage of his increased profile. He was a cast member on HBO’s Inside the NFL. He starred in the Disney Christmas film Naughty or Nice and in the Robert Rodriguez directed The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Lopez garnered accolades for his performance in the HBO drama, Real Women Have Curves., receiving the Audience Award for 2002. He was honored with the 2003 Imagen Vision Award, the Latino Spirit Award and was selected as Time magazine’s “Top 25 Hispanics in America” in 2005.
Also during the taping of The George Lopez Show, its star had a medical emergency. Doctor’s informed Lopez that his genetic condition now required an immediate kidney transplant. In stepped his wife, Ann to provide the much needed organ. Lopez took this life saving blessing to his sitcom in an episode highlighting the threatening affliction.
In 2009, following a couple of years of guest starring and road work, Lopez was back in front of a television audience in a night-time talk show, Lopez Tonight on TBS. His show ran for a year undisturbed until 2010 when it was moved back in the time slot so Conan O’Brien’s show could premiere and occupy Lopez’s time frame, a move Lopez himself supported. In 2011 Lopez Tonight was cancelled, the same year Lopez and Ann’s divorce became final.
In 2014 George Lopez signed up to star in a sitcom for FX called Saint George. Under the network’s agreement a new show had to hit a certain ratings threshold in its first 10 episodes to get a back order of an additional 90. Saint George wasn’t so blessed and got cancelled in 2014.
In March of 2016 TV-Land debuted the sitcom, Lopez.
George Lopez has stretched his tentacles creatively. He has co-written his autobiography. He’s hosted award shows, appeared at the 2009 Inaugural celebration, and has received many humanitarian awards. All during that time he’s also toured as a top standup comedian.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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