Happy Birthday Mario Lopez! The Saved By The Bell Star Turns 45
Beloved actor Mario Lopez is celebrating his 45th birthday on October 10, 2018!
After a small start on television in the mid ’80s, Lopez’s big break came in 1989 when he began starring on Saved by the Bell as Albert Clifford “A.C.” Slater at only 16 years old. He went on to reprise the iconic role in Saved by the Bell: The College Years and in two episodes of Saved by the Bell: The New Class. He continued acting with roles in many shows including Pacific Blue, The Bold and the Beautiful and Nip/Tuck. He regained popularity after he appeared on Dancing With the Stars in the show’s third season with his pro partner and then-girlfriend Karina Smirnoff where the duo came in second place. Lopez has also become one of TV’s most popular hosting personalities with his hosting duties of Extra, America’s Best Dance Crew and The X Factor.
As for his personal life, Lopez married actress Ali Landry in April of 2004, but the marriage was annulled after only two weeks. He went on to date his Dancing With the Stars partner Karina Smirnoff in 2006, but the pair broke up in 2008. In the fall of 2008, he met Courtney Mazza and the pair were married on December 1, 2012. Together they have welcomed daughter Gia Francesca and son Dominic.
In honor of his 45th birthday, take a look back at his beloved role in the most memorable episodes of Saved by the Bell:
The 11 Most Memorable Episodes Of Saved By The Bell
11. “The Fabulous Belding Boys” S2, E15
While the show is cheesy and innocent, especially in comparison to the problems of youth today that many show’s portray, Saved By the Bell had its sincere and heartfelt moments, and one of the most memorable was thanks to the episode “The Fabulous Belding Boys.” All through the show Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins) tries to be friends with the kids but also has to be the one to scold them every time something goes wrong, which made the gang very happy to be introduced to Mr. Belding’s younger, cooler, “surfer-dude” brother. Aside from the fact his name is Rod and Mr. Belding’s is Richard making them Rod and Dick, they are complete opposites. As Rod Belding steps in to substitute teach he gives the kids the grades they want and allows their “senior class trip” to be a whitewater rafting trip; however, he quickly ditches them for a hot airplane stewardess, leaving Mr. Belding to step in. This episode shows us that although Mr. Belding has to be the one to punish the kids when they screw up, it also shows how much he really cares about them.
10. “The Fight” S4, E1
Just because Saved By the Bell was an innocent ’90s show did not mean there wasn’t violence and in “The Fight” Zack and Slater actually come to blows in the hallway. This episode is so memorable because, although it is unlikely that such different people would form such a strong bond as best friends in the first place, it works, and it is also interesting because, although best buds Zack and Slater have competed over a girl before, for some reason they cannot settle this one without getting angry enough to hit each other. With a joke usually hidden around the corner in this show, there was nothing about funny seeing our two favorite guys hitting each other over a girl in what was a shockingly realistic conflict.
9. The Malibu Sands Episodes
Over the course of four seasons this particular group of friends got themselves involved in a lot of crazy and fun things for young teenagers, and their summer jobs were no exception. Thanks to Lisa’s rich parents, the kids landed jobs at the Malibu Sands club, each having their own experiences. A lot of funny things happened during these episodes but one of the best was having Leah Remini appear as Stacey Carosi, yet another love interest for Zack. However, unlike many of his other single episode girlfriends, Stacey was in this whole block of episodes and also unlike the other girls, gave Zack a run for his money. Bayside was a lot of fun and we definitely missed Mr. Belding, but having the group in a brand new environment was a breath of fresh air, and along with some new faces, gave the characters and fans something new to look forward to with the show.
8. “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” S4, E20
Regardless of it being a TV show, there was some reality to highschool life at Bayside and we all remember having to take part in or at least watch plays and productions put on by drama classes and clubs. In “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” the group puts on a hip-hop version of the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which means yes they are rapping. Interestingly enough though what makes this memorable more than the rapping is the feelings that develop between Zack and Jessie as they play Snow White and the Prince. Slater gets mad, not to mention Zack and Jessie freak out for what it means for their friendship, and fans were happy because for years we were wondering if this was ever going to happen after so many years of Zack and Jessie being best friends.
7. “Save the Max” S2, E3
No TV series is complete without a flashback episode and Saved By the Bell is no exception with “Save the Max” from season two. This episode is critical because with The Max being the central and coolest hangout, the group could not stand to lose it and it was also memorable because we can never forget seeing Mr. Belding as a student in the ’70s with a rocking mustache causing trouble as the school’s radio DJ Richard “The Big Bopper” Belding. Once again Zack proves how ingenious he is by getting the station up and running with everyone having their own segment but, even more importantly, A.C. finally gets his chance to shine by saving the day for once.
6. “Pipe Dreams” S3, E11
All in all, Zack Morris can come off as quite a rude and selfish guy for the most part, but then there are moments and episodes where he shines through with a heart as golden as his hair and we realize why we love him. Not only is “Pipe Dreams” probably one of the episodes that is re-run the most, it is also quite realistically emotional and pulls on the heartstrings of animal lovers everywhere. Although most of the group are excited about the fact oil has been found under Bayside, making for endless possibilities for a big, new school, none of it matters after an oil spill harms many of the pond’s animals and who can forget watching Zack’s beloved Becky the Duck dead in his arms? His speech against the oil company at the end is mature and intelligent and seemingly very real as he is fueled by the sad death of Becky.
5. “Fake ID’s” S3, E9
As Zack, Slater, Kelly, Screech, Jessie and Lisa get older, their issues and drama get increasingly more interesting, including Zack getting fake ID’s made so that he can chase a college girl he met at The Max. This episode is most memorable because for once the humor is succinct and well-written rather than cheesy and predictable to fall in line with what is expected from the show. Of course, what is most memorable is that we are relieved to know there may be hope for Zack and Kelly yet after her sketchy older boyfriend Jeff is caught cheating on her with a different girl at the same club they get into with their fake ID’s. We laugh and get to say goodbye to Jeff, and we realize the pain we endured from the previous episode “The Last Dance” may not last.
4. “Rockumentary” S3, E22
Just as many shows can’t get by without a flashback episode, just as many can’t get by without a musical episode and given the cheesiness of this show in particular, a musical episode fit right in. This half hour of television had fans as confused as could be because, even though we had become accustomed to rather silly or ridiculous storylines or plot points, this really took the cake. Out of nowhere, the group’s band, Zack Attack, featuring Zack as the leader of course, are megastars and the whole thing is presented documentary style by none other than Casey Kasem. It was weird and strange, and yes it all turned out to be a dream, but we loved this episode and definitely still sing along to “Friends Forever” whether we admit it or not.
3. “The Prom” S2, E1
For one entire season we begin to see that for all his womanizing ways, Zack really is infatuated with Kelly Kapowski and finally in the first episode of season two she agrees to go to prom with him. While it is absolutely adorable to see Zack so happy, his dreams are almost dashed when Kelly can no longer go because her dad lost his job and she can’t buy a dress. Because she is too nervous to tell him the truth she doesn’t explain to Zack why she can’t go and, when he finds out on his own, he does the most romantic thing ever — he takes Kelly to their very own prom outside of the school. This episode made us realize Zack and Kelly were meant to be together, and at the same time another important relationship came to a head. After Screech is lusting over Lisa for quite some time, she agrees to go on a date with him, only for Screech to realize she’s now what he wants, to Lisa’s horror.
2. “The Last Dance” S3, E1
“The Last Dance” is memorable because it is the exact opposite of the love we all felt with “The Prom” and is the beginning to the antics and dramatics that take place in the “Fake ID’s” episode. After Kelly gets her first job as a waitress at The Max, she inevitably falls for her older college-aged manager Jeff and likes him so much she breaks up with Zack. This episode is memorable because this “happy” sitcom took a turn to the very real heartbreaks of young love and we all felt the sadness right there alongside Zack as Kelly broke his heart, and we realized Saved By the Bell wasn’t always predictable and fluffy. Of course, we know it didn’t last long with Jeff being caught cheating not long after, and much later Zack and Kelly do get married, so happily ever after is achieved.
1. “Jessie’s Song” S2, E9
Last but certainly not least in the memorable Saved By the Bell episodes is “Jessie’s Song.” Pressures on youth is a topic that is stressed even more today and this addition to the show’s canon is heavy and dark in message compared to most of the other episodes. If not the most memorable, definitely the most infamous, this episode sees star student Jessie Spano buckle under the pressure of being the best at everything and take caffeine pills to keep up with the demands. While the episode is looked back on with humor, the image of her bursting into tears and ending “I’m so excited” with “I’m so scared” truly is powerful. We also once again get some extreme realism shining through all the usual bluster as Zack remains a true and loyal friend to help Jessie through her issues the best that he can.