In early February, Mario Lopez and his former castmates from “Saved by the Bell” reunited in a skit on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.”
Nearly the entire gang was there. No Screech (Dustin Diamond), but Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) and even principal Belding (Dennis Haskins) showed.
Guess who “killed it,” in Fallon’s words?
It was Mario, who now co-hosts the entertainment news show “Extra.” He did most of the skit wearing a skin-tight unitard that showcased the beefcake he is famous for.
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We don’t know what he’ll be wearing when he hosts a fundraiser for Truman Medical Centers here on Friday night. But unitard or not, something tells us the applause will be just as appreciative.
If you go or if you spot him around town before the event, here are 10 things you might not know about Mario Lopez.
1 The father of two has written two children’s books, part of his “Mud Taco” series. “I hope to do more,” he told us last week. The title is inspired by visits to his grandmother’s house as a little boy when he would play outside and get creative by making “mud tacos with the leaves as the tortillas.”
2 He’s a boxer. For the longest time in Hollywood he kept this passion to himself. Then in 2011 he agreed to be in a boxing documentary by his longtime friend, Bert Marcus. He has fought in charity exhibition matches, calls fights for Fox Sports 1 and recently signed on to executive produce a docu-reality series about championship boxing called “Los Golden Boys.”
3 On “Saved By the Bell” he played jock A.C. Slater. In real life he was a wrestler at Chula Vista (California) High School “I think (I was) probably a combination of Slater and (preppy golden boy) Zack,” he says. “I was a jock but at the same time I used my mouth to get out of a lot of things.”
4 He’s no altar boy. Lopez, who is Roman Catholic, did not ever serve at Mass as some Catholic children do. But he still goes to church on Sundays and did have “a priest come bless the stage” when he competed on the third season of “Dancing With the Stars.”
5 He lost his virginity the day before his 13th birthday. In his 2014 memoir, “Just Between Us,” he talks about how sex was once his “drug of choice.” In the ’hood, he explained, everybody grows up fast.
6 He once ran in his underwear for charity. He is honored often for his charity and community work on behalf of causes that include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“As you’re striving to better yourself you should never forget about your community and your people,” he tells us.
7 He loves to cook and has written two healthy-eating cookbooks. “Extra Lean: The Fat-Burning Plan That Changes the Way You Eat for Life” made the New York Times best-seller list. And, says Mario, he makes a great enchilada.
8 A witch doctor once saved his life. Here’s the story that he shared on Queen Latifah’s daytime talk show last year. When Mario was a baby he contracted some mysterious illness that made him deathly ill.
So his dad scooped him up from the hospital in California and took him to a “bruja,” a witch doctor, in Mexico. “And with a pluck of this and that, she squared me all the way,” he said.
9 He has his own line of underwear, MaLo, and in 2012 he had his body painted gold, head-to-toe, to model it. Inspired by Michelangelo’s “David” he flexed his toned body and posed in his boxer briefs with a javelin and shot put. His Twitter followers swooned.
10 His celebrity crush? We weren’t sure what he would say when we asked. But his answer came quickly: “Betty White.”
Mario Lopez hosts the Fashion for a Cause annual fundraiser benefiting Truman Medical Centers at 8 p.m. Friday at the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center, 301 W. 13th. Cost to attend: $150-$5,000. Lopez will be at a party for VIPs at 6 p.m. For more information, go to TMCgiving.org or call 816-404-3430.