Arguably the preeminent Hispanic comedian of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and one of the most influential Latino entertainers of all time, George Lopez broke new ground for Mexican-Americans by scoring many firsts. Most significantly, he clocked in as the first Hispanic comic since Freddie Prinze Sr. (whom he idolized) to headline his own blockbuster sitcom, thus providing Latinos with a much-needed television voice and role model to boot.
Born in 1961 in Mission Hills, CA, Lopez was abandoned by his father at two months old; not long after his tenth birthday, his mother delivered him permanently into the hands of his working-class grandparents, a couple singularly lacking in parental skills, affection, and financial resources. Ingeniously, Lopez took the angst, desperation, impoverishment, and overwhelming dysfunction of these preadolescent and adolescent years and spun it into behind-the-mike fodder -- in other words, using his hard-hitting experiences as building blocks for exceptionally droll, inventive standup routines. Lopez foresaw standup comedy as his only desired option after high school, and thus reportedly worked the club circuit for almost two decades -- his exclusive gig until the late '80s and early '90s.