A dancer since he was a tot, Lopez is spotted by a talent agent and cast in Norman Lear's short-lived sitcom a.k.a. Pablo. The young actor eventually joins the cast of the Disney variety show Kids Incorporated, along with future stars Fergie and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Lopez joins the gang from Bayside High on NBC's Saturday-morning sitcom Saved by the Bell. As high school jock A.C. Slater, Lopez wins a teen following and a loyal audience. But, at the height of his TV fame in 1993, he is accused by two women of sexual assault. Although the charges are never filed due to a lack of evidence, Lopez later tells PEOPLE, "It was hurtful."
After returning to Saved by the Bell in a few reunion TV movies through the years, Lopez co-hosts NBC's The Other Half. A male counterpoint to The View, the daytime talk show features Lopez alongside Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce and Dorian Gregory. "I've always said I want to be the Bo Jackson of entertainment," Lopez says. "I want to do it all."
After meeting at the 1998 Miss Teen U.S.A. pageant, Lopez, 29, and Landry, 30, tie the knot at an exclusive resort outside Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Although Lopez told PEOPLE he knew he was going to marry Landry the moment he saw her, they split less than two weeks after their nuptials – and their union is annulled six weeks after the wedding. Lopez reportedly cheated on Landry over the years, but "that definitely was not the case," Lopez later tells PEOPLE.
Dubbed "Super Mario" for his hip-swiveling moves, Lopez spices up ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Partnered with pro Karina Smirnoff, Lopez is "very sexy, very spicy," says show judge Carrie Ann Inaba. "He's really tapped into his athleticism and sensuality." Making it all the way to the finals, Lopez is runner-up to title winner, former NFL great Emmitt Smith and partner Cheryl Burke.
Lopez appears on FX's racy plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck, where his steamy au naturel shower scene makes fans swoon. Lopez tells PEOPLE that he finds all the buzz about his physique "kind of embarrassing."
Playing coy about a rumored romance, Lopez and DWTS partner Karina Smirnoff vacation together in Mexico after celebrating Thanksgiving with Lopez's sister in Houston. "It's very flattering when people want to see us together and like to see us be together," Lopez tells PEOPLE. By May, the pair move in together.
Lopez, who makes his mark as the host of MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, makes his Broadway debut in the revival of the musical A Chorus Line. "I haven't been in a play since the sixth grade and ... I was a tree in the corner! So this is a big jump," Lopez, who plays show director Zach, tells PEOPLE.
After splitting with Smirnoff, Lopez, 34, is named PEOPLE's Hottest Bachelor, where he re-creates the sexiest poses in history! Around that time, with MTV star Audrina Patridge, Lopez also lands on the cover TV Guide's "Hot Bods" issue. The following month, Lopez becomes the anchor on Extra.
Lopez steps out with A Chorus Line costar Courtney Laine Mazza to celebrate the New Year at New York City hotspot Marquee. In March 2010, the couple announces they're expecting their first child. "I can't wait to be a dad," he tells PEOPLE. "I'm fired up!"
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Courtesy of Mario Lopez; Everett Collection; Kathy Hutchins/Hutchins Photo; Albert L. Ortega/WireImage; Adam Larkey/ABC; Bauer Griffin; Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic; Phamous Fotos/Splash News Online; Charles Eshelman/Getty