‘Golden Girls’: What Character Did Mario Lopez Play?

by Matthew Memrick

TV host and actor Mario Lopez shares a special connection to the “Golden Girls as he played a student of Dorothy’s in one topical show.

According to Looper, Lopez co-starred in Season 2, Episode 21, titled “Dorothy’s Prized Pupil.” 

The 48-year-old star played one of Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur)’s students named Mario Sanchez. After he writes a prize-winning essay on being American, the girls find out from the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services that Sanchez is in the country illegally. 

Lopez Remembered 32-Year-Old Episode

The star talked about the role in a 2019 Today Show interview. He said he was 13 years old at the time.

He recalled the show as a “very topical episode.” 

Lopez said he was ” a smart kid, and Dorothy (Bea Arthur) took me under her wing and was tutoring me but apparently, I was here illegally, and I had to go.” 

As a kid, San Diego-born Lopez said he didn’t understand how strong the storyline was and the topic until years later. Lopez’s family roots come from Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Betty White’s Death Has Many Remember ‘Golden Girls’

The recent death of star Betty White has put “The Golden Girls” back in the nation’s consciousness, but it’s really never gone away.

While the NBC show about four older women living together in Miami ran for seven seasons (1985-1992), the show had its fair share of celebrity appearances. 

The “Golden Girls” show has lived for years in syndication on CMT and The Hallmark Channel. There were also three spin-off shows. The Golden Place lasted one season in 1992 while Empty Nest starred Richard Mulligan. Mulligan’s show went from 1988 to 1995.

The series was about four older women (Arthur, White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty) with very distinct and hilarious personalities. 

George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Burt Reynolds, Alex Trebek, Bob Hope, and Jerry Orbach are just a few big names that appeared on the show.

Those characters were a big part of the “Golden Girls” show’s serious storylines, like when Lopez starred. 

“The Golden Girls” were not afraid to take on topics like aging, grief, and loss. They waded into significant political and social issues while tackling women’s challenges as they grew older.  

Arthur, Lopez In Another Show

According to IMDb, the “Golden Girls” show was not the first time Arthur and Lopez played together.

Lopez starred in “a.k.a. Pablo,” which lasted for six episodes on ABC in 1984. The two were in a March 13, 1984 episode years before they worked together on “The Golden Girls.”

Lopez played Tomas Del Gato, and Arthur took on the role of a xenophobic press agent in the “My Son, The Gringo” episode. Arthur’s imperious press agent character tries to Americanize Paul Rivera’s image (Paul Rodriguez) while his nephew, Tomas (Lopez), flunks Spanish.

At the same time, Lopez was working on the Disney Kids show “Kids Incorporated.” Other notable actors were show star and comedian Rodriguez and Hector Elizondo.