Although he is best-known as Chabelo; a grown man portraying a mischievous, over-sized child--the 50-year career of actor Javier Lopez proves he is more than a one-trick pony. Born in LeÃn, Guanajuato on 17 February 1935, Lopez moved to Mexico City with his parents in the mid-1940s. Around 1950, he went to work in the nascent Mexican television industry, assisting Arturo Manrique, a popular radio and TV star on the show; El yate de la tortuga. A short time later, Lopez was recruited to appear on another program, hosted by Ramiro Gamboa. It was here the character of Chabelo first appeared.
At first, a pair of short pants and the actor's falsetto voice sufficed, but in a short time Chabelo became a more elaborate character with a variety of costumes and props, and his own distinctive personality. Although he matured and continually refined the role, Lopez continued to speak in his Chabelo voice and wear short pants in his public appearances for more than 50 years. During that time, he has been a figure beloved by several generations of children thanks to his family-oriented TV shows.
Children played by adult performers are not a rare phenomenon, and have been around for many years. Among such characters familiar to U.S. audiences are Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks, Red Skelton's Mean Widdle Kid,& and Joe Besser's Stinky. Following in Chabelo's footsteps in Mexico in the 1970s was the prolific Roberto Gomez BolaÃ¡os Chespirito& as El Chavo del Ocho, the lead character on a highly popular TV show featuring a cast of adults essaying child roles. While all of these characters were well-known, none were as closely identified with their creators as Xavier Lopez and Chabelo, Chabelo has even become a part of the actor's public name.
At the same time his TV career was taking off in the early 1950s, Lopez was preparing for a career in medicine, but the stress of studying and working full-time eventually took its toll on his health, and he opted for the life of a performer over that of a doctor. He was also a championship Greco-Roman style wrestler who qualified for the 1952 Olympics but could not afford to attend. Chabelo and Ramiro Gamboa were a popular team for most of the Fifties, but eventually went their separate ways (they can be seen together in Chabelo's first movie, Viaje a la luna [Trip to the Moon], an all-star comedy produced in 1957).
As a solo act, Lopez found lasting fame on television, hosting the childrens' program En familia con Chabelo for nearly 40 years; he also acted in, wrote, and produced other shows, and even worked on the radio. While often identified with the juvenile character of Chabelo, Lopez has appeared in adult roles as well, especially on the stage. His filmography includes more than two dozen titles, most recently Club eutanasia [Euthanasia Club, 2004]--about half of these movies feature Lopez as Chabelo (or a similar, overgrown, obnoxious child), but the rest display the actor's ability to portray diverse adult roles. Three of Lopez's most notable movies teamed him with (real) child actor Martin Ramos: Pepito y la lÃ¡mpara maravillosa
[Pepito and the Marvelous Lamp, 1971], Chabelo y Pepito contra los monstruos
[Chabelo and Pepito vs. the Monsters, 1973], and Chabelo y Pepito detectives
[Chabelo and Pepito Detectives, 1973]. In the first picture, Lopez is a genie released from the titular lamp who aids young Ramos. The two Chabelo and Pepito movies cast the duo as cousins who confront a houseful of monsters and alien invaders, respectively.