C.K. was born on September 12, 1967, in Washington, D.C., the son of Mary Louise Székely (née Davis), asoftware engineer, and Luis Székely, an economist. C.K.’s parents met at Harvard University, where his mother was completing her degree in a summer-school program. They were married at St. Francis Church in Traverse City,Michigan. C.K. has three sisters.
When C.K. was a year old, his family moved to his father’s home country of Mexico, from where his father had earned a degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico prior to graduating from Harvard. C.K.’s first language was Spanish; it was not until after the move to the U.S. that he began to learn English. He has since mostly forgotten his Spanish. C.K.’s paternal grandfather, Dr. Géza Székely Schweiger, was a surgeon. Székely Schweiger was aHungarian Jew whose family immigrated to Mexico, where he met C.K.’s paternal grandmother, Rosario Sánchez Morales. Sánchez Morales was a CatholicMexican. C.K.’s grandfather agreed to have his children raised Catholic, but was (according to C.K.) “quietly Jewish”.
C.K.’s mother, an American with Irish ancestry, grew up on a farm in Michigan. She graduated from Owosso High School in Owosso, Michigan. She attendedUniversity of Michigan and graduated from Ohio State University Phi Beta Kappa. C.K.’s maternal grandparents were M. Louise Davis and Alfred C. Davis.
At age seven, C.K. left Mexico with his family to move back to the United States and settle in Boston. Upon moving from Mexico to suburban Boston, C.K. wanted to become a writer and comedian, citing Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and George Carlin as some of his influences. When he was 10, his parents divorced. C.K. said that his father was around but he did not see him much and when he remarried, C.K.’s father converted to Orthodox Judaism, the faith of his new wife. C.K. and his three sisters were raised by their single mother in Newton, Massachusetts. The fact that his mother had only “bad” TV shows to view upon returning home from work inspired him to work on television. C.K.’s mother raised her children as Catholic, wanting them to have a religious framework and understanding, and they attended after-school Catholic class until they completed communion. C.K. has said that his father’s whole family still lives in Mexico. C.K.’s paternal uncle Dr. Francisco Székely is an academic and an international consultant on environmental affairs who served as Mexico’s Deputy Minister of Environment (2000–2003).
C.K. attended Newton North High School, and graduated in 1985. He graduated with future Friends star, Matt LeBlanc whom he would later be nominated with in the same category at the Primetime Emmy Awards multiple times. After graduating from Newton North High School, C.K. worked as an auto mechanic and at a public access TV cable station in Boston. According to C.K., working in public access TV gave him the tools and technical knowledge to make his short films and later his television shows. “Learning is my favorite thing”, he said. He also worked for a time as a cook and in a video store.
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