Louis Szekely was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Mary and Luis Szekely, an economist. His mother is of Irish Catholic descent and his father, a native of Mexico, is of Mexican Catholic and Hungarian Jewish ancestry. After spending seven years in Mexico City, Szekely's family moved to Massachusetts—first Framingham and then Newton. His family pronounces their surname, Hungarian-origin Szekely, roughly as [se'-kei], and in his grade-school years he resorted to "C.K." as an easy way to get his name pronounced almost correctly as [si' key].