From humble New Jersey roots to national celebrity Kelly Ripa became the reigning day time diva when she won the coveted co-host seat on ABC’s popular morning show “Live! With Regis and Kelly.”
Ripa made her television debut on the popular 1980s “Dance Party USA” donning gold sequins, big hair, and over done makeup. Ripa was on her way up and it wouldn’t be long until she made her mark in the world of entertainment, as the mischievous Hayley Vaughn on ABC’s popular soap opera “All My Children.”
Some critics may consider soaps the bottom of the barrel when it comes to talent, but Ripa didn’t let that rain on her parade. She comically reflected on the perks of her job saying “I get paid to make out with the hunks!” to askmen.com.
“All My Children” did more for Ripa than jump start her career, it introduced her to her real life hunk, co-star Mark Consuelos. In true soap opera style the two eloped for a quick Vegas wedding in 1996. Ripa said “I had already been married five times on the show. The last thing I wanted was a big wedding” to tv.com.
After the wedding Ripa was on the coat tails of motherhood, a year later having her first son, Michael. But Ripa didn’t let parenthood slow her down; in fact she became a first class juggler managing marriage, motherhood, and a career that was about to catapult her into a bona fide celebrity.
In 2001 Ripa was offered the co-host seat on “Live!” and began working side by side with Regis Philbin. Pregnant again, with daughter, Lola, and still working on “All My Children,” Ripa was able to win over the American audience with her quick wit and comic narrative to Philbin’s often over-dramatic life.
Ratings on the long time show soared, and so did the adoration for Philbin’s new side kick, who he had affectionately nicknamed “Pipa.” Ripa was named one of People Magazine’s “25 Most Intriguing People of 2001,” and was awarded #19 on E!’s “Top 25 Blondes” although Ripa was the first to admit that her golden locks were courtesy of the Oscar Blondie Salon.
Aside from being rewarded for her good looks, Ripa had received plenty of acclaim from the acting community. She was nominated for five Daytime Emmys and in 1999 she won Best Actress Award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
After getting settled into “Live!” Ripa made her return to television, trying her talents in prime time comedy. “Hope and Faith” stared Ripa, playing Faith Fairfield, a sexy ex soap star who is living with her sister’s family, and causing trouble for the entire cast.
But Ripa’s real life family actually comes from the Garden State. Ripa grew up in Berlin, New Jersey where she “had a picture-perfect childhood. My parents were like June and Ward Cleaver; there was nothing dysfunctional about them” said Ripa. Ripa must of learned the secret to successful parenthood, especially since her and Consuelos added another member to the family, their youngest son Joaquin.
Ripa began the path to performing her senior year in high school, when she preformed in “The Ugly Duckling,” ironic for a woman who later would be voted #81 on “FHM’s Annual List of 100 Sexiest Women” in 2006. Ripa enrolled in Camden Community College, where she continued to participate in theater until she won her role on “All My Children.”
Ripa often joked, about how working for ABC meant always having more than one job, and sometimes that included charity work. In 2005, ABC launched a campaign called “Celebrate Mickey: 75 inspEARations.” Several celebrities were asked to design a statue of Disney’s beloved, trademark mouse including Ripa, who designed “Big City Mouse” for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, one of Ripa’s favorite charities.
Comical, vivacious, and inspiring Ripa’s smile was contagious and she was welcomed into American homes at any time of the day for a much needed laugh.