TV talk-show host, actress, producer
Born: October 2, 1970, in Stratford, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2016: Performing Arts
Kelly Ripa is a natural. Armed with a vibrant personality, a deep well of energy and a gift for gab, it was only natural that the South Jersey native would rise to the crest of the TV talk-show world.
Ripa was born in the little Camden County borough of Stratford. Her mother was a homemaker; her father was a bus driver and labor-union leader. Ripa attended Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, where she studied drama and joined the cheerleading squad. While still in high school, she starred in local theater productions.
After high school, Ripa briefly attended Camden County College, but left for New York City to pursue an acting career. She had previously gotten her first national exposure as a house dancer on the TV party show “Dancin’ On Air” and its successor, “Dance Party USA,” which was shot in Camden.
In 1990, Ripa landed her first major acting role as Hayley Vaughan in “All My Children.” That began a 12-year run on the soap opera, during which Ripa was thrice nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award.
Ripa made her film debut in the 1996 drama “Marvin’s Room,” in a cast that included Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro. She appeared as herself in the 1999 comedy “The Stand-In” and co-starred in the 2001 TV movie “Someone to Love.”
It was also in 2001 that Regis Philbin picked Ripa to join him on his popular daytime talk show, following the departure of his longtime co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford. Ripa was among numerous candidates who tried out as guest hosts. Her quick wit and what Philbin called a “fun-loving kind of sparkle” got her the permanent job.
The chemistry between Philbin and Ripa earned “Live! With Regis and Kelly” a large and loyal audience during their 10-year run together. Upon Philbin’s retirement in November 2011, Ripa became the sole host of “Live!” for close to a year, before being joined by new co-host Michael Strahan. In 2017, Ryan Seacrest succeeded Strahan as Ripa’s TV partner. The syndicated “Live with Kelly and Ryan” remains a staple of daytime TV. Over the years, Ripa has won four Daytime Emmy Awards as co-host (twice each with Philbin and Strahan).
The hard-working Ripa also co-starred from 2003-2006 on ABC’s half-hour TV sitcom “Hope & Faith,” ironically portraying an unemployed ex-soap star. Since 2007, Ripa has partnered in a film and TV production company with her husband, actor Mark Consuelos. (The two met in 1995 while cast together in “All My Children.”)
Ripa is also active in charitable work and the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving. When she turned 50 in October 2020, she told AARP’s The Girlfriend magazine: “I want to give back to other people. I’ve been so fortunate in my life, that I want to spend the next decade figuring out how I can help others.”