1970s

Little Lessons

"I grew up in a family with a strong work ethic," New Jersey-bred Ripa tells Parade in 2002. "My father, a bus driver, never turned down overtime, because he wanted us to have great things in life." During grade school, the other kids taunt Ripa by chanting, "smelly Kelly eats peanut butter and jelly and has a fat belly." However Ripa tells the New York Times in 2001 that the teasing "prepared me for network TV, because after coming home from school every day crying over something some kid said, there's no producer or tabloid or network – nothing anybody can say or print – that's really going to get to me."

late 1980s

Kelly Ripa

Perky Beginnings

Ripa becomes a cheerleader in high school but says that didn't make her one of the cool kids. "Everyone says, 'You must have been popular.' But in my high school, you could be made fun of for cheering," she tells Allure in 2004. Ripa also makes regular appearances as a dancer on the USA Network's Dance Party USA and lands the lead in her school play, The Ugly Duckling, which inspires her to pursue acting. "There was nothing else I was very good at," Ripa tells Parade in 2002.

1989

Kelly Ripa

Heading to Pine Valley

Ripa attends Camden County College and performs in several local theatre productions. "My parents were adamant about college, so I took a few courses and then would audition for everything," Ripa tells the Los Angeles Times in 2001. "I took things like psychology, things I couldn't get motivated to do...My father is still waiting for me to go to college." After about two weeks, she drops out and moves to New York, where she lands the role of Hayley Vaughan (left), a troubled party girl, on the ABC soap All My Children.

1995

Kelly Ripa

Meeting Mark

On the All My Children set, Ripa meets Mark Consuelos – newly hired to play her onscreen lover Mateo Santos (right). "When I met Mark, I was just sort of thunderstruck," she tells Redbook in 2007. "The next day I went up to him and, although I didn't even know his name, I said: 'I had a dream about you last night. We were married and had a little girl and were on a plane to Rome.'" Consuelos adds: "That was about as forthcoming as she was – and then she played hard to get." That summer, they begin dating in real-life.

1996

Kelly Ripa

May 01

What Happens in Vegas...

After secretly dating for a year, Ripa and Consuelos elope in Las Vegas. "It just happened. The next thing you know, we're married, and then four months later we were pregnant," Consuelos tells Redbook. "It was a crazy way to get into a relationship." Ripa declares, "I've had a crush on my husband since the day I met him, and I'm so pleased that I still do all these years later." In June 1997, the newlyweds welcome their first son, Michael.

2000

Kelly Ripa

November

A Revealing Audition

After cohost Kathie Lee Gifford leaves Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Ripa appears on the morning talk show for her first guest-host audition. One of that day's guests, psychic Char Margolis, tells the world a secret that Ripa had been keeping under wraps: She's pregnant with her second child. A stammering, blushing Ripa replies: "Well, I haven't told my boss yet!" In June 2001, she gives birth to Lola Grace.

2001

Kelly Ripa

February 12

Live with Regis... and Kelly

Ripa edges out Dolly Parton and Valerie Bertinelli when she is named co-host of Live. By November, Live's young-audience demographics increase by 80 percent, with Regis Philbin (left) crediting Ripa for bringing "a new life to the show."

Giving Back

After being named one of PEOPLE's 25 Most Intriguing, Ripa serves as national chair for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) "Tie One On for Safety" campaign. Her involvement is motivated by her sister Linda, who was almost killed by a drunk driver in 1999. "It really taught us what's important," Ripa tells Redbook.

2002

Kelly Ripa

Good Bye, Soap

After three Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Ripa ends her 12-year run on All My Children. Her husband and costar Consuelos voluntarily leaves the show as well. The following February, Ripa and Consuelos welcome their third child, Joaquin, to their brood.

2003

Kelly Ripa

September

Having Faith

Ripa plays an unemployed ex-soap star with Faith Ford (right) in ABC's Hope & Faith. "I was always the victim on AMC: I was shot, stabbed, kidnapped, poisoned, gassed, blown up and raped," Ripa tells the AP. "There were very few laughs for me." H&F's debut gives ABC its best Friday premiere score since 1996, but it loses momentum by its third and last season. "I was so over-extended..." Ripa tells Shape, "I told Mark when the sitcom ended that I never wanted to work that hard again."

Photo Credits

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Globe; Everett Collection; ABC; JPI; Splash News Online; Everett Collection; Globe; ABC

Edited by Julia Wang

Kelly Ripa

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs

 

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