|October 2, 1970|
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Born Oct. 2, 1970 in Stratford, NJ to Joseph and Esther Ripa, the actress was raised in Voorhees, NJ, where she attended Eastern Regional High School. A dancer since the age of three, Ripa took up theater as a teenager, performing in her high school production of "The Ugly Duckling." After graduating in 1989, Ripa attended Camden Community College in Camden, NJ and performed in local theater productions, including "H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Wizard of Oz" and "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Ripa made her first television appearance in 1989 as a dancer on "Dance Party USA" (USA, 1986-1992) and made her acting debut the following year as Hayley Vaughan on the longtime soap "All My Children." Ripa's character quickly caught on with viewers of the show, proving to be a steady gig for the actress. Ripa remained with the series for a 12-year run. The show also played a pivotal role in Ripa's personal life; paired with actor Mark Consuelos on the series in 1995, the onscreen couple fell in love off-screen as well, eloping to Las Vegas, NV in 1996.
Ripa branched out from "Children" to pursue a number of other projects. In 1992, she co-hosted the short-lived syndicated series, "Music Scoupe." She went on to land a number of small film roles as well, appearing as a soap opera star in the film "Marvin's Room" (1996) and starring in the independent film, "The Stand-In" (1999), for which Ripa won the award for Best Actress at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. After serving as guest host of "Live with Regis" (NBC, 1988- ) a total of nine times in 2000, Ripa was asked to step in as co-host of the morning talk show alongside Philbin after the departure of his longtime co-host, Kathy Lee Gifford. Ripa made her debut as the series' co-host on Feb. 12, 2001 and quickly became popular with viewers.
Finishing a 12-year run on "All My Children" in 2002 - along with Consuelos - Ripa continued to act while serving as co-host of "Regis and Kelly." Venturing into primetime television in 2002, Ripa appeared in a recurring role on the NBC drama "Ed" (2000-04) and went on to star alongside Faith Ford in the ABC sitcom, "Hope & Faith" (2003-06) as Faith Fairfield, a soap opera star who moves in with her sister after her character is killed off. Though the series initially returned favorable ratings during its first two seasons, its ranking began to slip and the series was cancelled in 2006.
Ripa continued to excel as host of "Regis and Kelly," however, and the break from acting allowed her to focus more on family life - a family she discussed with such humor and detail that viewers felt they had grown up watching the Consuelos/Ripa children, Michael, Lola and Joaquin. Ripa's ability to relate her home life and role as a mother became one of her major selling points on the morning show, as did her fearlessness at making a fool out of herself, be it dancing or getting a pie in the face. The series went on to earn numerous Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment, and for Ripa herself, nominations with Philbin for Outstanding Host of a Talk Show. In October 2009, Ripa announced on her morning show that she and Consuelos would be returning to "All My Children" after eight years in celebration of the program's 40th anniversary in January 2010.