Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos' All My Children Throwback Photos
The couple met on the set of the soap, which premiered 50 years ago
Wearing no makeup and plenty of hair rollers, Ripa was not at her soap-star best when a "gorgeous" stranger walked onto the All My Children set in 1995, she told PEOPLE in 1999. "I looked really gross," said Ripa, who retreated to primp and then dashed back. "I wanted him to see me looking like a normal person!"
Consuelos was unfazed. He was back the next day to screen-test for the role of Mateo Santos, the only son of a Mexican-American clan in Pine Valley, the show's fictional hotbed of scandal, infidelity and lust.
"She was cute," Consuelos told PEOPLE of the eight-year AMC veteran, who earned three Daytime Emmy nominations for her role as Hayley Vaughan Santos, the rebellious daughter of tycoon Adam Chandler. "But I wasn't thinking about getting lucky," he continued. "I was worried about getting the job."
He got lucky on both counts. Soon after meeting — and even before Consuelos's Mateo began dating Ripa's Hayley — the actors jettisoned their existing relationships and began a real-life romance. According to castmates, their love affair never interfered with the show.
"They both work hard and have lots of talent," said James Kiberd (who played Hayley's uncle Trevor Dillon), adding that they had "real love, passion and caring." Said Ripa: "A lot of couples in this business are egomaniacs. But with Mark, we're constantly building each other up."
Not that the cast knew what was going on at first. For months the effervescent Ripa and the more reserved Consuelos hid things because "people tend to think there'll be problems when you're dating your costar," said Consuelos. They even tried to keep their 1996 elopement secret. (Consuelos's proposal: "Since we don't have to work tomorrow, why don't we fly to Vegas and get married?") But the jig was soon up for the couple, who went on to win Soap Opera Digest's Hottest Romance Award in 1998. "Someone recognized us in Vegas," said Ripa, "and called the show."
A few months later, Ripa announced she was pregnant. Since Hayley wasn't going to have a baby, the show went to ridiculous lengths to hide the 60 lbs. Ripa eventually gained. "Initially, I would carry luggage with me everywhere," said Ripa. "Then I started to carry guitar cases. Then I carried trees. Trees!"
After a traumatic first wedding, bad-girl-gone-good Hayley formally wed Mateo in 2000. "I think [Kelly] might get a little nostalgic or maybe regret the fact that she didn't get to have that big wedding," Consuelos said. "But I quickly point out to her that we had a number of weddings."
Ripa and Consuelos quickly grew adept at juggling their work and parenthood — they brought Michael and a nanny to the set with them for the first year. But shortly after their second child, daughter Lola, was born, the two exited the show in 2002.
Speaking to PEOPLE in 2020 about her role, Ripa said, "It was really — I mean, talk about happy accidents. It really was a happy accident. It changed my life. It changed my entire life — not just my acting life, but changed the whole trajectory of my life."
In 2020 the stars gave fans some exciting news: they're executive producing a new ABC AMC spin-off series, Pine Valley.
Named after the fictional Philadelphia town where the ABC series originally took place, Pine Valley will follow the story of "a young journalist with a secret agenda" who plans to bring the dark history of the town to light, "only to become entangled in a feud between the Kane and Santos families," per Variety.
Reflecting on their meet-cute, Consuelos told HuffPost Live in 2014 he was focused on work, having just graduated college. “I thought she was adorable, hot and sexy and all that stuff, but I was very focused,’ he said. “I didn’t really think I had a chance with her, so I wasn’t really focused on that.”
Back in 2018, Ripa said that she knew Consuelos was “the one” the second she saw a photo of him. “They had been looking for this character for some time. They were looking really for a Latino actor … and so I had auditioned every Latino actor in the city and around the city and then California,” Ripa told Bruce Bozzi on his SiriusXM radio show. “And then all of a sudden, Judy Blye Wilson, who was the casting director at All My Children, said, ‘I found him.’ "
“I was not a hopeless romantic. I never thought about getting married, it never occurred to me that I would grow old with someone," Ripa continued to Bozzi. "I just thought I would be living my single girl life in the city and sort of like moving. … I had no responsibilities and I was earning a good living on this soap opera … [But] when I saw him, the photograph of him, I saw my entire future with him flash before — like I saw it. And I [didn’t] believe in any of that and now I do because of that moment.”