Mark Consuelos didn't think he had a shot with Kelly Ripa the first time they met. The actor, then 23, was auditioning for a part on the ABC soap All My Children and Ripa, an established cast member, was assigned as his screen test partner.
"I thought she was adorable, hot, and sexy and all that stuff," Consuelos in 2014."But I was very focused — I didn't really think I had a chance with her, so I wasn't really focused on that."
He got the part, and he and Ripa became fast friends playing love interests Hayley and Mateo. Soon, they were dating in real life too, a secret they kept from their colleagues. Ripa liked the way she felt safe around him. "I was drawn to Mark because he was positively an alpha male, and I didn't think I would be drawn to that. But I just worship him," the Live! host in 2013.
Just months later, the couple went for a walk in the park followed by pizza and wine at Mark's apartment and he proposed marriage. "I said, 'Ask me when you're serious.' And he said, 'I am serious. Let's go to Vegas tomorrow and get married'," Ripa with her morning show audience.
They eloped to Las Vegas on May 1, 1996. Ripa wore a $199 dress she'd purchased on clearance for the occasion. "I didn't buy it as a wedding dress. I just bought it because it was really pretty, and I wanted to buy something from the Barney's Warehouse sale," she told .
They continued filming the soap opera together for six years—their characters married each other too—before Ripa left to replace Kathie Lee Gifford as co-host on Live! with Regis and Kelly. In the meantime, they had son Michael Joseph in1997 and daughter Lola Grace in 2001. Their youngest son, Joaquin Antonio, was born in 2003.
Though Ripa's career has made her a household name,there's no competition between the two. "I actually call him Desi, because the thing about Desi was that as much attention as Lucy got, Desi was always in charge," Ripa told Elle.
Consuelos, who describes their bond as "super-partners in crime," conceded: "If I were back in the 1950s, I'd be perfectly happy." They're such good partners, in fact, they launched their own production company named Milojo — a combination of their kids' name — in 2007. Among other projects, their 2008 documentary The Streak, about a high-school wrestling team's 34-year winning streak, was nominated for an Emmy.
The couple is celebrating 22 years of marriage this year, which has everyone asking, how do two people with such demanding careers make it work? His role in the Fox series Pitch requires him to be in Los Angeles for filming, while Ripa's job keeps her in New York—but the distance only seems to fan the flames of their love.
"We really dig each other," Consuelos on Watch What Happens Live. Common interests, like talking sports and politics (and in the pool), keep their bond strong. Another thing they have in common? Both say they feel sexiest when "tan," they told . So there you have it, folks, the keys to a happy marriage: talk often, have fun, and vacation somewhere warm.
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