Cohen, 51, took to social media on Friday, January 24, to share his personal thoughts on Gunvalson’s departure just a few hours after she shared the news.
“I remember the first reunion I did with Vicki Gunvalson. Occasionally our eyes would meet as I grilled the other women, and she would wink at me optimistically and effervescently as both of her deep dimples shone,” the Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen host captioned a photo of himself and Gunvalson hugging, along with a solo shot of the reality TV star. “She kept winking at me Year after year, and it always made my heart smile. Vicki is an original, who remained her authentic self from her Family Van-freakout through her last reunion.”
He continued, “It’s so hard to remain exactly who you are after being on television for so long, but Vicki is one of a kind. Thank you for everything, @vickigunvalson – what a ride. And it’s not over. (This pic is actually from the Season 3 Reunion, and I always really liked it..) ❤️ 🍊 #RHOC.”
Gunvalson, 57, shocked fans when she announced on Friday that she would not be returning for season 15 of The Real Housewives of Orange County. The Coto Insurance founder told Us Weekly exclusively that she chose to leave the show because she and Bravo are “unequally aligned.”
“I will always be the OG of the OC, but it’s time to say goodbye to The Real Housewives of Orange County,” the reality star wrote via Instagram. “It’s been an incredible ride for 14 years and I want thank all of you for your support, for your love and for ‘whooping it up’ with me along the way.”
Undeterred by her exit from the show, Gunvalson went on to highlight her many upcoming ventures. “I’ve been working on new projects that will be exciting, empowering and inspirational,” she explained. “My podcast with Westwood One will be launching soon and I will have much more to say about this on ‘Whoop it up with Vicki’ . I hope you will join me with my new journey so please stay tuned.”
She concluded: “I love all my fans, and I want to thank Bravo and Evolution for this incredible experience which my family and I have will never forget.”
An insider told Us exclusively that Gunvalson was not asked to return to the hit Bravo series. “She made it very clear that she wouldn’t come back as a friend so they wouldn’t try to offer her that again,” the source revealed.
Gunvalson was cast as a full-time Housewife when she joined The Real Housewives of Orange Country during season 1 in March 2006. She was demoted to a “friend” role for season 14 in 2019.