Welcome back, Little Miss Sunshine! Kelly Ripa returned to Live With Kelly and Michael on Tuesday, April 26, a week after Michael Strahan announced he's leaving Live With Kelly and Michael for a full-time gig on Good Morning America — and caused a firestorm at the show. Ripa took a sick day on Wednesday, April 20, a day after Strahan shocked and "blindsided" his work wife with the announcement. (As Us Weekly revealed, she had already planned to take Friday and Monday off for her 20th anniversary vacation with her husband, Mark Consuelos.) Tuesday marked her official return to the show after a contentious seven days.
Here, Us Weekly features the highlights from Ripa's much-anticipated return, including her no-holds-barred opening monologue.
9:00 AM ET: Ripa Delivers Her Opening Monologue, Says It Was About Respect
Ripa, wearing a red jumpsuit, and Strahan, in his customary suit, walked out together holding hands and bopping along to DNCE as the crowd went wild. Ripa stood solo on stage and reveled in the moment while the audience cheered and gave her a standing ovation.
"Guys, guys, guys. Guys, guys, guys, our long national nightmare is over," she joked with her guests. "Please, be seated. Look, I am not — I'm going to be completely honest. I'm fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message. OK. I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to the show. The show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I really — I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts after 26 years with this company, I earned the right, and let's be honest — I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other."
She then launched into a monologue about her time away from work. "I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart. I didn't want to come out here and just, like, say something I might regret," she told viewers. "So what transpired though over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace. And since we're being honest, I don't consider this just a workplace. This is my second home. This is a place that I've devoted myself to not just because of you, our loyal viewers, but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team."
Ripa revealed that all parties have since made amends. "We are incredibly devoted to one another. We are family," she continued. "Apologies have been made, and the best thing to come out of all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that Live is a priority."
The crowd roared in response. "Guys, calm down. They didn't say anything about Christmas bonuses," she cracked. "But there is a commitment to this show and the people that work here and most importantly to you, the viewers, who have watched us every day for 30 years. I am thrilled for Michael. I'm thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I couldn't be and we couldn't be prouder of you. And everything we accomplished together. So back to the show, this is entertainment. It's supposed to be entertaining. So let's get back to what we do best and start the show. Oh, wait. Incidentally, I just want to say one thing. My dad who was a bus driver for 30 years thinks we're all crazy. And I think he's right."
9:05 AM ET: Strahan Calls Ripa the 'Queen of Morning Television'
Strahan then jumped into the conversation. "I'm so happy you're back. And one thing I know about you is you love the show. You love the fans. You love this staff. I love you. And I'm so happy you're here because you brought me here with [Michael] Gelman and this show has — it's been transforming for me. And I know the show lives on," he said to his cohost. "And I know the show lives on because you are the queen of morning television. And it will continue to go."
Interjecting, Ripa joked, “How dare you? How dare you?”
"You need me, I'm coming back. And this is entertainment,” Strahan replied. "So with that being said, let's go on with the show, everybody."
Ripa jumped in and joked, "Oprah's the real queen. How dare you?"
9:07 AM ET: Ripa Talks About Her 20th Anniversary Trip
Ripa addressed a happier milestone from last week: her 20th anniversary trip with her husband, which was pre-planned. "So this is the strange timing about all of this. Like, I took a day to sort of process, but we had a trip planned. People think we're making all of that up. We had a trip planned for a long time," Ripa told the crowd. "My husband and I to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary." (Us Weekly broke the news of the couple's getaway.)
Without divulging too many details, Ripa shared a little bit about their romantic trip. "It was really nice. It was a beautiful trip. And we had friends with us who were also celebrating their one-year anniversary. And so it's nice," she said. "I said to them, 'Hey, you guys are going to blink and it's going to be 20 years. I mean, it goes so fast.'"
The star also shared a photo of her wedding dress. "And the story behind the dress is I bought it at the Barneys Warehouse sale. And the dress is actually 25 years old. My marriage is 20 years old. I spent … I didn't buy it as a wedding dress," she recalled of the item. "I just bought it because it was really pretty and I wanted to buy something from the Barneys Warehouse sale. I was working on the soap. I didn't make a lot of money. And it was $199 on final cleaners — clearance sale. It was like, do I eat this week?"
9:15 AM ET: Ripa Remembers Prince
"While I was away, Prince passed away," Ripa noted her audience. Prince died at age 57 on April 21. "That was really devastating, sad, sad news. I've been a Prince fan, I'm sure like most people in this audience as long as I can remember. I remember my very first concert going with my girlfriends who, we may or may not have had a driver's license, and we may or may not have borrowed one of our parents’ cars, and we bought scalps at the Philadelphia spectrum … We could barely see him, but it was the most exciting thing we had ever done and it was such a — there's no — there was no performer as good as Prince. It's a real loss.
Added Strahan: "You remember the Super Bowl [in 2007 in Sun Life Stadium in Miami] when he performed? "It started raining while he was singing 'Purple Rain.' And I swear, he didn't even get wet. Everybody else is soaked and people out there — and, like, nothing. He didn't get wet. But that was fitting. Yeah, that was a very sad loss to lose Prince, one of a kind, by far."
9:57 AM ET: She'll Be Back Tomorrow
After an eventful show that included Jaime Alexander and Bellamy Young as guests, the show's hosts stood together and promised their audience they would be back the following morning.
Live airs on ABC at 9 a.m. Check your local listings. Watch the video above to see Ripa's monologue again.
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