Lake in May 2015
Ricki Pamela Lake
September 21, 1968
|Education||Ithaca College (attended)|
|Known for||Tracy Turnblad – Hairspray|
(m. 1994; div. 2004)
(m. 2012; div. 2015)
Ricki Pamela Lake (born September 21, 1968) is an American actress, television presenter and producer. She is known for her lead role as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film Hairspray and for which she received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. She is also known for her talk show which was broadcast internationally from September 1993 until May 2004. When Lake's show debuted, she was 24 and credited as being the youngest person to host a syndicated talk show at the time. In autumn 2012, Lake hosted a second syndicated talk show project The Ricki Lake Show (dubbed as The New Ricki Lake Show), which aired on weekdays. The series was canceled in 2013 after a single season, but Lake won her first Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host.
Lake was born in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, to a secular Jewish family. Her parents are Jill (a homemaker) and Barry Lake (a pharmacist), though Lake was largely brought up by her paternal grandmother, Sylvia Lake, until Sylvia's death in 1978.
Lake attended Ithaca College for one year.
Lake made her film debut as Tracy Turnblad, the lead character in John Waters's 1988 cult classic Hairspray. Lake also starred in other Waters films including Cry-Baby (with Johnny Depp and Susan Tyrrell), Cecil B. Demented (with Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff), and Serial Mom (with Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston). She starred in Mrs. Winterbourne with Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser, Cabin Boy, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Cookie, and Inside Monkey Zetterland.
She joined the cast of the Vietnam War drama series China Beach as a Red Cross volunteer, Holly "the Donut Dolly" Pelegrino, for the show's third season. She also had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens as Doug's sister Stephanie. She guest-starred on television series including Drop Dead Diva and a voice role on King of the Hill, and starred in the television movie Baby Cakes. She had a cameo appearance in the 2007 remake of the original cult-classic Hairspray as a William Morris talent agent, and teamed up with star Nikki Blonsky (who played Tracy Turnblad in the 2007 movie musical remake) and Marissa Jaret Winokur (who played Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway musical based on the original 1988 film) to record "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now" for the soundtrack. The song is played during the film's end credits. She later reunited with original Hairspray co-star Deborah Harry for the film Hotel Gramercy Park, which was released in 2008.
Ricki Lake was Lake's first daytime talk show and at 24, she was the youngest person at the time to host one. The show specialized in topics involving invited guests and incorporated questions and comments from a studio audience.
The show debuted in syndication on September 13, 1993, and ended first-run episodes on May 25, 2004. In 2000, Lake told Rosie O'Donnell in an interview that she had signed on for four additional years. Although Sony Pictures Television had many stations contracted through the 2004–2005 season, Lake decided to end the show in August 2004, citing (among other things) a desire to spend time with her family. She moved from Los Angeles to New York to tape the 11th season of the show, then returned to California when taping was complete. Lake returned to the talk show platform when she hosted a revived version of her original talk show which premiered in September 2012 and was cancelled after one season.
2006–2010: Other projects
After her talk show had wrapped production on its final season, Lake went on to host the 2006 CBS limited series Gameshow Marathon, which re-created classic game shows with celebrity contestants. She also signed a development deal with Gameshow Marathon production company FremantleMedia for other ventures, including creating and producing future programs and projects. In October 2007, Lake appeared in the Lifetime TV movie Matters of Life and Dating. Lake also had a cameo in the 2007 film Hairspray as a talent agent and also sang "Mama I'm A Big Girl Now" with Nikki Blonsky and Marissa Jaret Winokur for the film's end credits. The Business of Being Born, Lake's documentary about home birth and midwifery, was released in limited markets on January 18, 2008. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and Red Envelope released the film in New York, L.A. and San Francisco in October; it also screened in Australia.
The Business of Being Born included footage and details of Lake's own "life-changing" home-birthing experience and followed a midwife going about her work. Tribeca called it "The Inconvenient Truth of Childbirth". Lake described it as her life's work for the last three years and expressed hopes that the film educated and empowered people to really know their choices in childbirth. She performed in the CBS television special Loving Leah in January of that year. Lake also jointly wrote a book on the world of natural childbirth and birthing options, along with Abby Epstein and Jacques Moritz, Your Best Birth, which was published by Wellness Central on May 1, 2009. Lake and Epstein also launched MyBestBirth.com, an online social network, powered by Ning, intended to allow parents and medical professionals to dialogue about varying birthing options and resources. Lake returned to television on May 11, 2009, succeeding Sharon Osbourne as host for the third season of VH1's Charm School. On November 10, 2010, Lake joined fellow talkers Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, and Montel Williams as guests of Oprah Winfrey on The Oprah Winfrey Show, marking the first time those hosts appeared together on one show since their respective programs left the air.
In March 2011, reports said that three television studios, Twentieth Television, Universal Media Studios and CBS Television Distribution, were interested in bringing Lake back to the talk-show realm in 2012. This after Lake began appearing on various programs in which she expressed a desire to return to the genre. Lake competed on the 13th season of Dancing with the Stars. She was partnered with three-time champion Derek Hough and cited Kirstie Alley's appearance as an inspiration to do the show. Lake achieved tremendous success, consistently achieving high scores. After making the finals, Lake was announced as the contestant in third place, losing to television personality Rob Kardashian and actor and Army veteran J. R. Martinez, despite having higher scores than either.
On April 20, 2011, Lake signed with Twentieth Television to develop The Ricki Lake Show, which premiered in September 2012. The new program had a more Oprah-like format as compared to her earlier talk show. It was cancelled after one season. Lake won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2013.
On December 7, 2016, Lake made a cameo in the television musical Hairspray Live! On February 11, 2017, Lake appeared as a guest judge on the British talent show Let It Shine with Gary Barlow, Dannii Minogue, and Martin Kemp on the BBC. On February 17, 2018, Lake appeared on the British television show Through the Keyhole hosted by Keith Lemon.
In March 2018, at SXSW, Lake and Epstein premiered their documentary film Weed the People, examining the use of cannabis as medicine and its status as a Schedule I prohibited drug in the United States. The film focused in particular on the use of cannabis in the treatment of pediatric cancer.
On February 6, 2019, she was revealed to be The Raven in the Fox series The Masked Singer. She performed "Rainbow" by Kesha, "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga and "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. In October 2019, she began competing in The X Factor: Celebrity.
On October 28, Ricki made a guest appearance on the ITV Daytime program Loose Women. Ricki was said to be a last minute addition to the panel with one of the original panellist off sick at short notice.
Dancing with the Stars performances
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' scores||Result|
|1||Viennese Waltz/"This Year's Love"||7||6||7||Safe|
|4||Tango/"Theme from Psycho"||10||9||10||Safe|
|6||Quickstep/"Luck Be a Lady"
Group Broadway dance/"Big Spender" & "Money Money"
|7||Paso doble/"Sweet Dreams"
Team paso doble/"Bring Me to Life"
|8||Waltz/"You Make Me Feel"
Instant Jive/"Land of a Thousand Dances"
|Samba/"Jump in the Line"
Cha-cha-cha relay/"I Like How It Feels"
Freestyle/"Can't Touch It"
Tango/Theme from Psycho
Lake is also known for her public struggle with weight. She admitted in 2011 that insecurity caused by abuse during her childhood had caused her to become a heavy eater. By the time of her role in Hairspray, her weight was 260 pounds (117 kg) on a 5'3" (160 cm) frame. In the early 1990s, just before her talk show premiered, Lake went on a diet and lost 100 pounds in just six months. During her pregnancy with her children, she admitted to being a yo-yo dieter but after the birth of her second son, she embarked on a healthier diet and soon lost another 30 pounds which she said got a lot more attention than her initial weight loss of 100 pounds. She has since maintained her weight for almost 20 years.
Lake met illustrator Rob Sussman in October 1993, on Halloween. The couple married in Las Vegas on March 26, 1994. They have two sons: Milo Sebastian Sussman (b. March 22, 1997), and Owen Tyler Sussman (b. June 18, 2001), whose actual water birth was shown in The Business of Being Born, which Lake also produced. The couple filed for divorce in August 2003; it was finalized on February 25, 2005.
Lake began dating jewelry designer Christian Evans in mid-2009. They became engaged in August 2011, and married on April 8, 2012. On October 29, 2014, Lake filed for divorce from Evans, citing "irreconcilable differences". In December 2014, however, they announced they had put their divorce on hold; it was finalized in 2015. Christian Evans died on February 11, 2017.
On January 1, 2020, Lake posted a picture on her social media accounts, in which she revealed that she had been dealing with hair loss that had resulted from years of depression, weight loss, pregnancy and the use of chemicals in her hair dating back to her work in Hairspray (Lake confirmed that it was her actual hair that was used during the filming: "I went from Hairspray to ‘Hairless’"), which caused her to finally cut her receding hair and then reveal her new buzz-cut (she also noted that her first talk show, in which they did outrageous hairstyle episodes, was another factor in her decision). Lake said the struggle had been "debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely”, noting that "there have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing". Lake assured everyone that she had not been diagnosed with other medical conditions related to the hair loss, and wanted to embrace her new look, saying that "I am liberated. I am free. I am releasing and letting go. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am love".
In February of 2021 she announced she was engaged to Ross Burningham.
|The In Crowd||Dancer||Uncredited|
|Last Exit to Brooklyn||Donna|
|Baby Cakes||Grace Hart|
|1992||Where the Day Takes You||Brenda|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Charlotte||Uncredited|
|Inside Monkey Zetterland||Bella the Stalker|
|Serial Mom||Misty Sutphin|
|1996||Mrs. Winterbourne||Connie Doyle/Patricia Winterbourne|
|2000||Cecil B. Demented||Libby|
|2004||A Dirty Shame||Herself||Cameo|
|2007||The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie|
|2008||The Business of Being Born||Herself
(the actual water birth of her second son, Owen Tyler Sussman, is shown)
|Executive producer and narrator|
|1987||Kate & Allie||Teri||Episode: "Send Me No Flowers"|
|1988||ABC Afterschool Special||Carmen||Episode: "A Family Again"|
|1989||Baby Cakes||Grace||Television movie|
|Starting Now||Ricki Ross||Television series pilot|
|1989–1990||China Beach||Holly Pelegrino||13 episodes|
|1990||Gravedale High||Cleofatra (Voice)||13 episodes|
|1991||The Chase||Tammie||Television movie|
|Riders in the Sky||Broadway Baby||Episode: "Horsenapped"|
|1992||Based on an Untrue Story||Velour||Television movie|
|1993–2004||Ricki Lake||Host||Syndicated talk show|
|1998||Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery||Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen||Television movie|
|2000–2001||The King of Queens||Stephanie Heffernan||6 episodes|
|2004||Higglytown Heroes||Carpenter Hero (Voice)||Episode: "Soup with Stars/The Happy Friendly Sparkly Toast Club"|
|2005–2008||The Olivia Squared TV Show||Tiffany Lewis||64 episodes|
|2006||Gameshow Marathon||Host||7 episodes|
|King of the Hill||Lila (Voice)||Episode: "Hank's Bully"|
|2007||Matters of Life and Dating||Linda||Television movie|
|2009||Loving Leah||Rabbi Gerry||Television movie|
|Charm School with Ricki Lake||Head-mistress||10 episodes|
|2010||Drop Dead Diva||Susan Semler||Episode: "Back from the Dead"|
|The Oprah Winfrey Show||Herself||Guest, "Talk Show Reunion"|
|2011||Dancing with the Stars||Herself / Contestant||Contestant on season 13|
|2012–2013||The Ricki Lake Show||Host||Syndicated talk show|
|2016||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Dream Ghost||Episode: "Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!"|
|Hairspray Live!||One of Mr. Pinky's Girls||Television Musical|
|2017||Celebrity Juice||Herself||Series 18, episode 5|
|2018||Drop the Mic||Episode: "Shaquille O'Neal vs. Ken Jeong / Jerry Springer vs. Ricki Lake"|
|2019||The Masked Singer||Raven/Herself|
|2019||The X Factor: Celebrity||Herself / Contestant||Contestant; eliminated first|
|2019||Loose Women||Herself||Guest panellist|
|2020||Cooked with Cannabis||Herself||Panellist|
In popular culture
Lake is mentioned by name in the following songs:
- "The Neden Game" by Insane Clown Posse (1997)
- "Who Would've Thought" by Rancid (1998)
- "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" by The Offspring (1998)
- "Strong" by Robbie Williams (1998)
- "Lovesick" by TLC (1999)
- "Hole in the Head" by Sugababes (2003)
- "Till the World Ends (Femme Fatale Remix)" by Britney Spears featuring Nicki Minaj and Kesha (2011)
- "How That Taste" by Kehlani (2015)
- “Money Good” by Megan Thee Stallion (2019)
- "Shoulderblades" by Girl Band (2019)
- "Ricki Lake" by Netta (2020)
- Ricki Lake is mentioned in an episode of American Dad during the song “Breakin” that Roger and Stan evolve into during their struggle to see which one is the better actor in S6E11 A Piñata Named Desire. Her name is rhymed with “Flank Steak”.
- "Ricki Lake Biography (1968-)". FilmReference.com.
- "Shopping In Syndication Hell". Newsweek. February 5, 1995. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- Zoglin, Richard (January 30, 1995). "Talking Trash". Time. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- Corliss, Richard (February 29, 1988). "Cinema: Buxom Belles in Baltimore 'Hairspray'". Time. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- "Ricki Lake Documenting Breast Feeding (and Showing a Lot of Boob)". Jewish Business News. August 17, 2014.
- Kasriel, Alex (October 9, 2009). "Rikki Lake: 'Birth is the most amazing thing'". The JC.
- Willstein, Paul. "It's a Wrap for 'Hairspray'". The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania). July 26, 1987.
- Werts, Diane (December 6, 1993). "Respect earns Ricki Lake success on TV". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
- Cagle, Jess (December 30, 1994). "Entertainer 8: Ricki Lake". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
- Ikenberg, Tamara (February 28, 1999). "Gen-X Cinderella has the knack". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- Albiniak, Paige (April 20, 2011). "EXCLUSIVE: Ricki Lake Returning to Daytime". Broadcasting & Cable.
- Bonawitz, Amy (June 15, 2006). "Ricki Lake Is Back In The Game". CBS News. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
- "The Business of Being Born (2008) – Movie Details". Yahoo! Movies.
- "Ricki Lake's The Business of Being Born to Be Released in October". Variety. MovieWeb.com. August 29, 2007. Archived from the original on September 1, 2007.
- "Benefit Screening: The Business of Being Born". Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
- "Ricki Lake: Ricki Lake On The Business Of Being Born". The Huffington Post. April 17, 2007.
- "Your Best Birth". Hachette Book Group. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009.
- "Ricki Lake Is the New Headmistress of VH1's Third Installment of Charm School". VH1 Press Release. Futon Critic. February 5, 2009.
- "VH1's Charm School with Ricki Lake". VH1.com.
- "Donahue, Sally, Geraldo, Montel, Ricki: Talk Show Hosts Together For The First Time". Oprah.com. November 8, 2010.
- Albiniak, Paige (March 14, 2011). "EXCLUSIVE: Ricki Lake Poised for a 2012 Comeback". Broadcasting & Cable.
- "Ricki Lake's talk show cancelled". WENN.com. Newshub. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
- "The 40th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award Winners". National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. June 16, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 20, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- Bianco, Robert. "Review: 'Hairspray' has plenty of luster as NBC's best live musical". USA Today. December 7, 2016.
- "Let It Shine announces Ricki Lake as guest judge for the first live show". Radio Times. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
- Wilstein, Matt (March 13, 2018). "I Got High With Ricki Lake and Talked About Pediatric Cancer". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Suarez, Olivia (March 14, 2018). "Medicinal pot documentary shares hopes for legalization at SXSW". KVUE. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Bentley, Jean (February 6, 2019). "'The Masked Singer' Week 6 Eliminated Celebrity Speaks".
- O'Sullivan, Kelly (February 5, 2019). "Everyone Thinks Gladys Knight Is the Bee on 'The Masked Singer'". Country Living. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- "The Masked Singer: The Raven Performs Bad Romance". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- Venable, Malcolm (February 6, 2019). "The Masked Singer's Raven Was Exactly Who We Expected | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- Duke, Simon (October 12, 2019). "When is X Factor: Celebrity on? ITV show returns with star lineup". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
- Sherwood, Roxanna (January 5, 2011). "Ricki Lake: From Size 24 to Skinny". ABC News.
- Castro, Peter (May 23, 1994). "Down the Alleys With...Ricki Lake". People. 41 (19). Retrieved May 14, 2009.
- Silverman, Stephen M. (2001). "Lake's Water Baby". People. Retrieved May 15, 2009. Note: Archived article erroneously dated August 22, 1997.
- "All Talked Out: After Nine Years of Marriage and Two Kids, Ricki Lake Separates from Her Husband". People. September 8, 2003.
- McNeil, Liz (May 23, 2010). "Ricki Lake Has a New Boyfriend". People.
- Schwartz, Alison (August 11, 2011). "Ricki Lake Is Engaged". People.
- McNeil, Liz (April 10, 2012). "Ricki Lake Elopes". People.
- Finn, Natalie. "Ricki Lake Files for Divorce From Husband Christian Evans After 2 Years of Marriage". eonline.com. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
- Birkinbine, Julia. "Ricki Lake and Husband Christian Evans Postpone Divorce After He Says They'd "Never" Get Back Together". closerweekly.com. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
- "Ricki Lake's Ex-husband Dead". World Entertainment News Network (England). February 14, 2017.
- Jordan, Julie (March 1, 2017). "Ricki Lake Reveals Her Ex-Husband Committed Suicide Amid Battle with Bipolar Disorder". People.com. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- "TV Star Ricki Lake's Malibu Rental Home Burns Down". CBS Los Angeles. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
- Sanger, David E. (January 15, 2011). "2011 PCA: Kristin Bihr wins Luxury Ladies Event". PokerStarsBlog.com. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- “RICKI LAKE GETS BUZZ CUT Reveals Struggle With Hair Loss, Depression” from TMZ (January 1, 2020)
- "Ricki Lake Opens Up About The 'Quiet Hell' Of Her Decades-Long Hair Loss" from The Los Angeles Times (January 2, 2020)
- "Ricki Lake Is Engaged to Ross Burningham! 'Filled with Gratitude and Joy for What's to Come,' She Says". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
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