Ricki Lake

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Ricki Lake
Lake in May 2015
Ricki Pamela Lake

(1968-09-21) September 21, 1968 (age 55)
EducationIthaca College (attended)
  • Television host
  • actress
  • producer
Years active1987–present
Known forTracy Turnblad – Hairspray
Ricki Lake
The Ricki Lake Show
Rob Sussman
(m. 1994; div. 2004)
Christian Evans
(m. 2012; div. 2015)
Ross Burningham
(m. 2022)

Ricki Pamela Lake (born September 21, 1968) is an American television host and actress. She is known for her lead role as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film Hairspray, for which she received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. She is also known for her talk show, Ricki Lake, which was broadcast internationally from September 1993 until May 2004.[1][2][3] When the show debuted, Lake was 24 and credited as being the youngest person to host a syndicated talk show at the time. In late 2012, Lake began hosting a second syndicated talk show, The Ricki Lake Show. The series was canceled in 2013 after a single season, but Lake won her first Daytime Emmy Award for the project.

Early life[edit]

Lake was born in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, to a secular Jewish family.[4][5] 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.[citation needed]

Lake attended Ithaca College for one year.[6]



Lake in 1988

Lake made her film debut as Tracy Turnblad, the lead character in John Waters' 1988 cult classic Hairspray.[7] 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 Debbie Harry for the film Hotel Gramercy Park, which was released in 2008.

Talk shows[edit]

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.[8][9][10]

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.[11]

2006–2010: Other projects[edit]

Lake at the 2007 premiere of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

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.[12] 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.[13] The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and Red Envelope released the film in New York, L.A. and San Francisco in October;[14] it also screened in Australia.[15]

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".[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18][19] 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.[20]


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 was after Lake began appearing on various programs in which she expressed a desire to return to the genre.[21] 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.[11] It was cancelled after one season.[22] Lake won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2013.[23]

On December 7, 2016, Lake made a cameo in the television musical Hairspray Live![24] 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.[25] 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.[26] The film focused in particular on the use of cannabis in the treatment of pediatric cancer.[27]

On February 6, 2019, she was revealed to be "Raven" in the Fox series The Masked Singer during its first season.[28] She performed "Rainbow" by Kesha,[29] "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga[30] and "Brave" by Sara Bareilles.[31] In October 2019, she began competing in The X Factor: Celebrity.[32]

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 panellists off sick at short notice.

In 2022, Lake launched a podcast, Raised by Ricki, in collaboration with Lemonada Media.[33] Lake and co-host Kalen Allen discuss previous episodes of Ricki Lake and interview celebrity guests.[34]

Dancing with the Stars performances[edit]

Week # Dance/Song Judges' scores Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1 Viennese Waltz/"This Year's Love" 7 6 7 Safe
2 Jive/"Hey Ya!" 8 7 8 Safe
3 Rumba/"Gravity" 9 9 9 Safe
4 Tango/"Theme from Psycho" 10 9 10 Safe
5 Foxtrot/"Easy Lover" 8 8 8 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"
Argentine tango/"Allerdings"
Cha-cha-cha relay/"I Like How It Feels"
Cha-cha-cha/"Yeah 3x"
Freestyle/"Can't Touch It"
Tango/Theme from Psycho
Third Place

Personal life[edit]

Lake has discussed drastic weight changes in interviews, including swings of up to 100 pounds and extreme diets that left her "fainting on, like, the spot. I'd be standing up and then, black out, and not remember anything."[35]

Lake met illustrator Rob Sussman in October 1993, on Halloween. The couple married in Las Vegas on March 26, 1994.[36] They have two sons: Milo Sebastian Sussman (born 1997), and Owen Tyler Sussman, whose water birth, in 2001, was shown in The Business of Being Born, which Lake also produced.[37][38] The couple filed for divorce in August 2003;[39] it was finalized on February 25, 2004.[40]

In November 1994, Lake was arrested for staging an anti-fur demonstration against Karl Lagerfeld.[41]

Lake began dating jewelry designer Christian Evans in mid-2009.[40] They became engaged in August 2011,[42] and married on April 8, 2012.[43] On October 29, 2014, Lake filed for divorce from Evans, citing "irreconcilable differences".[44] In December 2014, however, they announced they had put their divorce on hold;[45] it was finalized in 2015.[46]

On September 18, 2010, Lake's rented Malibu home was destroyed by a fire. She and her sons escaped without injury.[47]

On January 15, 2011, Lake finished in sixth place in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Luxury Ladies Poker Event, collecting $5,587 of the prize pool.[48]

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".[49][50]

In February 2021 she announced that she was engaged to Ross Burningham. They married in January 2022.[51]


Lake in April 2007 at the premiere of The Business of Being Born


Year Film Role Notes
1988 Hairspray Tracy Turnblad
The In Crowd Dancer Uncredited
Working Girl Bridesmaid
1989 Cookie Pia
Last Exit to Brooklyn Donna
Baby Cakes Grace Hart
1990 Cry-Baby Pepper Walker
1992 Where the Day Takes You Brenda
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Charlotte Uncredited
Inside Monkey Zetterland Bella the Stalker
1993 Skinner Kerry Tate
1994 Cabin Boy Figurehead
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
2007 Park Peggy
Hairspray Talent agent
2008 The Business of Being Born Herself
(the actual water birth of her second son, Owen Tyler Sussman, is shown)
Executive producer and narrator
2017 Gemini Vanessa


Year Title Role Notes
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"
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
Executive producer
2009 Loving Leah Rabbi Gerry Television movie
Co-executive producer
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 Whose Line Is It Anyway? (American TV series) Herself Special Guest (Season 16, episode 10)
2020 Cooked with Cannabis Herself Panellist
2021 Under the Christmas Tree Marie Television movie


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  15. ^ a b "Benefit Screening: The Business of Being Born". Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  16. ^ "Ricki Lake: Ricki Lake On The Business Of Being Born". The Huffington Post. April 17, 2007.
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  29. ^ O'Sullivan, Kelly (February 5, 2019). "Everyone Thinks Gladys Knight Is the Bee on 'The Masked Singer'". Country Living. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  30. ^ "The Masked Singer: The Raven Performs Bad Romance". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  31. ^ Venable, Malcolm (February 6, 2019). "The Masked Singer's Raven Was Exactly Who We Expected | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  32. ^ Duke, Simon (October 12, 2019). "When is X Factor: Celebrity on? ITV show returns with star lineup". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  33. ^ White, Peter (March 31, 2022). "Ricki Lake Launches Podcast As Part Of Expanded Lemonada Media Slate". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved August 20, 2023.
  34. ^ Wood, Rommel; Reedy, Jessica (November 25, 2022). "Were you raised by Ricki Lake?". NPR. Archived from the original on December 1, 2022. Retrieved August 20, 2023.
  35. ^ Sherwood, Roxanna (January 5, 2011). "Ricki Lake: From Size 24 to Skinny". ABC News.
  36. ^ Castro, Peter (May 23, 1994). "Down the Alleys With...Ricki Lake". People. 41 (19). Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  37. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (2001). "Lake's Water Baby". People. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2009. Note: Archived article erroneously dated August 22, 1997.
  38. ^ "Ricki Lake's 2 Kids: Get to Know Her Sons Milo and Owen". January 28, 2021.
  39. ^ "All Talked Out: After Nine Years of Marriage and Two Kids, Ricki Lake Separates from Her Husband". People. September 8, 2003. Archived from the original on December 9, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  40. ^ a b McNeil, Liz (May 23, 2010). "Ricki Lake Has a New Boyfriend". People. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
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  42. ^ Schwartz, Alison (August 11, 2011). "Ricki Lake Is Engaged". People. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  43. ^ McNeil, Liz (April 10, 2012). "Ricki Lake Elopes". People.
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  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ "Ricki Lake's Ex-husband Dead". World Entertainment News Network (England). February 14, 2017.
  47. ^ "TV Star Ricki Lake's Malibu Rental Home Burns Down". CBS Los Angeles. September 18, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ "RICKI LAKE GETS BUZZ CUT Reveals Struggle With Hair Loss, Depression" from TMZ (January 1, 2020)
  50. ^ "Ricki Lake Opens Up About The 'Quiet Hell' Of Her Decades-Long Hair Loss" from The Los Angeles Times (January 2, 2020)
  51. ^ "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.

External links[edit]