All My Children Cast Reunites to Discuss Everything From Why Kelly Ripa Called Walt Willey ‘Uncle Daddy’ to How Finola Hughes’ Glammed Up Alex’s Surgical Scrubs
ABC, Jill Johnson/JPI (3), JPI
For a moment, all our Pine Valley faves were back on ABC, and the world felt right again.
As part of Live With Kelly and Ryan’s celebration of host Kelly Ripa’s 30th anniversary with the Walt Disney Company, the ABC talk show got together a slew of her former All My Children co-stars. Needless to say, Hayley’s former portrayer was stoked. The still-very-much-missed soap wasn’t just a job to her, “it was my family,” she said, “literally.
“It was there that I met my husband [Mark Consuelos, who played Matéo], had my first two children and where I met many of my lifelong friends.”
Among them was guest Susan Lucci, the daytime icon who brought Erica Kane to life for the duration of the show’s ABC run. She “taught me how to be kind to everyone and treat everyone with dignity and respect,” said Ripa, “and showed me you have agency over how you act with people.”
Ripa made a big impression on Lucci, too. She recalled that Ripa’s first day, back when Hayley was a goth, she walked up to the superstar in the bathroom, introduced herself and deadpanned, “I have it in my contract that I get all of your wardrobe.”
Ripa also had a memorable first encounter with Finola Hughes, who played Alex on All My Children (and later her General Hospital character Anna, too). Hughes recalled that Ripa came toward her reciting all these lines from something she couldn’t place — till finally, she realized, holy crap, Ripa was quoting her new castmate’s monologue from the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive!
Though it could go without saying, Eva LaRue (Maria) noted that Ripa is and always has been the equivalent of “a stand-up comedian.” So on LaRue’s first day as neurosurgeon Maria, “Kelly was like, ‘Where’d you get your doctorate, out of a box of Cracker Jacks?'”
When Consuelos chimed in, he was asked what his first impression of his future on- and off-screen wife was. “Contrary to popular actions, I wasn’t really interested in sexually harassing my future co-star” at the screentest, he joked. “Soon after that… I was smitten, obviously.”
Ripa, on the other hand, had no compunction about expressing her interest in Consuelos. From the start, she said, “I knew I was going to marry him. I had the weirdest dream, which I told him about, which nowadays would have gotten me fired.
“I was totally inappropriate with this poor man,” she added with a laugh.
Whereas Ripa and Consuelos’ chemistry was undeniable, she and Cameron Mathison (formerly Ryan) found it a bit trickier to throw sparks. When their characters were paired, Mathison took care not only to be respectful of his leading lady but pal Consuelos’ feelings. As a result, after Hayley and Ryan’s first kiss, “the director was like, ‘What was that?!?” he chuckled. “‘That was the most pathetic kiss in the world.’”
After that — as the clip showed in great detail — “basically, we decided to eat each other’s face off,” said Mathison.
Later, Dondré Whitfield, who played Terrence and enjoyed many a deep conversation with Ripa, dropped a hilarious bombshell: “Mark really owes this marriage to me,” he said. “I realized that I was the not the man of color for [Kelly], I was always gonna be her brother. So I made room for [Mark].”
Elsewhere in the fun-filled virtual roundtable, the stars flashed back to the way that LaRue’s surgical scrubs kept getting smaller and tighter, while fashion-forward Hughes, who hated wearing them at all, had Gucci labels sewed into hers.
Finally, Walt Willey (Jackson) shared Ripa’s bewildering nickname for him. “She used to call me Uncle Daddy, which is probably the sickest and wrongest thing I’ve ever heard. I have no idea, in fact, what it means.”
Ripa never did explain it, though it was pointed out that Consuelos eventually became Daddy and Whitfield, Cousin Daddy. So an unsolved All My Children mystery — one more reason for ABC to revive the soap. Since you’re here and clearly in the mood to visit Pine Valley, why not do exactly that by perusing the below photo gallery, which takes you through the beloved sudser’s entire storied run.