Ricki Lake
Birth Date:
September 21, 1968
Birth Place:
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, USA
5' 4" (1.63 m)
Famous for:
Her role as Tracy Turnblad in 'Hairspray' (1988)
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"I never set out to be a role model for large women. I just do what I feel is right." Ricki Lake

Shot to fame in the late '80s as the overweight star of the John Waters’ cult hit film “Hairspray” (1988), Ricki Lake also starred in “Cry-Baby” (1990), “Serial Mom” (1994) and ”Cecil B. Demented” (2000) and appeared in such films as "Working Girl" (1988), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992), "Skinner" (1995), "Mrs. Winterbourne" (1996) and "Hairspray" (2007).

On television, Lake received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1994 for Outstanding Talk Show Host for her work in her syndicated daytime talk show, "The Ricki Lake Show" (aka. "Ricki Lake").

The Daytime talk-show diva also played Red Cross worker “Holly the Donut Dolly'” (1989-1990) on ABC’s war drama "China Beach," portrayed Stephanie Heffernan (2000-2001), the younger sister to Kevin James' character Doug, on the CBS sitcom "The King of Queens," and hosted the CBS retro-themed/celebrity game miniseries "Gameshow Marathon" (2006).

The 5' 4" actress/TV personality was married to artist/illustrator Rob Sussman from 1994 to 2003. She now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her two sons.

“Dump that zero and get yourself a hero!” Ricki Lake (her advice to women in bad relationships)

Ricki Pamela

Childhood and Family:

Born in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, on September 21, 1968, Ricki Pamela Lake grew up in Westchester, New York. The daughter of Jewish-raised and born-again Christian parents Barry Lake (pharmacist; was severely beaten in a mugging in the early 1990s) and Jill Lake (homemaker), Ricki attended Hastings Elementary as a child, then Farragut Middle School in Hastings-on-Hudson, and Hastings High for two years. She subsequently transferred to New York's Professional Children's School in her early teens, where she began taking singing and acting classes. After graduation, she attended Ithaca College, in New York, for two semesters, and left after her freshman year to pursue acting full time. Lake has a younger sister named Jennifer Lake (born in 1970).

At a Halloween party in 1993, Lake met artist/illustrator Rob Sussman (born in 1966) and the two were married on March 26, 1994, in Los Angeles. They have two sons, Milo Sebastian Sussman (born on March 22, 1997) and Owen Tyler Sussman (born on June 18, 2001). Lake and Sussman divorced in 2003 after 9 years of marriage. She recently dated trainer Appollo Yiamouviannis, but they broke up in early 2007 after going out for three years. Ricki now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her two children.

“It was a long time in the making, my divorce. One day became less special than the next, and pretty soon, we ceased all conversation. It is a sad day when you have nothing left to say.“ Ricki Lake

Lake, who suffers from adult onset asthma and is a vegetarian, once cited that sexual abuse as a child was a reason for her problems with obesity. In 2002, she re-gained a considerable amount of weight after giving birth to her second baby, but has currently lost 60 pounds. In 2007, she pursued an intense "new routine,” which resulted in over 125 pounds of weight loss.

The Ricki Lake Show


After seeing a production of “Annie” when she was seven, Ricki Lake decided to be a singer and an actress. She began taking singing and acting classes at New York's Professional Children's School and began singing professionally at the age of nine in cabarets and clubs in New York City. She also had a singing role in the Off-Broadway’s "Five Dine, No Exaggeration."

During final exams of her freshman year at Ithaca College, Lake received a call from her agent telling her to audition for the lead in a John Waters film called "Hairspray" (1988), in which she snagged the role of Tracy Turnblad, the self-proclaimed "pleasantly plump" teenager who pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation. Her performance in the film received positive reviews, giving her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead. Following her film debut, Lake had a lead role as a shy and overweight mortuary cosmetician named Grace in the CBS TV-movie "Babycakes" (1989), the Americanized version of Percy Adlon's "Sugarbaby."

Afterward, Lake joined the cast of the ABC's award-winning and highly acclaimed dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War, "China Beach," as the overweight Red Cross worker “Holly the Donut Dolly” (1989-1990). She also appeared in "A Girl's Guide to Chaos" at the Tiffany Theater in Los Angeles and was reunited with Waters for the musical film "Cry-Baby" (1990), portraying Johnny Depp's pregnant sister Pepper.

Lake subsequently had a featured role in Marc Rocco's critically acclaimed gritty and touching teen drama film "Where the Day Takes You" (1992; with Sean Astin, Lara Flynn Boyle, Peter Dobson, and Balthazar Getty). The following year, she hosted her own syndicated daytime talk show, "The Ricki Lake Show" (aka. “Ricki Lake”). The show earned her a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1994 for Outstanding Talk Show Host. The show also garnered awards from the Gracie Allen Awards and PRISM Certificates & Commendations, among others. Debuting in syndication on September 13, 1993, "The Ricki Lake Show" ended its first-run episodes on May 25, 2004.

Meanwhile, Lake made her third collaboration with John Waters in the dark comedy film "Serial Mom" (1994), in which she played Misty, the daughter to Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston's lead characters Beverly and Eugene Sutphin. She also appeared in the music video for The Muppets' "She Drives Me Crazy" (1994) and played the title role in Richard Benjamin's romantic film "Mrs. Winterbourne" (1996; opposite Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser), which is loosely based on the Cornell Woolrich novel "I Married A Dead Man."

Entering the new millennium, Lake had a recurring role on the CBS Emmy-nominated sitcom "The King of Queens," as Stephanie Heffernan (2000-2001). She also made appearances in John Waters' cult film loosely based on the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst, "Cecil B. Demented" (2000), alongside Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Lake recently hosted the CBS retro-themed/celebrity game miniseries "Gameshow Marathon" (2006), which is based on the UK's television program of the same name. She also produced "The Business of Being Born" (2007), a documentary that explores the contemporary experience of childbirth in the United States.

Also in 2007, Lake appeared as a talent agent in the remake of John Waters' 1988 comedy film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning 2002 Broadway musical, "Hairspray," which featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. That same year, she starred in the romantic drama/comedy TV movie "Matters of Life and Dating."

"My goal in life was to be loved and adored by everyone." Ricki Lake


  • TV Prize: Best Foreign TV Personality - Female (Bästa utländska kvinna), 1996

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