Friday’s episode of the Disney-produced syndicated series was devoted to marking Ripa’s 15th anniversary on the show. She started out with co-host Regis Philbin, after replacing his original partner Kathie Lee Gifford. Former NFL star Michael Strahan has been her co-host since 2012.
Iger surprised Ripa at the end of the episode with the presentation of a Tinker Bell Award, which Disney gives to employees who log 25 years of service. Iger noted that before she joined “Live,” Ripa spent 10 years as a star of the ABC soap opera “All My Children.”
In handing the statuette to a tearful Ripa, Iger revealed that the mischievous fairy from “Peter Pan” was his favorite Disney character. “You remind me of Tinker Bell — short, sweet and really sassy,” he told Ripa.
Ripa was emotional as she addressed the crowd in the closing moments of the show. She noted that her “good fortune” of such a long run on a successful show would not have happened “without the audience that is so supportive and so accepting of me into your homes every day. It’s an honor that I don’t take for granted even for a second.”