The public television breakup of Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan hasn't been as bad as it could have been.
The day before Strahan's last day on the show, the two haven’t bitten one another during a live broadcast, and neither one has cried on the air yet.
And though the dissolution of duo's on-air chemistry has been entertaining to watch, it should be remembered that theirs isn’t the first breakup of a morning show host team -- or even the most dramatic.
Here are five other particularly ugly or hysterical morning show divorces:
- Deborah Norville, "The Today Show’s" “other woman.” When Norville, 31, replaced longtime “Today” news anchor John Palmer in September 1989, the gossip immediately started. She was about to push out much admired co-host Jane Pauley. Three months later, Pauley, 39, was gone and Norville was Bryant Gumbel’s new co-host. Over the next year, “Today’s” ratings sagged and Norville, who had been parodied on “Saturday Night Live” and taken hits on David Letterman’s late-night show, was, accurately or not, blamed and constantly criticized. She went on maternity leave in February 1991 and never came back, thanks largely to another “other woman.” NBC announced in April 1991 that Norville’s temporary stand-in, Katie Couric, had become her permanent replacement, effective immediately.
- Kevin Newman and Lisa McRee get “disappeared” from “Good Morning America.” Taking advantage of the Pauley-Norville debacle, ABC’s morning show rose to No. 1 in the ratings for five years. By 1995, though, “Today” was back on top. Soon afterward, longtime “GMA” co-hosts Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson were pushed out in rapid succession. Their replacements, Newman and McRee, were younger relative unknowns -- to one another and to viewers. GMA’s ratings tanked, and within six months, the new team was gone, replaced by Diane Sawyer and Gibson. When GMA celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2010, “Lisa and I were nowhere to be found in its official history,” Newman, who had returned to TV in his native Canada, wrote for a magazine. “We never happened.”
- Ann Curry gets the "Bambi’s mother’s" treatment. When Couric became "CBS Evening News" anchor in 2006, became “Today” co-host Meredith Vieira became "Today's" co-host instead of Curry, the show’s longtime news anchor. The beloved Vieira left by choice five years later and “Today” felt that it had “no better options” than Curry to be Matt Lauer’s co-host, Brian Stelter wrote in his book, “Top of the Morning.” The result? Curry’s performance was criticized as being overly earnest and melodramatic. Off-air, Lauer complained about her bitterly and someone compiled a blooper reel of her worst mistakes, all of which found its way into the press and social media. When “GMA” took “Today’s” ratings crown, Stelter revealed, NBC executives put together a plan code-named “Operation Bambi” to force Curry from the job. She didn’t go quietly, tearing up during a painful to watch a live on-air goodbye in June 2012 that included the verbal shot, “This is not as I ever expected to leave this couch.” Many in the public blamed Lauer for her demise and four years later, “Today” is still struggling to become overall No. 1 again.
- Rosie O’Donnell’s split-screen split from “The View.” The outspokenly liberal O’Donnell tended to dominate her three or four co-hosts (the number depending on the day), although conservative fellow host Elisabeth Hasselbeck often more than held her own. It culminated on May 23, 2007, when O’Donnell accused Hasselbeck of not adequately defending her against media criticism of her anti-Iraq war sentiment; other long-simmering issues flared and the two argued and shouted at one another for 10 extraordinary minutes that went viral (see the video here). “It was like watching a domestic dispute unfolding,” Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a guest waiting to go on, told “People” magazine afterward. O’Donnell had already planned to leave “The View” the next month. Instead, she asked ABC to release her from her contract immediately and never came back. And it wasn’t just because of Hasselbeck. She was mad that producers had shown their shouting duel on a split screen. “I didn’t want to do Hannity and Colmes,” she told her friend, Kathy Griffin, referring to the former Fox News show.
- J. Fred Muggs bites the hand that feeds him: The first morning show “co-host” was a chimpanzee. The year-old “Today” show was struggling mightily in the ratings in 1953 when Muggs became a regular cast member alongside host Dave Garroway. Ratings instantly skyrocketed and advertisers jumped on board. (Watch a clip of Muggs on the “Today” show). Dubbed Garroway’s “right-hand monkey,” Muggs sat on the human host’s lap for interviews each day and appeared in skits. Official accounts differ about how much Garroway enjoyed the arrangement before NBC let Muggs’ contract expire after five years. The chimp’s trainer claimed it was because Garroway was jealous. Others said Muggs had bitten Garroway and at least one other person on the show. Muggs’ owners later sued NBC and Garroway, claiming they had “damaged the animal’s image and diminished his earning power,” according to “From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America’s Favorite Morning Show,” by Stephen Battaglio. “The suit, asking for $500,000, went on for years before a small settlement was reached.”
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