And now, after a seven-year break, Ricki's back with a brand new talk show! The Ricki Lake Show starts here in the UK on Monday (January 21), so we gave the woman herself a ring to talk getting married (and believing in love again), waterproof mascara, why her old series was "mostly fluff", and what we can expect from the programme...
Obviously Ricki Lake was so huge - how is this different?
"I think this show is different because I'm different. It's still the same genre and same format, but I think with these shows they're personality driven and I've evolved. I've definitely grown up, and I feel like it's the upgraded Ricki Lake."
You had a big 2012 - as well as the show, you got married! Congratulations! Has it changed your outlook at all?
"Thank you so much! Absolutely. I mean, if you talked to me two years ago, I was the most cynical. I didn't believe in marriage or love - I'd been pretty burned, and I was just kind of, 'I'm independent, I'm a strong woman, I don't need a man'. That was really my mentality and I met this amazing person when I least expected it, and I have to say I really, really love having a partner and having this really fulfilling home life where I feel like it's worth taking the risk. I've really changed my tune - I do believe in love again."
"It's so true. I feel like I'm eating crow because there are a lot of things I said. I'm a Virgo, and I mean what I say and I'm pretty strong-headed. I said a couple of years ago I was never going to do another talk show, I would never do Dancing With The Stars in a million years, and I would never get married again. And all of those things happened!"
So what did make you want to do another talk show? Was it because you got married?
"No, because I wasn't married yet. I actually wasn't even with him when I agreed to the show. But I think I was ready, and after I made a documentary film that took over four years to make - it was called The Business of Being Born - it was really the making of that and putting that out there... seeing the impact that it was having.
"It was about birth options, mostly in the US but it really did translate internationally... It was starting this movement of people educating themselves and exercising their right to the choices they have when they give birth, and I was like, 'Wow, if this little movie can have this impact, if I had this format again and was able to reach millions of people, imagine the difference we could make'. So that was what really spawned me wanting to go back to daytime."
The show deals with all sorts of topics - sex drives...
"Everything! Anything a woman in her 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s can relate to, whether it's ageing and hormones and love and divorce and children and fertility - I mean, all kinds of stuff. That's what we want to do, and my focus is really doing meaningful television. My old show was what it was in the day - it was a phenomenon, but it was mostly a lot of fluff. It was a lot of crazy mum drama and DNA testing and all this stuff, and I guess I wanted to do something that was more of a conversation, that was thought-provoking, and that's what we're really trying to accomplish."
So I'm guessing we won't be hearing, 'Go Ricki'...
"It's happened a couple of times! But no, it's like a different feel. We do the show in LA now as opposed to New York, so the audience is still very much a character of the show, but I say it's a little more sedate this time. A little more mature!"
Are you sick of hearing 'Go Ricki' from people in the street?
"No, no, no, I'm flattered. I'm this kind of pop culture name and brand, so people meet me and they're like, 'I grew up watching you'. As much as it's hard to believe when I see an adult that's grown up now, who grew up watching me - it's a reminder of how old I am - it's very flattering."
You've had celebrity guests like P Diddy and Kendra Wilkinson on the show. Are there any people you'd love to get on?
"Well, it's really not a celebrity-driven show. We have had high-profile people on the show, but it's more real people and real issues, so there's not really one person. I get excited about everyone. We had psychics on this week [in the US] - I got excited about that. It's really about the story that they're telling and their life experience that I really get excited about."
What's your favourite moment from the show so far?
"Ooh - we've done I think 90 shows now! Oh my gosh, there's been a lot. I mean, we had this little girl on this week. She became a friend of mine on Twitter, she's 7. She has this horrible disease called NF1 and we were able to feature her and raise awareness about her disease and try to find a cure and raise money, so that was really rewarding.
"Oh - we had a little transgender girl. We did a show on transgender youth, which was amazing. We had this 9-year-old girl who was actually born a boy, and her story and her family. That was amazing television. Any opportunity I have to learn something or educate people on some issue that they would not otherwise know about, that's what's really, really thrilling for me."
It sounds like some of these things get quite emotional. Do you find it hard to keep it together sometimes?
"Yes! Definitely. I wear my heart and my emotions on my sleeve. I think the thing about me is that I'm a good listener, I really care about people, I have the compassion, and I can't be anything but myself. So yes, I do get emotional, I do get excited, I do get ridiculous, but it's what you see is what you get."
A lot of waterproof mascara, I guess...
"Yes! No, actually I refuse to wear waterproof mascara - they just clean me up in the commercial break. It's bad for your eyelashes! I don't wear waterproof, it's terrible for you!"
There are lots of light-hearted segments on the show too - I saw you were looking for America's Hottest Bachelor recently! You must have fun with that kind of thing.
"Yeah, when I do those shows my job doesn't suck! There's a balance of some light stuff and then some really intriguing, thought-provoking stuff."
Talkshows are a pretty crowded market - what makes yours stand out?
"The only thing we have that the other shows don't have is me! They are about the personality, and so I haven't even watched the other shows. There's a bunch in the US that started this year. I just try to do the best job I can do and be authentic and give the audience the real me, and hopefully produce television that makes a difference."
Did you have any nerves about coming back to daytime?
"Not really. I mean, I guess I was a little curious as to whether it would come back easily for me, because it's been a while since I was doing this. But it really for me was like riding a bike, which is like, 'Okay, you know, here I am again and I'm very much in my comfort zone'. I'm very comfortable talking to real people about real issues and listening as I go. I do my preparation but I also want it to be like a real conversation, so I just ask the questions that I think people at home are asking. I try to tell a good story and learn and have a good time."
So do you have any New Year's resolutions?
"I haven't thought of one yet. I mean, obviously I want to continue to be happy and have a really good balance with my family and my work and I'm very, very grateful. [2012 was] a very good year for me. I'm so in love and happy at home and I feel like this show is the right step for me right now. So I don't know, I'll have to think of a resolution... I'm really in a good place."
The Ricki Lake Show premieres in the UK on Monday (January 21) at 4pm on FOX.