It was a beautiful morning on the TODAY show set — literally.
So said People magazine, which named the show’s co-anchor, Meredith Vieira, and national correspondent, Natalie Morales, to its annual list of the 100 Most Beautiful People.
People special correspondent Julie Jordan announced the selections Wednesday on TODAY in New York. She also revealed the magazine’s choice for the Most Beautiful Person for 2009: actress Christina Applegate.
Not just skin-deep
Applegate, who stars as Samantha Newly on the ABC sitcom “Samantha Who?,” was recognized for the inspirational way she waged a very public battle with breast cancer and a double mastectomy.
“She truly shows that beauty is not just skin-deep,” Jordan said.
The 37-year-old Applegate has been a star on stage, screen and television. She became famous as Kelly Bundy on “Married ... with Children” and has starred in such movies as “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” as well as starring in the Broadway revival of the musical “Sweet Charity.”
People magazine broke its 2009 list down into categories, and Vieira made it to the “Beauty at Every Age” list. “She’s smart and beautiful,” Jordan said as Vieira blushed on the couch next to her TODAY co-hosts Ann Curry, Matt Lauer and Morales.
Morales, who gave birth to her second son, Luke, last fall, made the “Beauty After Baby” section along with Christina Aguilera, Angie Harmon and Milla Jovovich.
Vieira and Morales were part of a greater NBC presence on People’s annual list. Jimmy Fallon, the network’s new late-late night host, is also a first-timer, as are “Saturday Night Live” ’s Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig. Rashida Jones, who co-stars with Poehler on the new NBC hit comedy “Parks and Recreation,” is another new face on the list. All were named to the “Funny People” section.
Barack’s beauties and more
The magazine also created a “Barack’s Beauties” section, headed by first lady Michelle Obama. The president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is on the list, as is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Other White House staff listed include personal aide Reggie Love, social secretary Desiree Rogers, chef Sam Kass and speechwriter Jon Favreau.
The White House section, Jordan said, proves that “it’s OK to be a consummate professional and still be easy on the eyes.”
Another special section called “No Makeup” is headed by ageless beauty Cindy Crawford and includes Eva Mendes and the “Girls of 90210,” referring to the CW television series.
That category, Jordan explained, is “no smoke and mirrors. It’s raw beauty. My favorite is Cindy Crawford. She looks stunning.”
The “Under 21” list includes Disney Channel stars Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez.
There is a list for “Reality Show Beauties” that includes the newly crowned Miss USA 2009, Kristen Dalton, along with Miss America 2009 Katie Stam; Nathan Thomas of “Top Design”; Joshua Allen of “So You Think You Can Dance” and Christina Machamer of “Hell’s Kitchen.”
The longest list is “Celebrity Smiles,” and that’s where readers will find many of the perennial faces on People’s list. Among them are Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Hugh Jackman, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Zac Efron, Halle Berry, Carrie Underwood, Heidi Klum, Brooke Shields and Eva Longoria.
Not their first plaudits
Vieira is no stranger to awards. Since beginning her career in 1975 as a radio announcer in Worcester, Mass., the 55-year-old has won seven Emmy awards for her work on the nation’s most respected and popular shows.
She was a “60 Minutes” correspondent for a decade at CBS before becoming the moderator of “The View” on ABC. In 2006, when Katie Couric left the anchor desk at TODAY to anchor CBS’ nightly news broadcast, Vieira was tapped to replace her.
She also won an Emmy as the host of the syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Vieira and her husband, Richard M. Cohen, have three children.
Morales, 36, began her on-air television career with News 12-The Bronx before moving to NBC affiliate WVIT in Hartford, Conn. She moved from there to MSNBC, where she was an anchor and correspondent from 2002-06. She joined TODAY as national correspondent in 2006.
An Air Force “brat,” Morales speaks Spanish and Portuguese and is an avid runner who has completed three New York City marathons along with several others. She lives with her husband, Joe Rhodes, and two sons in Hoboken, N.J.